In Sickness and in Health

Battling cancer with love, medicine, and the Giver of both.

Between “set” and “go”

Some updates.

Yesterday Dr. Ali communicated some results from the tests Jean has been doing. They finally got the original biopsy results from Mayo Clinic and confirmed a Classical Hodgkin lymphoma. Of the four types of Hodgkin’s this type is the most common. For whatever it’s worth, it’s also called nodular sclerosis. He was happy which means we are happy.

The MUGA scan and pulmonary test came back clear.

The PET scan showed a Stage III cancer, which means she has some swelling on both sides of her neck as well as in her chest and abdomen near her liver. Stage III sounds bad, but apparently Hodgkin stages are not as worrisome as stages in other cancers; it’s basically a rating system of how many nodes are affected. Again, he’s not worried, so we’re not worried.

The initial results of the bone marrow biopsy are also in the clear.

We are grateful for the good news and additional information! Somehow its comforting to know the enemy very well.

Earlier today Jean had the Mediport placement done which required a 40-minute surgery of sorts. The nurses and doctor were great. As was Jean. Despite enjoying the sedation (an admission made while under its influence) she snapped out of it rather quickly and walked out of the hospital an hour later. No wheelchair for her, thank you very much. That’s my woman!

Thanks for caring. Keep praying. The next several days feel like the calm before the storm.

My sedated sleeping beauty

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Two down…two to go

We are currently working our hardest to clog earth and heaven’s wireless signals with messages of praise for a successful bone-marrow biopsy. It was more involved than we expected, but Jean is doing well despite the pain. With only local injections for the pain, it was significant. She’s a tough one, however. But I’m under orders to keep the bragging on her to a minimum. We really are grateful to God!

I stood by her side as long as possible but finished outside the room. I guess I don’t do too well with watching a doctor insert needle after needle into my wife’s pelvis area.*

We were once again very impressed with Dr. Ali and his staff. Very professional, yet very human. Jean particularly finds their humor to be relaxing during a procedure like this.

The PET scan happened yesterday without much incident, so we’re looking forward to getting the last several pre-treatment procedures done and gone.

*We’re finding that the medical terminology is as sterile as the environment. “Needle” refers to anything from a fine wisp of metal to a hulking piece of metal normally classified as a rod. “Insert” is also too clean. They don’t mention that the process of insertion can include but is not limited to jabbing, poking, twisting, and screwing

Post-procedure recovery

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So far

We’re finding that illnesses like cancer operate similar to a story plot. Currently we’re past the conflict introduction but far away from the climax. Rising action I think they call it. The resolution is a distant hope, shrouded in uncertainty.

Here is a brief synopsis of the events leading up to the present.

Past month: Jean noticed a swollen lymph gland on her neck and had it checked by her doctor. Doctor ordered an ultrasound which returned inconclusive but suggested possibility of lymphoma and recommended further testing. Biopsy completed.

March 13: The doctor who performed the biopsy called with the news that the pathologist found cells indicating Hodgkin’s lymphoma and recommended we set up an appointment with an oncologist.

March 19: We met with Dr. Syed Ali at Fauquier Hospital. He confirmed the diagnosis and ordered five pre-chemotherapy tests/procedures so that we can start chemo in approximately two weeks–a MUGA scan, a PET scan, a bone marrow biopsy, a pulmonary exam, and a procedure to insert a Medi-port.

March 20: MUGA scan completed.

Currently we’re looking at six months of chemo starting around the beginning of April–one treatment every two weeks. On the off week Jean will need to have her blood counts checked. We are grateful for much in regards to treatment: the relatively short duration, prescription meds to control nausea, and the high cure rate for Hodgkin’s. However, the chemo is pretty much standard fare, so we’re expecting the normal side effects like hair loss and risk of infertility to name a few.

One needs a certain level of optimism going into something like this, and we’re determined to make the best of it and inject as much creativity as possible. But determination sometimes falters. Then once we’re done fighting the shadows on our own, God renews our spirits and reminds us that this is one of those treks completed by taking one laborious step after another. So far He’s been as faithful as ever. God’s awesome like that…

Thanks for caring.

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First post

In order to keep our many friends and relations updated, we are starting this blog. More details forthcoming.

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