When I wrote Andrea’s birthday letter last year, our world was being turned upside down by COVID 19. This year, as we celebrate Andrea’s 36th birthday on March 27, 2021, I want to share with you how Andrea navigated 2020 with all the challenges, obstacles and uncertainties that were thrown at her, the last including a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.
Last March, Andrea started Trikafta, the miracle drug that has changed the lives of many CF patients. It prevented her from having to make hospital visits and needing IV antibiotics during the pandemic. Unfortunately, the side effects of insomnia, restless leg syndrome, panic, mental fog and confusion made it very difficult to tolerate. It has been quite a balancing act because too low of a dose caused her to develop sinus infections and increasing her dosage caused terrible GI issues. There is always a learning curve with new medications and we hope that the dosage she is presently on will continue to be effective with minimal adverse reactions.
One of the biggest challenges Andrea faced was not being able to travel to North Carolina every three months for her routine checkups for preventative medicine. This is vital to keeping Andrea as healthy as possible. Due to her complicated history and co-morbidities (cystic fibrosis, double lung transplant, diabetes, PTLD, etc.), it is imperative that she is followed on a regular basis and that was impossible during a pandemic. Andrea was in the emergency room on two occasions as a result of food becoming lodged in her esophagus. Sadly, without an advocate by her side due to COVID, Andrea’s care was a nightmare! She eventually had a barium swallow test which was inconclusive for her GI issue but showed something suspicious on her thyroid (her GI issue eventually resolved without a definitive answer). The most difficult part for Andrea was waiting a very long two weeks for the results of the biopsy of her thyroid. She has proven to herself and everyone who knows her that she will deal with whatever comes her way but the uncertainty was almost unbearable. With a diagnosis of thyroid cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes, Andrea travelled to North Carolina in January to have her thyroid removed and a lymph node dissection. She will have to follow up with radioactive iodine therapy, a treatment that requires her to be isolated from family and friends. Basically, she will have to “quarantine alone in a quarantine.”
Now that I have shared some of the difficulties Andrea faced, let me tell you the great stuff! To begin, Andrea celebrated her five year “lung anniversary”, with gratitude to her donor and family for making it all possible. She has enjoyed a very successful year as a realtor and has decided to take the next step to become a broker. Andrea, Adam and Bryce formulated a plan to vacation safely and took a trip for some outdoor fun including, horseback riding, hiking and water activities. A small Levy family reunion “COVID” style was definitely another highlight. After months of virtual schooling, Bryce was able to go back to school in person safely and very happily! Another silver lining of COVID was Adam working from home which has been a great help to Andrea AND has given their family
more quality time together. Not even a pandemic could stop Andrea from living life to its fullest!
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation needs our help now more than ever! They shared with us that the funds raised from this letter last year had a HUGE impact and they were so grateful as they received virtually no other general donations during the beginning of the pandemic. In honor of Andrea’s 36th birthday, let’s make a difference together!
With Gratitude As Always,
Linda and Robby Levy
(Proud Aunt and Uncle and G-dparents)