Friday, July 23, 2010

Life a little more "normal"

The fact that I haven't posted anything in 2 months is a good, good thing. Emily had her 3 month CT scan and oncologist appointment this week. It has been 3 months since her final chemo treatment. The nurses were SO complimentary of how great she looks. She now has cute short hair, and is back to her pre-cancer weight. She looks really healthy. She feels great and is active and is getting her stamina back as well.

The CT scan shows she remains CANCER FREE! YEAH!!! The Dr. said everything looks great. There were 2 small symmetrical spots on either side of her trachea, but she reassured us she was sure they were biproducts of radiation. Because they were very small, the same size, and symmetrical as well as being in the spot where radiation occured, she was not concerned. The CT film will be sent to the radiologist for him to read it, but unless there is a problem, we will not hear from him.

Emily goes in every 6 weeks to get her port flushed, and every 3 months to get a CT scan. She will have the port in for at least a year. I'm sure her "normal" will never quite be the same, but life has evened out, and we spend less time with Dr's and appointments. She is in the process of being tested by an allergist to determine if she is allergic to lidocain. This is the drug they originally thought might have caused her problems and sent her to ICU back last fall. Most of the experts think it was the large tumor near her trachea, but it will be good to know for sure! Her allergy appointment is scheduled for 8-16. She is looking forward to heading back to Stillwater in just a few weeks.

The last year has been a crazy one, but I can say that we have never felt God's presence more strongly or the love of our friends and family. Our own family is closer and I feel we have all grown in many ways. Phillipians 1:5 says, "the One who began a good work among you will bring it to completion". We feel God is working on healing Emily and touching peoples lives in the process. Thanks for all your prayers along the way. God bless each of you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Finished!! Yeah!!!

Emily has finished all planned treatments and is considered "cancer free". They will not say "in remission" for years, but cancer free is a very good thing! She finished radiation, and due to some very powerful drugs, was able to get through it with very little throat pain after the initial problems. We thank you all for your prayers and thoughts. They worked! She has many scans and appointments in her future, but having chemo and radiation behind her is a very good feeling. Her hair is growing back, and her life is beginning to feel a little more normal. She just finished a TCC class, and was going to look for a job, but we asked her to please just relax! So we hope she can relax, get her strength back, and have some fun this summer. She deserves it!

They will keep a very close eye on her to make sure the cancer doesn't come back. She asked how long she would keep her port, and they told her a year That is a long time to worry about cancer returning, but I think that is her new normal. People who have been through this tell us that each year you are cancer free, it gets a little easier. We have also been told because of the chemo, and the number of PET and CT scans, those factors increase your chance of health issues down the road. It is hard not to worry! We have to believe that because God has been so faithful in every step of this journey, He will continue to take care of her! I have never felt God's presence in such a real way as in the last 9 months. We could not have made it this far without our unbelievably supportive family and friends!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Radiation....not so fun!!!

Well, Emily is struggling with her radiation. First we had the nausea, and thankfully that is no longer an issue since she started an antinausea pill before each radiation treatment. But, now she has a severe, and I mean severe sore throat. Apparently these are normal reactions to having radiation close to your esophagus, but because her radiation doses are so low, they didn't think these would be issues. Well they are.

Radiation causes a feeling of sunburn internally, and so her throat feels sunburned, and she doesn't feel like swallowing, which means not feeling like eating or drinking. She saw the Dr. today, and they said no problem, we will give you some stuff you drink that helps numb the area. We had already looked up online some remedies last night and was familiar with this, the only problem is that it contains lidocane, which they are still not sure if she is allergic to. So now they have given her a pill to take 3 times a day. It can make her tired on top of the radiation's affects of fatigue, so we don't really know what to expect.

She was told originally she would need 2 weeks of radiation treatments, but the radiologist said that she will actually have 17 treatments. As of today she has had 11, so only 6 more to go. So all of this is to ask for prayers. I really don't want her to lose weight, she has just now regained all of her weight from precancer. The Dr. cautioned her to be careful about dehydration since she doesn't feel like drinking. We keep focusing on Emily is cancer free, and all we have to do is get through this last step, and get closer to complete healing. God has been faithful in getting us this far, so I am confident that he is with Emily through radiation as well. But I am a big believer in prayer, so we appreciate yours!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Update - Radiation

Well, Emily finished finals on Mon. of this last week, came home, and started radiation on Tues. She worked really hard this last semester, and is proud to announce she made all A's! She had some tough classes, and we are SO proud of her! Her professors really went out of their way to make it possible to come home for all her xrays, PET scans, CT scans and pre-radiation appointments, and still finish the semester.

However, if you have college kids, or remember back to that time, a normal college kid comes home tired and wiped out physically and mentally from finals and not getting enough sleep. So Emily was pretty tired to begin with, and started radiation not in the best physical form. Her first radiation treatment was on Tues., and she did fine, but on Wed, Thurs, and Friday, she felt pretty nauseous in the evenings. She called the nurse, and was told to take the meds she used during chemo. They helped, but she is disappointed that it is making her feel bad, when she was hoping to breeze through. Everyone we know that has been through radiation told us she would not have any major side effects except general fatigue. We are hoping once she gets some rest, next week will be better.

She goes everyday for radiation, and will do 15 radiation treatment. So 2 more weeks, Mon. through Friday, and the following Mon. The actual appointment only takes about 20-30 minutes, and there is no discomfort at all. She drives her self to and from the appointment on her own. Everyone has been a huge support for our family, and we continue to be blessed by God's faithfulness in taking care of Emily.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Chapter 2...Radiation

We had our first radiology appointment on Friday. We liked the Dr. It was a long appt., they took a lot of medical information from Emily and then explained how radiation works, and then set the plan for Emily. Many people have asked why she needs radiation if all her cancer is gone. They are doing radiation to keep the cancer from coming back. It will be 3 weeks of radiation, and that is every day, Monday thru Friday. This was a pleasant surprise because we had been told it might be 6 weeks. We asked if she could wait until school was finished for the year and he told us "no". He explained that there was a window of 4-6 weeks from the last chemo that they needed to start the radiation. He then said from when her last chemo was, she needed to start radiation on Mon. May 3rd. Emily has finals week starting May 3rd. But she only has 2 finals that day, and then is finished because her other classes are papers that can be turned in early. So the Dr. said, no problem, she can start radiation on Tues. May 4th. Emily was thrilled that she won't have to come back and forth from Stillwater to Tulsa every day!!! God is Good!!!

We had to explain to the Dr. why we were talking about trying to schedule radiation around school. To an outsider I know he must have thought we didn't have our priorities straight! Obviously, radiation and getting healthy are more important than school. We wanted him to understand that she has worked SO hard to keep in school while battling cancer,and It was her fear that after all that hard work, then she might not be able to finish this sememster. I think he got it, because he was really willing to work with us, and we appreciated that! She has an appointment this coming Thurs. for the radiation team to compare her PET scans to her actual body, and determine exactly where the tumors were and where she will need radiation. They draw on her body, take measurements, and put those measurements into a machine that will put the radiation in very exact locations. Technology is amazing! She is receiving a small level of radiation, and they are expecting very few side effects. The only one he really mentioned is fatigue and some minor "sun burned" feeling. According to everyone we've talked to, radiation is pretty mild compared to chemo.

Kitty Kickin Cancer=
We went from the Dr. to Stillwater where Emily had put together a Relay for Life Team. Jim, Emily, me and 10 of her college friends were on the team. Our team was "kitty kickin cancer". When Emily was in ICU, Sam, Sydney, and Bobbie gave her a Hello Kitty balloon like the one in the picture above. It looks like she is kicking something, so her friends told her it was to help her "kick cancer". They gave it to her at the end of September, and it is still in her room and still inflated. Yes still inflated!!! It has stayed strong for the entire 7 months that Emily has been kicking cancer!
I have to tell you, Relay for Life was an amazing event. We didn't reallly know what to expect other than we knew we had to stay up from 7 pm to 7 am. We learned at an opening ceremony that the event begins at dark to signify the darkness of when you learn of the "cancer" diagnosis. Someone from your team walks laps continually, and that signifies the difficulty of facing and battling cancer. You can't just take a break from cancer when you get tired or overwhelmed. As we heard many times through the night, "cancer doesn't sleep". The closing ceremony is at sunrise, to signify the hope of a cure. There were many heart -warming and heart breaking stories. They had a ton of fun activities to keep you awake. Just ask Jim about dodge ball!!! Our team exceeded our goal, so we thank everyone who sponsered us! And Stillwater's Relay for Life raised over 87,000 dollars! I don't know many people who have not been touched by cancer in some way, and we felt blessed to be a part of the event.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives all fear is Gone!

Happy Easter !!! Next step...radiation. Emily had an oncologist appt. this Friday. All the results of the scans were great! There is still no sign of cancer and all lung functions are completely normal, no damage from chemo! So the next step was to determine if radiation is necessary, and it is. Our oncologist and the radiologist she consulted with agreed radiation is needed. This is an answer to prayer. We prayed for wisdom for the Dr. and that it would be a unanimous decision. We will have an appt. with the radiologist in 2 to 3 weeks, and will find out at that time how many weeks she will need. We know it will be every day Mon. thru Friday, and the max is usually 6 weeks.

We asked if it could be started in Stillwater and finished in Tulsa, and were told no. Our Dr. thought it was best to get treatment all from one radiologist for a couple of reasons. The major one being it was just safer, and you would get better results from only one Dr. treating you and following your case, and second insurance would not have reasons to question it. So Emily will come home every day from Stillwater to get treatment, and we pray her professors will be willing to work with her.

Emily is feeling good, and is busy with school. I just have to brag... She is getting an "Outstanding Academic Execellence and Leadership Award" this coming week. We are just so proud of her. She has done so well in school and had to deal with the physical and emotional hardships of battling cancer at the same time! Once again, we give all the praise to our Heavenly Father who has watched over her and us and given her strength beyond our comprehension.

This Easter for me took on more meaning than usual. I have always marveled that Our God would send his son to die and rise for us that we might live. But having seen my own child suffer, I am overwhelmed by His love! Our family wishes you a blessed Easter!!!!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Celebrate! Celebrate!

Well, Emily completed chemo #12, and hopefully her last chemo! Yeah!!!! In some ways it seems like yesterday we received her diagnosis, and in other ways it seems like a really long time ago. It has been an emotional journey, and one we are not quite done with yet. Her appointment went well, and her chemo was uneventful. The plan is to have tests(pulmonary, CT scan, PET scan) done in the next 2 weeks, and then meet back with the oncologist on April 2nd. She will review the results of the tests, and decide if radiation is needed. There are specific criteria they use to determine if radiation is needed, and Emily was just on the borderline. We have decided we are trusting in the decision as what is best, and will go with the flow.

At the spur of the moment, we decided to celebrate her last chemo, and called a few family and friends Many of them had not been in the same room since Emily was in ICU, and we all agreed it was a much better day! We had cake with a purple ribbon on it, which is the symbol for Hodgkins awareness (like pink ribbon is for breast cancer support). Emily has been an incredible inspiration to us all, and once again, we were commenting on the tremendous support we have received as a family. So we thank each one of you who have said a prayer, sent an encouraging word, or let us know you have thought about us! We praise our heavenly Father for his faithfulness and love!