Jennifer Goodman Linn You Fearless

Beating the Tumors Down in Basel, Switzerland

It’s hard to believe that in less than 36 hours from receiving the call that the University Hospital in Basel could take us for this radioactive treatment, Dave and I were on a plane packed and ready to go (with all of my medications and snacks just in case smiley

We were able to use mileage credit and fly business class which made a huge difference given my swelling. We had a short 90-minute layover in Heathrow, which was fine, and we arrived on time.

Although the flight was uneventful, it was one of the toughest things I had to manage physically and mentally since this past winter. We were so concerned about a serious blood clot from the pressure of the plane that we made sure that I walked around every 45 minutes and constantly elevated my legs. This was made MUCH easier having the luxury of flying business class but it meant that I got little to no sleep. I also didn’t take off my sneakers the entire flight because I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get them back on.

By the time we arrived in Basel, I was completely exhausted and, as a result, was even more immobile than normal. I had a tremendously tough time walking and it took me a LONG time to get down a flight of stairs. I had a moment of real doubt…how am I going to possibly do this?!? While I was so happy that we arrived, I immediately thought about the fear of getting back home to do it again. But when that comes next week, I will be sure to make it happen. I often have to remind myself, “day by day” as well…)

Basel is an adorable little town, and our hotel is right on the River Rheine so it is very picturesque. Of course, Dave and I had to laugh when we arrived in our room (which faces the main drag) -- as we were trying to nap because I was beyond exhausted and in pain, a parade went by. I looked at Dave and said, “thank goodness NY noise prepared us for things like this,” and I promptly fell asleep. We woke up a few hours later, and I felt good enough to go on about a 10-minute walk with Dave around the river.

We had a very nice meal overlooking the water, and I was thoroughly amused by all of these “swimmers” who put all of their clothes and valuables in a “river balloon” sold by the local merchants and float with the current of the Rheine. It looked like a great ride (picture attached) and I told Dave that if we are fortunate to come back here down the road when I am in better shape, I definitely want to do this. (Author’s Note: While I was in quarantine Dave got to do this and he loved it! I was so happy he got to experience it.)

We woke up on Monday and headed to the University Hospital located only about a 10-minute walk over the bridge. The 3-day program is well-documented so there was little for us to do but to get a schedule and check in to my room.

My room is really great. I have a private room, which is awesome (apparently there are 7 of us weekly sharing 6 rooms so I feel bad for the last man out). It is very large with its own bathroom and vanity area and huge windows that overlook a courtyard. One day that courtyard will be very nice, but right now it is under construction. Still, the weather has been very sunny (and hot!) and it’s nice to look outside since I tend to be basically quarantined for the majority of time I am here.  In some ways it's "nicer" than a hospital in that there are 3 nurses that look over the 7 of us and I have gotten to know them very well.  There are no "announcements" through a PA system and they basically leave me alone unless they need me and they don't have to wake me up and take my vital signs every 4 hours.  I am finding it very quiet and peaceful which is nice.

We spent the day on Monday with medical tests, Dr’s questions, and being infused with a bunch of liquid medications that prevent the radioactive shot from giving you too many side effects, affecting your kidneys, etc. Then I received a radioactive infusion (only about 5 minutes) yesterday afternoon. From that point on, I am supposed to not get within 5-10 feet from anyone for about 36 hours and from children or pregnant women for about a week.

All day today I sit around and get tests 2-3 times to make sure my kidneys aren’t damaged from the treatment, and also to get a sense of whether the radioactive fluid is finding the receptors in my tumors and “attaching” to them. While we know the “uptake” won’t be tremendously high (my tests before we came here showed that I tested somewhat positive but not overly positive), we are hoping that we see promising results. We will continue to pursue results through scans in the U.S. and if we start to see improvement, my understanding is that I would be coming back here for another cycle of treatment in 8-10 weeks.

We do some more scans and tests tomorrow, and then they let me go. On the whole, besides exhaustion (which I feel is just as likely from the jet lag and the heat here), I am feeling pretty good. Dave and I are staying in Basel until Saturday AM to make sure I feel OK and get a bit more acclimated before I am thrown back into the jetlag again.

We have good friends who used to be our next-door neighbors in NYC. They moved back to Italy after a two-year stint, and we miss them so much. They do manage to visit 1-2x a year back to the city and we always see them then. But, due to my health, we have never been able to come to their neck of the woods. Well, they have graciously agreed to make the 4 hour journey to see us later this week so, fingers crossed, we will spend some QT with friends.

This just goes to show you that we are BLESSED by having such wonderful friends all over the globe. Thank you to all of you for sending sweet notes, dropping off snacks and giving us well wishes before we left.

You guys were fast…we had a huge support force gathered in less than 36 hours! And a special thank you to Jackie, Justine, Tina and Janet who donned bathing suits and swimming caps to attend my favorite aqua boot camp class with me on Saturday AM before I headed out. It is real mental and physical therapy for me and it meant the world to have fun friends there (who thought they were doing me a favor, not knowing they would get their butts kicked as well!)

Lastly, the Cycle for Survival Team made a wonderful “feel good” video for me that I have to post. I told them that I am doing my best to continue “Staying Alive” here, and they responded with a FANTASTIC rap involving the entire team. It just shows you that the charity we are all involved in has the most wonderful, loyal, caring supportive people at its core. And that makes all of the difference!

I will check back in later in the week. Much love, Jen and Dave