Day 44 – Saturday (10/06/18)
Next blog update will be posted by Sunday, October 14th, at midnight.
Hi again everyone. This has been a very busy week, and a lot has happened. The week started with a bone marrow biopsy. This is common practice to check for anyone who has been diagnosed with lymphoma. If the lymphoma has gone into the bones, it changes the cancer stage from 2 to 4. The test was somewhat painful at certain points. The best way I can describe the pain was a root canal for your lower back (it was really the upper part of my hip bone). I had a root canal some 10 years ago… and this brought back memories. Fast forward to Friday, and I got fantastic news. The bone marrow biopsy came back negative. This means I do not have to have another biopsy, and that I officially only have Stage 2 lymphoma. This significantly increases the odds that after treatment, I can be deemed cancer free. The next test I had to do this week was an EKG. I thought going into the test, it was just your basic “put “stickers” on you, run some kind of electrical test, and you’re done”. What I didn’t realize is this was actually an ultrasound of the heart. The test took about 45 minutes, and the technician took about 50 screenshots/videos/readings etc. The purpose of this test was to establish a baseline of my hearts function prior to receiving chemo treatment. Blood work was also taken to have a baseline for all of the vital numbers.
The next big hurdle was getting my vital port installed. I was under a wrong impression of this also. I figured I would have IV type tubes hanging out somewhere, that the nurses would use to administer treatment. In actuality, the port is installed completed under your skin (just below my collar bone). In order to use it to draw blood for labs, or administer chemo, you have to “access” it. This is a fancy piece that pokes through the skin, into the port, and has all the IV tubes hooked to it. Then, when finished, the nurse simple pulls the piece back out, the skin heals, and the port remains hidden under the skin. In order to install the port, it was an outpatient surgery that took about 45 minutes (in the actual operating room). They used a “lesser” level of anesthesia on this procedure (compared to the surgical biopsy), and I woke up and was able to leave the hospital much quicker.
Friday was the big day where I actually received my first treatment. I got a total of 8 bags of drugs/chemicals over 8 hours. Basically, it was a bag of “side effect” deterrence, then the chemo bag. Then another bag of “side effect” deterrence (for the side effects of the next chemo bag), then the next chemo bag. The chemo bags were the 4 chemicals RCHOP (as discussed in the previous post). The P is prednisone, and it is just in pill form that I take, and was not administered through the IV. One risk that was possible was an allergic reaction to the actual chemicals. If this were to happen, it happens while they are actually being administered. I made it through the process with no reactions, so that part worked out good. After all the bags were administered, they put an “auto-dosing device” on my arm. This device is to dose one last drug 27 hours after chemo. My understanding is this… The chemo kills off a lot of my white and some of my red blood cells. The drug in this “device” sends some kind of signal to your brain to make your bone marrow start reproducing / overproducing white and red blood cells. If they give this to you right after chemo, the new cells being produced would just be killed as fast as they were made. By waiting 27 hours, the chemo should be “diluted” in your system enough that your body can start making the cells again. The side effect of this auto-dosing drug is “bone pain”. The nurse said that numerous patients reported that taking Claritin (yes the anti-histamine), prevented this side-effect. Ironically, literally as I’m typing about this… the dosing device started beeping and is now administering the medicine. They said it takes 45 minutes for it to finish. At that point it should beep again, and I can peel it off. It injects the medicine through a needle that felt a lot like pricking your finger to check blood sugar.
I have to give a lot of thanks to God for helping me through all the activities this week. I was really worried about the bone marrow biopsy, because I had been told they were painful. While it did hurt, it was not as bad as I thought. Even more important than God helping me through the procedure, was God allowing the results to come back negative. This was a huge psychological victory for me. Next, God helping the surgeon with my port install, and everything going smoothly there was another blessing. Then, as the first bag of chemo started going in, I was praying that God would help everything go smoothly and that I wouldn’t have any allergic reactions. Again, God was there, and everything went as well as chemo can go. Reflecting on everything so far (since they found the mass) it is clear God choose not to simply take away the mass in the form of a miracle. Some people may ask why not. The answer is simple. That was not His will. He had a purpose for me to go through this process. That purpose may not be fully known to me at this time, but I know it includes this blog. It includes giving me a testimony that I can use to share with others what God did for me through this process. It includes God getting the glory in the end. What I’m seeing right now, is that while God needs me to go through this whole process, He is also helping me with every step of the process. There has not been one single complication so far. All of the tests, surgery’s, chemo administration… everything has gone as good as I could have ever imagined. I know I’m only on day 2 of treatment with another 18 weeks of chemo and 4-6 weeks of radiation ahead of me, but I have confidence that God has helped me this far, and He will help me the rest of the way. Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light”. I feel this is what God is doing for me in this process. He is taking the bulk of the burden for Me, and helping me every step of the way.
Dear heavenly Father, You are an awesome God. I thank You so very much for helping the bone marrow biopsy results come back negative for cancer. This removed a huge burden off of me. Thank You for helping guide the doctor during the port installation. Thank You for helping me not have any allergic reactions to the administering of the chemo. While it was not Your will to simply remove this trial from me, You have proven faithful in helping me every step of the way. I can’t imagine that this process could have gone any better up to this point. I have complete confidence that as we go through the rest of this process together, on the other side, the cancer will be gone, and I will have an awesome testimony that I can share with others. I pray that You get all the glory through this, and that You utilize me as needed to share the gospel and a personal testimony of how You helped me throughout this trial. Again, you are an awesome God, and I thank You for everything. Amen.