Sometimes, unawares, you step across an unseen line that unleashes the darkness and the universe itself turns against you. Neila crossed that line on July 3, 1995 whens she was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer .  This page is an atempt to trace the journey that followed .

Neila's Story
The Paths of Cander
Central Park 
Central Park inNew York City, August 1994
By the beginning of 1995 our lives had settled into a comfortable though routine after moving to Richardson, Texas three years earlier after leavng São Paulo.  Neila was happy working in the children's department of our local public library; Raquel and Christopher were attending the local high school, and adapted after some initial culture shock. Claudia, our eldest, was teaching at PACA where she had graduated 5 years earlier, and where all our children went to school while we were in São Paulo.   After spending four years in the US atttending Asbury College, and with the job she wanted, "Kaki," as she is known in the family, chose to remain behind .

Fitting back into American life brought both stress and joy in a series of life events.  Neila, a Brazilian citizen, had been away too long and had to requalify for a permanent visa.  Kendall stayed with his job at American Airlines since it meant that visiting relaives in Brazil would be easy, and Claudia would be able to travel to the states every time she got a break. Kendall's father fell and broke his arm and pelvis and began an extended hospital stay and a large portion of Kendall's time had to be dedicated to his parents. 

But our troubles had just begun, for in April of that that year Neila noticed a lingering cough.  Her gynocologist told her it was pneumonia and gave her an antibiotic.  When the cough didn't improve and she began to feel a fleshy spot on the right side of her back, she went to our family doctor, Dr. John Wood who immediately ordered an x-ray that revealed a suspicious-looking mass in the lower lobe of her right lung. The x-ray was followed by a CT scan, and on May 23th Dr. Wood told us there is a high probability of lung cancer. He scheduled an appointment with a pulmonary specialist, Dr. Pedro Paes, who set up a bronoscopy (inserting a tube through the nose to collect material from the lung for a biopsy). The bronoscopy failed, and they scheduled her for a medistinoscopy in which the sugeon would open a small slit in her throat and insert a catheter to collect material from the mediastinium, or the area of the between the lungs.  Depending on the results, this would be followed by surgery.  This procedure was scheduled for July 3, 1995, with surgeon Dr. Ogden.

The results confirmed our worst fears.  After the surgery Dr Ogden sat with me to say that not only was the mediastinal fluid was positive, meaning cancer was present, but when he opend her lung the cancer had already spread throughout the lung making a resection of the main tumor pointless; they just closed up back up.  He also said she had between six and eighteen months to live.  At least he got that part dead wrong.   

Two weeks after the hosptial released Neila, we went to see the oncology specialist, Dr. Jivesh Sharma, and the radiologist Dr. Gilbert, at the Richardson Cancer Clinc.  They recommended an initial regime of radiation and low dosage Taxol, to be followed by intensive Taxol plus carboplatin once she had maxed out on radiation.

[To follow: Brain mets, Gamma Knife surgery and Whole Brain Radiation, and the aftermath]


Neila's Admonition