Epilogue – August 6, 2008
We said our earthly goodbyes to Karen on Friday morning. This marvel of a woman, this close friend, and ultimate teacher, will now continue her work with us in union with all the Seraphs on high.
This site has been weak of late in reporting Karen’s progress. As most know, it has been a roller coaster of emotions these past months following her surgery, her seemingly miraculous rebound, and then the cold reality of her cancer’s persistent return. Our apologies for not putting more here to update her many friends around the country.
This link to her obituary in the NY Times captures more than any one of us could say about her remarkable spirit. Please remember to keep Chris and Isabel – and her entire extended circle – in your prayers. Karen will never be far from our hearts.
Link to parish web site information
Link to Bellevue Reporter article
Link to The Catholic Northwest Progress Article
Posted, Monday, January 14, 2008
Dear SMS Community,
As most of you know, I faced a setback in December with the discovery of a new 7 cm tumor in my liver. I began chemotherapy again immediately after the discovery. There is a new drug called Erbitux that is being used as part of my regimen that has great potential. My surgeon is awaiting the results of four treatments before making the call on what he’d like to see happen next. He’s not too optimistic about another surgery.
This has been a real disappointment for our family. Yet, I am thrilled to have enjoyed four really great chemo-free months. The family fun and bonding we experienced was unlike any other time since Isabel’s birth.
We continue to need your support and prayers. I have completed three of the four initial rounds of this regimen and its been difficult. Erbitux has some challenging side effects! I am eager to see the results of the scan, due in about three weeks!
Posted, Sunday, July 29, 2007
Karen's NY Times article.
Posted Sunday, July 15, 2007
Chris, Isabel and I have arrived safely back at home from Baltimore. It was a challenging flight home, with Chris and Izzy sitting separately from me and being whisked by wheelchair through the airports. We do not miss Baltimore one bit! However, I do miss the wonderful care at Johns Hopkins. My recovery seems to be going slowly with a lot of limitations on movement and some constant pain. Its been three weeks since the surgery and it is expected that the recovery will be close to eight weeks.. Considering the extent of the operation, I am fortunate to be in as good of shape as I am!
Izzy started walking in Maryland. We celebrated her first birthday yesterday (July 12). For me, and for our family, we feel so blessed to have made it to this milestone of her birthday. There were several times throughout the past eleven months when I prayed to see her milestones: sitting up, crawling, words, walking and celebrating her first birthday. Many of you celebrated her baptism with us nearly a year ago. I was fearful at that time that it would be one of the last family celebrations. It is the prayers and support of our wonderful community that have helped us through (that, and good medicine!).
I am looking forward to recovering and also getting my hair back! I hope to become actively involved in SMS and to move forward with better health. The reviews are mixed, but my surgeon does not suggest further chemo at this time, so I am thrilled to have normalcy in our weekly routines.
We hope to see you all soon!
Pictures of Isabel's first birthday!
Posted Sunday, July 1, 2007
Hello from my snappy little mobile device...
I am transitioning today from Hopkins to the Residence Inn. I feel decent, partly due to an adjustment in pain management.
I will see Dr Choti this week to follow up before heading west on Sunday.
I miss you all so much. Izzy is full-fledged toddler these days!
Pictures from Baltimore with Isabel and family.
Posted - June 28, 2007
If you can bear bad typing on my mobile device, I can share some about what's going on in my treatment.
It’s been a very challenging week with a lot of pain. The surgery, as you know, went beyond our expectations. I was declared cancer free at the end of the surgery.
It lasted 6 - 7 hours. In the end, 75% of the liver was resected and 20 cm of colon removed. 5 tumors removed in total, finding one more that was not seen on the PET scan. This was a surgery where I was prepared for phases: the surgeons only taking out what was safe under the current conditions.
The anesthesiologist said afterwards to me that many people die during a surgery such as the one I endured.
Now I face a great gift of a future. It blows my mind and I see how much I've been limiting my hopes and dreams.
My immediate goal is to regain some “bodily functions!” Then I can eat real food, lose the i.v., and be discharged.
I am completely excited for my life!
For now- it’s sleepytime.
Posted - June 25, 2007
9:30am - I just got off the phone after talking to Karen. She sounds fantastic! Of course, she is still as amazed as we all are with her miraculous turn of events.
She reports that they found even more tumors than expected but that many of them had already been killed off by the chemotherapy. She is still in a great deal of pain, but has a wonderful medical team treating her well and supporting her.
Already out of the ICU, she may be able to leave the hospital entirely as soon as the end of the week. She expects that she'll remain in Baltimore a few weeks to regulate everything and then transfer her recovery back to Seattle by the end of July.
During the conversation we used the word "miracle" repeatedly. I think we're both at a loss to describe it as anything else.
As you can guess -if you know Karen - she has already explored her recovery floor and found a computer platform she is able to access in the evenings. As she gains strength, she'll send her own updates and we'll post them here.
Posted June 22, 2007
So many of you have been praying along with us this year as we asked for God's healing spirit to touch our middle school teacher Karen Pasqualetto. As you know, Karen was diagnosed with stage four cancer of the colon and liver last July, shortly after delivering her first, beautiful child, Isabel. The road has been difficult, as numerous treatment regimens seemed to hold promise, only to ultimately run their course. Still, Karen and her family have kept faith and have rejoiced in each day, knowing that this gift of time has exceeded what many health professionals had originally predicted, given her condition.
In last week's Progress, you may have noticed a picture of Karen with Isabel as she was preparing to head back to Baltimore for a complex surgical procedure at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center which took place yesterday. A late telephone call indicates that we may once again be witness to the miracle of prayer!
The surgeon was able to discover what no scan or test could show. Karen's tumors were situated in such a way that he was able to aggressively remove both the colon masses and the diseased tissue around the other organs. While she is left with just 30% of the liver, the hope is that she can regenerate enough function over the next three months that they can begin to discuss recovery - a prospect that was unthinkable even just a week ago.
This morning she is alert and as well as can be expected. She and the family are full of a renewed sense of joy that will buoy them in the many difficult - and still unknown - weeks ahead. They send their sincere thanks to everyone for your prayers and not giving up hope.
Last week at our closing Mass, we prayed with and for Karen as she readied herself for the coming ordeal. As part the blessing we prayed:
Divine Healer and Lord of Wholeness,
together we place ourselves in Your hands.
We ask for healing but also for acceptance
of Your holy plan for each of us.
Help us embrace whatever You have decreed for Karen,
assist her in the acceptance of the sickness
as You support her with the strength of Your Holy Spirit.
None of us can fully predict what the days ahead will bring, but we all have been reminded that God indeed hears our petitions and sometimes that Holy Plan can take some very unexpected turns.
Our St. Madeleine Sophie community thanks you!