Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cancer Diva fans:  Perfect husband here with a sad update regarding Cancer Diva's blogs.  As some of you have noted, Diva has not posted in awhile, and there's a reason for this.  On August 22nd, Diva and I learned she had cancer in her spinal fluid.  We were at Johns Hopkins, in the good care of the medical staff of the nation's top doc hospital.  What could go wrong?  Plenty.

Diva stayed that night, a Thursday, at Hopkins, and we came home for the weekend the next day.  Finding cancer in the spinal fluid, a rare and hard-to-treat cancer, included the news that Diva could not continue in the drug trial she was so enthusiastic about.  We were also told Diva might live about a year.

Early the next week, Diva was getting treatments at our local hospital when an oncologist, and friend to Diva, informed her that most patients with this kind of cancer normally live 2-3 months.  Bad news, but still some time to plan, have a party, play favorite Diva music, etc.  Also, Diva had some complications with sodium levels and blood pressure, so she was admitted to our go-to hospital that day. 

As the week progressed Diva was not improving, despite radiation treatments, lots of meds, etc.  Her regular oncologist advised, privately, that she may live 3-5 weeks.  This got everyone's attention.  Suddenly the year-long timeline was shortened considerably, and unfairly, I'd say.  Diva also continued to suffer pain, dizziness, etc.  Still, no radiation treatments are given over the weekend, and it was now Labor Day weekend, so she came home again.  Why stay in the hospital if they're not treating you?

A looong weekend is a good way to describe how we all felt as the days passed.  Diva was in constant pain, needed ice packs non stop, and was having trouble walking.  Back to the hospital we went Monday night, courtesy of an intervention by a good friend from work who cornered yet another oncologist familiar with Diva's case.  She was admitted on the spot, and never left for over a week.

Diva continued to struggle with radiation treatments, slow-arriving meds, and just plain bad luck.  At one point she fell when she got up in the middle of the night.  A nurse found her and a battery of tests were performed to see what internal damage, if any, occurred.  Thankfully none, but the CT scan revealed that the radiation was NOT having any effect on the cancer nor the pressure that was building in her brain.  I was also advised Diva might live 2-5 days.

Another frustrating weekend passed, and the doctor's recommendation was made, with my reluctant concurrence, that Diva should go into hospice care.  I was going to take care of her at home, but then it became clear she was too sick for even that.  Last week she was transferred to an in-patient hospice facility here in Washington, and she lived for another 9 days.  She died peacefully and without apparent pain yesterday, September 18, at 2:50 in the afternoon.  I was with her, as well as another family member.

Diva was a fighter, but this was a cancer that'd gone too far.  Her body could not overcome the pernicious and rapidly escalating effects of the spinal fluid cancer.  She lived a good life, full of cheer, energy and optimism.  She will be missed by many, including you and me. 


  1. I am so sorry to hear this news RIP Sandi and condolences to the family....thank you for sharing your Diva with us for so long

  2. Ph
    We hold you and your family up as you go through this tremendous grief. Diva will be missed by many. Sandi was so strong and full of good actions.
    Margaret, a BIO colleague

  3. What a lovely and strong woman she was. I was privileged to know and work with Sandi. I know she will be missed by many. My thoughts are with your family.

  4. RIP, Sandi. Thanks for the good times we had - you always were 'special.' Prof. Emer. Eldon Wedlock.

  5. Heartbreaking. I'm so sorry and am keeping you in my thoughts.

  6. Was looking up some old PSU classmates and found Sandi Polish here.

    Very sorry to hear about this. Not surprised to see she made a success of her too-brief life.

    Bruce Lindsey PSU '78

  7. I can't believe three years have passed by. Thinking of Diva and you her family. Shes not forgotten that is for sure