Wednesday, April 18, 2018

4/18/18 Scan Results and New Drug Update

Dear Family and Friends,

Many of you have been asking about the results of my recent CT scan, in light of my rapidly rising tumor marker.   Since Steve was working, Renée accompanied me to the oncologist to review the scan last week.  The bad news is that my cancer has grown.  There are more spots in my liver and the size of various lymph nodes around my abdomen, heart, lungs, and thyroid, have grown as well.  But the good news is that all of the spots are 1.9 centimeters or less.  And according to the oncologist, it is not yet time to be gravely concerned (perhaps “grave”ly is not the best choice of words when we are trying NOT to be concerned)!  J

Some really good news is that after just two chemotherapy treatments with my new drug, Gemsar, my tumor marker dropped 80 points!  Remember I had asked you to pray that I would be in the 20% of people for whom this drug works?  It appears that I may be in that group—although I hesitate to confirm that until I’ve had a few more tumor marker tests.  My oncologist taught me that it is not good medicine to decide things based on one lab test.  For now, let’s just say that we are greatly encouraged by this auspicious start!

The difficult part about the new drug is that it makes me quite sick—sicker than any prior drug I have been on.  In addition to the usual nausea, fatigue, and constipation, the new drug has brought low-grade fevers, flu-like aches, and migraine headaches.  But now that I have made it through four treatments with gemsar, I have figured out the rhythm of the drug, and have learned that the challenging new level of sickness it brings only lasts for three days.  By day four, it begins to turn around.  Food sounds appealing again.  A walk seems doable again.  And once again, my days seem more filled with joy than struggle.  Thus, during the three bad days I have learned to tell myself multiple times per day, “You will not always feel as awful as you do at this moment—so hang in there.” 

As I was observing the rhythm of my gemsar treatments this past week, we received some horrific news—that a friend of Renée’s had committed suicide.  It cut us all to the core to learn that this sweet young woman—an only child, whose smile, energy, and spirit lit up a room—was so overwhelmed by her life’s burdens that she needed to make the pain stop, once and for all.  We mourn with her parents the loss of one so very dear, and cry out to God for understanding, peace, and comfort.  And in comparison to the pain and suffering this young woman endured, my having to survive three days a week of bad chemo side effects seems like a very small thing.

I told Steve on our drive home from chemo today with my nauseous tummy that all I wanted was to get home and be still.  No driving over potholes, no walking here or there—just sitting, very, very still.  And that made me think of the Bible verse that says “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10  Whether we are facing illness, or the grief to end all griefs of losing a child—as we sit in the stillness with our pain, may we hear the voice of God gently whispering to us, “Do not fear, for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10   


Daniel took us out to dinner at FlintCreek Cattle Co. in Greenwood to thank us for helping him get through medical school.  Their happy hour burger is divine (but you must get there right at 4 PM before they sell out), and so was this molten chocolate cake dessert!

I had a great time at my friend, Ami's, baby shower.  Eager to meet baby boy Juel!

Jericho loves his aunties Nay Nay and Riley!

This is an "outie" navel orange if ever there was one!

On the way home from chemo today, we stopped at the Amazon Treasure Truck to buy some filet mignon steaks to help my red blood cells.  I'll know in a few hours if I was able to stomach them on chemo day or (more likely) not!