Note: I realize that with a journey like this people want different degrees of updates: none, acquaintance level, friend level, family level, and mom/wife level. So instead of multiple blog posts or email updates, I’ll just put some observations and updates here and anyone interested can check at their convenience. Be blessed, and thanks for all the encouragement and prayers!
January 27, 2022 update: Just got scan results showing complete remission for now. Getting another scan in two months. This result increases the odds of longer-term remission from 40% to 80%. Very grateful to God, the medical team, and all those supporting and praying for us.
January 2, 2022 update: The t-cell process seems to have gone well. I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks over the holidays. For obvious reasons I don’t mention on social media when I won’t be at home. I’ll get scans over the next few months to see if it worked. If not, we’ll be looking at experimental treatments. Many thanks for all the prayers!
November 6, 2021 update: The first round of chemo helped shrink the tumors, so I have little pain now. Very grateful for that. Still having trouble eating and keeping my weight up, so hoping for relief soon. Another round of chemo this week.
I’ve had lots of time to read the word even more and to cycle through my Bible Memory verses more often. Being reminded of God’s countless and true promises has been encouraging.
It occurred to me that while the first three diagnoses were legitimate surprises, it won’t be a surprise if it comes back again. The first came out of nowhere, the second was a surprise because it came back much more quickly than expected and in a much more aggressive state, and the third came back much more quickly than expected as well. We figured with the extra stem cell transplant/high dose chemo regimen that it would have been in remission longer (we know one guy who has been in remission over 10 years after that treatment). But now we have a different perspective. You only get so many tries at killing this for good, and this cancer is particularly resilient and aggressive.
Here’s a video on the CAR T-cell therapy I’ll be doing in a bit. This isn’t chemo, it is a process that trains your T-cells to kill cancer. It is amazing how God designed all this.
We continue to be so grateful for all the prayers and support we get. It is overwhelming.
October 22, 2021 update: Confirmed that it is a return of my non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Apparently, that is good, because if it was something else it probably would have been terminal. Starting chemo next week to hopefully shrink it a bit and keep it from growing and spreading. Ideally, that will reduce or eliminate the back pain and make it so I can eat regularly again. Then we will start the process to do a CAR T-cell procedure to hopefully eliminate it. Thanks for all the prayers and support. We appreciate it deeply.
No updates, just a thought that when you go through this three times it does speed up the way you process it.
It is back. I was hoping that Cancer 2 would be the final post like this, but here we are. We hope to get a biopsy and treatment plan in the next week or so. It was a bit surprising to have it come back so quickly. I went through extensive chemotherapy last summer that put it in remission and then went through an additional high-dose chemo/stem cell transplant ten months ago that was supposed to extend the remission. And my scan in June was clean. Yet here we are. The good news is that we caught this one early.
It is always a good day to be a Christian, but especially so at times like this. My faith isn’t based on God keeping me healthy and happy at all times, but on the evidence for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and by the power of his word transforming my heart and mind. So having cancer diagnoses hasn’t set my faith back at all. This is another plot twist in life that we must manage through. And there is nothing like a situation such as this to give you a laser focus on what’s important.
As before, we’d obviously like healing, and as permanently as possible, but we truly want to glorify God and have many opportunities to witness to his truth and love (and we already had the latter answered the day we got the official diagnosis).
We are so blessed with amazing and supportive family and friends. That is the most touching part of all of this.
Side note: From the time I emailed my doctor about some minor symptoms to the time of getting the results from my scan was 72 hours, with various tests and such in-between. Take that, socialized medicine! (I would probably have died long ago in any other country.)
I joked that I was just getting my weight, strength, and hair back from the last treatment, and now we are going to start again. I think it may turn out like this:
Me, to my hair: I’m going through chemo and you’ll fall out, but please try to grow back.
My hair: Done!
Me: I’m going through chemo again. Please try to grow back.
My hair: Uh, we’ll try, but it could be patchy for a while.
Me: OK, now I’m going through chemo for a third time. Please try to grow back.
My hair: LOL no.
On our way to my first hospital stay last year we got behind a car with a message on the rear window in 6” high letters that said “F*** CANCER.” Except they spelled it out. I joked that if it was MD Anderson’s new slogan then it was a bold one.
I posted this commentary and video less than two months ago to give others some tips and encouragement for navigating through cancer journeys. Did I say I’d had cancer twice? I meant three times. I think I need to watch it, then re-do it.
Cancer is a challenge for the patient and for caregivers. I’ve been through extensive treatments for two different cancers and have some things to share. I pray that this will help you navigate through challenging times, whether cancer-related or not, and that you will be encouraged. Don’t waste your cancer or any other challenge.
We were blessed to have a week away from home for the first time in two years (other than hospital stays!), and we did a little dancing on the beach. The sand was a challenge. And I forgot to plan an ending. But it was a nice souvenir. I realized a week after this that the cancer was probably back. Thank God for tender mercies. You want to enjoy these gifts wherever you have them.