Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chemo begins

Emily began her chemo today. She just finished her first dose of 4 different medicines, but it was the one they were most worried about. They did a 10 min. test drip through her IV to make sure she did not react negatively. We had a whole team standing by in case there were problems, but they were not needed! Thank you for your prayers! Then they gave her the full dose, and once again, no problems! Now she just started her 2nd medicine and everything is going well! She is sleeping through it all due to already being sedated, and then plus anti-nausea medicine that makes her sleepy. The doctors now hope the chemo will shrink the tumor pressing against her trachea, and they can take out the tube and get her off the ventilator. So please pray for quick shrinking of the tumor. She will be weak once we get her off that due to being sedated for so long, but we can handle that. God bless you all for your prayers, cards, and care packages. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One day at a time!!!

Thanks for all the prayers, they are working. Emily had her port inserted with no problems. I think the surgeon, Dr. T, was as relieved as we were. Now comes the next challenge... The doctors think the reason the trachea is not reduced in swelling and they can't get the tube out is that a mass from the Hodgkins is pressing on her trachea. We knew the mass was there, but did not know it was going to cause so many problems. We have her first chemo treatment tomorrow at 10:00. The doctors pulled us aside and explained they are concerned about her and her reaction to the chemo based on her previous reactions, and not knowing what is causing them. They once again are taking lots of precautions, and we are in the optimal situation to handle problems.. we have the best trained ICU nurses and oncology nurses and doctors to guide us through this. She is already intubated and on a ventilator, so we know she will get air, but they are still very concerned. So please pray she can tolerate the chemo with no side effects! They think we may have to rely on the chemo to shrink the mass before we can get the tube out. So they have prepared us for a couple of weeks in ICU! I am not excited about that prospect, so also pray we can get the tube out sooner! I will try to update each day, but once again PLEASE keep those prayers coming. We truly believe God is bigger than all our fears, and we believe in miracles!

Monday, September 28, 2009

New plan!

Ok, we have a new plan. Due to Emily having to be on the ventilator and tube, they are going ahead and inserting the port tomorrow morning, Tues. at 9:30. They feel it is safer not to attempt this later. So please say a prayer for us. They are taking lots of precautions, and we think it is the right thing to do, but are nervous about it. Then they will give her first chemo treatment here in the hospital under controlled conditions. They are keeping her sedated to make the intubation more bareable. They won't take out the tube until all swelling is gone. They are preparing us for several more days in ICU, so thank you everyone for the prayers, snacks, and care packages that are being delivered! It helps knowing you are thinking about us! We are holding up pretty well all things considered. The staff in the ICU is amazing and taking good care of us, but it is very tiring. Me, Jim, grandparents, and Matt are taking turns sitting with her. She likes a hand to hold! Then Jim and I are taking turns at night. You sure don't get a lot of sleep in an ICU unit in a hospital. I will send more information tomorrow after the procedure.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

ICU Again!!

We went in Friday for the outpatient procedures to have the port installed and the bone marrow biopsy. We ended up in the ICU again!!! When Emily had her reaction in college hospital during the first biopsy, the Drs. assumed she had a reaction to the anesthesia. So this time, they made sure we had very different type, and took precautions to do the procedure in hospital with people standing by. What they did not realize is she did not react to the anesthesia, but to the deadening agent they use(lydocain), so when they used it again this time, she had a huge negative reaction and went into anaphalactic shock. They had to intubate her, and rushed her to ICU. If they had not taken precautions, things would have been much worse! We have been in ICU since. She is stable, but the swelling of her trachea has not gone down, so she still has in the tube, and they are keeping her sedated. The only problem is they can't seem to keep her sedated enough!! She gets agitated because the tube is SO uncomfortable, and she can't communicate. Things have been pretty stressful, and oh yeah, they were able to do the bone marrow biopsy before she crashed, but not the port. Please keep those prayers coming. We will keep you posted.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

MORE tests...

Thurs. 9-24 Emily did 2 more tests today, the pulmonary test and muga. Blake took her for the pulmonary test this morning. We found out yesterday the muga was a little more involved than we first thought so Jim drove to college town to be there this afternoon. Neither test was painful and brought us one step closer to determing the stage/treatment. Emily and Jim drove home, and Matt and Emily are going to a concert tonight. They are excited about seeing Super Chick and Barlow Girls (Christian rock bands)! Tomorrow wraps up the final test with the bone marrow biopsy and the insertion of the port. We are getting close to starting chemo. Thank you and God bless you for your continued prayers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Getting ready for treatments...

Tues. 9-22 Emily had her CT scan and pet scan today. Wow what a relief. It was a piece of cake according to her. They had told her the pet scan would take 45 minutes of complete stillness... it took 11 minutes. It still took some time because she had to drink the glucose and then wait 45 minutes, but that too was easy. Apparently when you are tiny like Emily, it takes much less time! She had gone prepared to use a relaxant pill and didn't need it. The CT scan was head, neck, and torso, and they shot some dye into her IV to see contrast, and that burned a little, but was very tolerable. Once again, the nurses were wonderful and kind! Thanks for all your prayers, they are certainly working!

Next step is more medical tests in college town on Thurs. so she doesn't have to come home. They are a pulmonary test and muga scan. I agree... what in the world is a muga? Well the pulmonary test is just where she blows into a tube to test her respiratory function, and a muga is basically a scan of her heart. Both are noninvasive. They want to be sure there are no pre-existing conditions, and then have a baseline of current functions to use as reference going through chemo. Then on Friday of this week, she will have the bone marrow biopsy test and port installed, all done at the same time. The port is the devise that is installed under her skin that all blood work and chemo goes through. It will be on the left side of her neck right above her collar bone. Everyone tells us this becomes her new best friend! No more poking needles! Once again, keep the prayers coming, we feel them every moment every day!

Emily's favorite verse: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11).

Monday, September 21, 2009

How it all began!

On Saturday, 8-29-09, Emily called from school and said she found a lump in her neck. I immediately thought," mono", and told her to go to the clinic at school. Of course the clinic wasn't open on Saturday, so on Mon. morning she went in for a checkup. Dr. S told her it looked like thyroid cancer. Needless to say, she had a crying meltdown. At the time, I couldn't believe the Dr. had said the "C" word to a college kid by herself. I thought it was just revenge that he had to deal with her. However he prepared us for what was to come, and did a great job in referring us where we needed to go in a timely manner. So for that ...Thank you Dr. S!

Tues. 9-1-09, Jim and I drove to her college for an appointment with an ENT/head and neck surgeon. Dr. C was great! He told us it had all the symptoms of lymphoma,and he recommended a lymph node biopsy, and asked to do it on Thurs. We were moving fast! It was to be an outpatient surgery, and we started the pre-tests to make it happen: blood work, and neck/chest CT scan. Blake, Emily's boyfriend, was there throughout the process and was a rock! Emily was amazing, strong and probably in shock as we all were!

I stayed in college town, and Jim headed back home. Did I forget to mention that Tues. Matt woke up with a high fever, and went to the Dr. that morning? Sure enough it was swine flu, well only flu type A, because they don't test for swine, but the Dr. reassured us it was indeed swine. Emily went to class on Wed, took a test, and kept busy. I cleaned her apartment, went to the grocery store, and cooked dinner for a bunch of hungry college kids who appreciated a home cooked meal. And we waited. The waiting is tough!

Thurs. 9-3, Jim drove back to college town, and we arrived at the out patient surgery clinic. Emily had great attitude, and people were amazed at how well she was doing. Jim's parents were there to wait with us, and people all over country were praying. That is a good feeling! To make a long story short... an out patient procedure became complicated. Emily had a negative reaction to the anesthesia during surgery and was intubated. Dr. C said it was like she was having an asthma attack. Dr. C removed 4 lymph nodes and then sent us to college town hospital. We were transferred by ambulance, and they put us in ICU. They wanted to make sure she did not have any more reactions while there was still anesthesia in her system. She started feeling better fast, and by dinner time was able to eat Wendy's. By later that night, had a whole room of visitors(Blake,Lauren, Clay, Callie, and Adam). She has a great group of friends at college! Many others had texted her to find out how she was. Went home on Friday morning, and she felt great. We took her home to my parents house while Jim and I disinfected our house from top to bottom to get rid of the piggy virus! Matt was cured by now, thank you Lord! Tamiflu is an amazing thing!
Saturday she felt well enough to go to the big game with friends!

Tues. 9-8, Jim and I drove to college town to meet with Emily and get the diagnosis from the biopsy. It was nodular sclerosing Hodgkin's lymphoma. If you have to get cancer, this is the kind of lymphoma you want. We went home that night and asked a family friend for a referral to an oncologist. He gave us Dr. P's name. We called Wed. morning and got the ball rolling for treatment. After sending all records, we had an appointment on Wed. 9-16. Apparently our prayers were being answered for things to move fast, because we were moving faster than most people in similar situations had told us to expect! We have had people praying for us all over the country, and we have felt God's presence and his hand on us time and time again. In the mean time, Emily kept busy with school and friends to keep her mind off cancer!

Wed. 9-16 We met with Dr. P, the oncologist. The oncologist's office was a little overwhelming. You were faced with the reality of cancer. There were some very ill people, and a few bald heads. But We were very impressed with the cancer group, nurse Rachel, and Dr. P herself. Everyone was incredibly kind and went out of their way to make things easier. Dr. P was very matter-of -fact and very kind! She was highly encouraging about this type of cancer and said repeatedly, "It is very treatable!" She asked Emily what her biggest fear other than that was, and Emily said going to school. The Dr. said, if that is her priority, they would work to make it happen. Dr. P said they would work treatments around Emily's school schedule. I think this was a huge load off of Emily's mind. They then set up a multitude of tests to determine what stage the cancer is in, and prepare for chemo.

Mon. 9-21 We had "chemo class". We were not sure what this would entail, but it was very helpful. They went over the reason chemo works, how it works, and then broke down many of the myths and fears involved with chemo. Emily was by far the youngest person in the room by 30 years, but once again, everyone was very kind and supportive. They talked about specific drugs each person would receive and how to deal with the side effects. It helped to take away a lot of the fear from the unknown. Tomorrow is her CT scan and pet scan. Talk to you tomorrow!