I fully expected a negative scan and my doctors had hoped and expected this as well. After 3 ABVD cycles this is the norm and around 90% of Hodgkins patients reach that by this point. A negative scan at the halfway point is the greatest predictor of a favorable long term outcome, however an additional 3 cycles of chemo would have still been necessary to clean up any lingering cancerous cells. The good news was my scan showed significantly less size, mass and avidity of the cancer. The bad news was there was still evidence of the disease. It was not the clean scan I was hoping for, praying for and expecting and for this I was devastated. I just wanted the cancer to be gone, out of my body. I wondered why my cancer was more stubborn and hadn't cooperated or responded fully as it should. I wondered if I had done something wrong, had I been doing too much, not enough, not drinking enough green smoothies, too much exercise, too little? There was also some inflammation revealed in my lungs and armpit which they were concerned about. It could have been due to an infection, it could have been due to the pulmonary toxicity of the Bleomycin which can cause fibrosis or worse case, it could have been new growth. My Oncologist was away on vacation so it was my Nurse Practitioner who had the responsibility of relaying this news to me and the rest of my team (husband, mother, father and sister). While she was optimistic about the general direction of the cancer and pleased with the response in terms of shrinkage she also said that there was no denying the results of many studies and recognized how anxiety inducing this new information was. It would likely mean a longer course of chemo than planned and perhaps pulling the Bleomycin out of my chemotherapy cocktail, if it was the source of the inflammation and responsible for my new cough. She explained they were still waiting on the final read from the radiologist and she would talk to my doctor and give me his thoughts as well. From there it was time for my chemotherapy session. Jim, My father and sister headed back to work but one of my best friends, Emily, came to keep my mom and me company and it was a great relief to have her there.
My chemotherapy session wasn't with out its own complications. At one point as my nurse was injecting one of the drugs and it began leaking onto the blanket. Three other nurses in hazmat suits immediate rushed in to clear out the contaminated bedding; a poignant reminder of just how toxic and potent these drugs which are entering into my bloodstream really are.
I woke today with the promise of a new day, more determined than ever to defeat this disease and rid it from my body. My nurse practitioner called with some reassuring news that they had a CT expert radiologist review my scans and he felt that the inflammation is from post-operative damage and not new growth which is good news. She said that she hasn't talked to my Oncologist about any other patient since he left for vacation but they had already had 6 conversations about me because they wanted to be able to give me the most reassurance possible. I am thankful for the thorough attentiveness of my doctors and nurses.
I received this Prayer in the form of an email from my friend Megan ( an inspirational cancer survivor herself) and it couldn't have come at a better time:
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE “LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear.” (Psalm 10:17, NKJV)
Perhaps my journey to the Promise Land, where I will be cancer-free will take longer than planned, but I will be better and stronger because of it.
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria In the scripture, it says that God didn’t lead the Israelites by the shortest route to the Promised Land; He took them the long way on purpose because they were not prepared for war. God knew that if He would have taken them into the land too quickly, they would have been easily defeated. Their enemies were much bigger and much more experienced. I’m sure they prayed many times, “God, we’re uncomfortable out here in the desert. We’re hot. We’re tired. Where’s our Promised Land?”But God didn’t answer that prayer, not because He was trying to make their lives miserable, but because He knew what was up in front of them. He had to prepare them to step into the fullness of their destiny.In the same way, God has already laid out the plan for your life. He knows exactly what you need and when you need it. If you are in a difficult situation that’s taking longer than you had hoped, know that God is preparing you. He is strengthening you. Stay in faith and keep praising Him as you move forward into the Promised Land He has for you!