Friday, October 30, 2009

Chemo #3...

Emily completed chemo #3. Many people have asked where and how she receives chemo. She goes to her Dr.'s office, and sits in a big room with lots of other people. It takes about 5 hours from start to finish. First they do blood work, then you see the Dr. ,then finally you get the chemo which takes about 4 hours. She receives 4 different drugs each time. They are administered through her port (the white bandage is covering it in the picture) from an IV drip. She goes prepared with her laptop, movies, homework, and lots of snacks. It is not painful in any way. She has not had any negative post chemo reactions. She does take strong anti nausea drugs for 48 hours after chemo which makes her tired, but she can still function. Thurs. after her chemo, she went back to school on BOB later that evening.
She had low white blood counts on Thurs. That is a normal effect of chemo to an extent, but hers was very low. So she received a shot to help her body make white blood cells. Very low white blood counts mean your immune system is even more compromised. So please pray her white blood cell count will improve. She is supposed to get an H1N1 vaccine on Mon., so also pray that does happen. (the health department is not my favorite organization at the moment).
We continue to see God's faithfulness in taking care of her, and appreciate your continued prayers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sharing some pictures...

Emily is home tonight in order to receive chemo #3 tomorrow. She is doing great at school, and is almost caught up. Now that we are somewhat back to normal, we thought we would share some pictures. We have so many people from all over the country following Emily's blog that have never met her. So we will help you put a face to her name. This is our family on a cruise from last summer. When Emily was diagnosed with Hodgkins, we agreed we would face each step as a family.

Now that the memory of ICU is fading, we are ready to share some sweet & funny stories. In a blink of an eye, we went in for an out-patient procedure, and ended up in ICU for 10 days. We were in survival mode at first, but met a lot of great people and have new appreciation for the medical community and people facing medical challenges. We met our neighbor in ICU. She was there due to complications during heart surgery. Her husband was so sweet, and asked about "that baby girl" every day. We rejoiced when our neighbor got to move "closer to the front door", that was everyone's goal in ICU. We had almost 70 visitors when in ICU. Many were pastors from churches all over the city. The nurses were amazed because we had such incredible support. They were also amazed at Emily's strength. They had to use enough sedation that they would normally use for a man twice her size. I guess she didn't want to miss a thing! Also, after a few days in ICU, she was using a white board to communicate and was on her computer while still heavily sedated. No one could believe she could do that. It did not surprise us at all!

Below is a picture of her catheter bag. She received her 1st chemo in the hospital. One of her chemo drugs is bright red. It made her urine bright orange. When we told her about it, she asked us to take a picture of it. We couldn't understand why, but it was hard to refuse her anything. She then had us show it to her boyfriend Blake. She wrote," I guess I am a true poke, I pee orange!" She also showed it to all her college friends.

It is hard to look at the picture in ICU, but look at her strength! This is when she shaved her head. I was so worried that it would devastate her, but I forgot how strong she is! I have not always appreciated her strong will and attitude, but I do now!

Bald is Beautiful! She often goes bald at home, because as cute as her wigs are, they bug her after a while. She also wears beanies and hats.

This is a picture with one of her wigs at her brother's cross country meet. A woman who did not know she had cancer, told her she had beautiful hair! She just said,"thanks". She has 4 wigs in all. She decided since everyone knows she is bald, she might as well enjoy a variety of looks. She went to a banquet at college, and called me so excited. It took her 20 minutes to get ready including a shower! All she had to do was dress, put on make up and put on her hair! No more hairdryers, and straighteners! She is a half full kind of girl! Below is another look, and just as cute! She has made a decision to live life while battling cancer! She is not letting it stop her from pursuing her life and dreams!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bald and Beautiful!!!!

We had an appointment for this weekend for Emily to come home and have her head shaved. She called Tues. night and said her hair was falling out fast and furious, and didn't think she could wait. So our dear friend Sarah arranged for her to come to her house on Wed. night. Emily rode BOB (big orange bus) into town Wed. evening, and once again the whole family was there to support her! We all trouped to Sarah's house, and made an event of it.

Sarah was great! She cut her shoulder length hair short first, and then really short( we had a glimpse of what she will look like when it starts growing back, and she is adorable!) It helps to be 20 and beautiful to begin with! Then Sarah gave her a mohawk! We have a picture with it and Emily's huge grin! Emily is our hero! She has faced each new challenge with courage, humor and an incredible spirit! Now she is bald and beautiful. There were no tears or depression. We all feel like this is one more step to getting healthy. She wore a wig home, and I picked up 2 more wigs today thanks to Bobbie!(another friend who has helped us more than we can say!).

Emily went back to school on BOB this morning, and called me this afternoon to report her first day with a wig was successful. She says it feels weird both physically and emotionally to have no hair, but she thinks it will not be nearly as bad as she expected. Those who have already gone through similar experiences have shared pearls of wisdom (Cole, Jill, Cindy, Nancy,Barbara), and are helping us get through it. Once again, I really feel without your thoughts and prayers, Emily would not have had the strength to face this with such dignity and grace. So we thank you and God bless!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Back to normal... somewhat!

Emily is back at school and said her first day went well. We took her yesterday, and helped her move in her fall clothes, and take home her summer clothes. The season had changed since she had been there last! She came home on Friday, Sept. 25 for her port, and then life happened! It's hard to believe it has been a full three weeks of craziness since she was at school last.
Her teachers have been very supportive and are working with her to help get her caught up. She has gained almost all her weight back,(she didn't have a lot to spare in the first place!), and has gained her strength back as well. She says she is a little tired, but not too bad. Her next milestone will be losing her hair. We were told it would be gone by now,(about 2 1/2 weeks after her first chemo). I guess because she has so much to begin with, she is keeping hers a little longer. Other people who have been through this say losing your hair is a tough reminder of the reality of cancer. Just pray she can get through this emotional hurdle with the same strength and great attitude she has faced her previous hurdles!
My biggest concern right now is the H1N1 virus. We were hoping they would have vaccines available by the time she went back to school, but that didn't happen. Her doctor was not as concerned as her mother! They have told her to wash her hands often, and wear a mask if she is near anyone who appears sick. Otherwise, she can resume life as normal. Pray that those germs will stay away from her! Speaking of prayers, Thanks again for yours! I completely believe she would not be doing as well today, if it weren't for your prayers! She is a walking miracle! God bless you all. Her next chemo is Thurs. 10-29. She'll come home for that, and then head back to school after the weekend. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chemo # 2 complete!

Ok, this day of chemo was a piece of cake! There's nothing like two weeks in ICU to put things into perspective! Emily sat in a big comfy recliner with a blanket (it's like the arctic in there), and used her infamous port for the first time. People told us she would love the port, and sure enough, no more stabs from needles in her tiny little veins from now on! We watched The Proposal (very funny movie), and her sweet dad brought us lunch from Camilles, and we passed the time very pleasantly. No nausea, or weird feelings or tastes, (yet anyway). We got to the Dr.'s at 8:30 am and left by 2 pm. They had to do blood work, visit with Dr., and then do another trial test of the chemo drugs. Because her first time for chemo was in ICU, they wanted to make sure no adverse affects, and there were none! Next time, in 2 weeks, it should take about 1 hour less. She has also been cleared as healthy (other than the lymphoma of course), and can resume normal schedule and activities, and that includes back to school! She is very excited, and is looking forward to going to college town tomorrow for some homecoming activities, and then back for good on Sun. There are not words to express our thanks for all of your thoughts, support and prayers during this time. We now have 2 treatments under our belt, and will continue to take one day at a time. God has been gracious and comforting in the last month. We know he will be there for us each and every day in the future! God bless and I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roid Rage!!!

Emily is doing great, well except for a weird rash spreading over her body! The poor girl can't catch a break. We spent most of the day at the allergist office today, and were finally told she has roid rage. Not really, just a reaction like acne from the super duper steroids. So tomorrow we go to another appointment at the dermatologist. But she got weighed today, and is gaining back all the weight she lost in ICU. So that is good news. She actually feels pretty much back to normal except for just getting tired a little more easily. Once again, it's nice to be 20! She is getting out, shopping, and visiting with friends. By the way, her friends have been AWESOME through this ordeal!!! Our next big milestone is chemo #2 on Thurs. We are expecting it to go well, but keep those prayers coming!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Home sweet home!!

Emily has been home for two days now, and getting stronger each day! Last night was the first night we all slept through the night! Felt great! The first night home she was pretty uncomfortable, but thank heavens for all night pharmacies. Now she is just eating, sleeping and enjoying being home. Her next chemo is Thurs. 10-15, and she will have it outpatient. So right now the plan is for her to stay through Mon. the 19th, then head back to school. Thanks for all your support, love, and prayers!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going home!!!

We are planning to leave the hospital around 5 pm tonight! YEAH!!! Emily had a little bit of a sore throat on Monday evening and Tues. morning. But the Dr.s don't think there was any damage done to her throat putting the tube in or getting it out. That is good news. Her voice was pretty weak yesterday. When she put in her order for food on the hospital phone, the lady very sweetly asked,"how old are you honey, is it OK for you to order your own food?" Emily thought that was hilarious. Her voice is back to full strength, and it is a very good sound. The other great thing is she is eating a LOT! She has felt a little weak, but it is all relative. The physical therapist who walked her today was amazed, and said it sure helps to be 20, young and strong! She said most of her patients would have taken a couple of weeks to regain strength after being in ICU for so long, not a couple of days! We are headed to our house for a week, so she can get stronger, and get one more chemo treatment before heading back to school. We are in the process of talking to her school and figuring out if we can salvage the semester. Once again, I can't say it enough Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for all your love, support and prayers. Talk to you later

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A great day!

Emily and I are sitting in her new hospital room, no more ICU, and watching TV. She just finished a big breakfast of pancakes and is TALKING to me. No more white board. All major tubes and wires are missing from her body, she looks great! They are making sure everything is working as it should after 10 days of major sedation and no real food in ICU. She feels a little weak, but otherwise great! This is the time after chemo, about 6-7 days when she is at risk for infection, so they don't want to keep in the hospital any longer than necessary. We think we will be home soon. Our whole family wants to thank you all for your prayers, support and visits. We know we could not have done this without you! God bless!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Great news!

Today around 1:00 Emily got her tube out! YEAH!!! She had a multitude of people standing by just in case, but once again, God was with us, and it went without complications! She couldn't talk for an hour, so she continued to write on her white board. She has had cold liquids and is getting ready for ice cream! She will be transferred to the 7th floor, oncology. They will keep her for a few days to make sure her plumbing works and she gets her strength back. She is just SO happy to have that tube out! Thanks for all your prayers, and all those who visited! Emily is so strong and we are so proud of her. We'll keep you posted!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Better each day!!!

The last 2 days have been good! Each day, Emily seems more like her usual self, except for the tube down her throat. She can write on the white board faster than anyone I've ever seen! She has had visitors, and that makes her day happy! I think she is happy to see anyone besides mom and dad! Today she sat in a chair, and looked great! The Dr.s are saying they will look down her throat with a scope on Mon. or Tues. and evaluate where we stand on taking it out. So please pray we can get it out soon. She is losing weight without real food, and we want her to gain a little weight before her next chemo treatment in 1 1/2 weeks. Overall we are very positive with her continued improvements, and appreciate your prayers and encouraging words.
Several people have asked how to comment on the blog, and we have been told to click on comments, then go to the white box "Post a comment" and write your message, then click on the drop down "comment as " and pick "anonymous", then click on "post comment". This should allow you to leave a message, just remember to sign your name on the message so we will know who you are. Hope this helps. God bless you all for keeping us in your prayers!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A moment of peace...

I'm sitting in a quiet hospital room watching Project Runway with Emily. Ok, maybe not quiet, but quiet for an ICU unit. It is a day of praise! Emily completed her first treatment of chemo yesterday, and is now doing great! The dr. was just here, and said she is completely stable, except for being intubated. She is just on enough sedation to tolerate the tube, and had several visitors, and enjoyed interacting with them. She communicates through a white board, and can carry on a conversation while writing fast! She seems SO much better. There is still no evidence the tumor is shrinking, so PLEASE pray for a miracle. We are doing well as a family thanks to our dear, dear friends and family. We have pastors from churches all over town stopping in to say she is on their prayer list. We are receiving cards from all over the country thanks to all of you passing on the prayer request. Our God is an awesome God and may God Bless you all for your help in getting us through this tough time.
PS. The nurse just posted a note on our door explaining post-chemo requests:
If you are sick, please don't visit, please wash your hands when you enter/exit the room, no flowers or open food in her room