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!

Friday, March 5, 2010

#11 down and 1 to go!

Well, Jim went with Emily for chemo # 11. Everything went well. Her blood count numbers were all good. Dr. L discussed with them that there is only one chemo to go.... BUT...! The But... is never good. Dr. L said she knew she told us radiation would not be needed, But she reviews each patients results carefully at the end of a chemo round to make sure they are on the right path, especially towards the last. Apparently there is a standard that determines if radiation is needed, and for Emily's Hodgkins, it is the size of the original tumors. Emily's tumors were not quite large enough to need radiation, but they were very close. SO, Dr. L said after the last chemo, we would wait 2 weeks, and then do all new testing: PET scan, CT scan, pulmonology test, cardio test, and then relook to see if radiation is needed. She would staff Emily's case with other oncologists, and if there was any indecision at all, Emily would be sent to an oncology/radiation expert and he would make the final decision. She did say there was a good chance she would not need it, but wanted to make us aware that it is still a possibility.

Emily was disappointed. She was really hoping she would be done after the next chemo. But the reason radiation is done is to keep the chances of recurrence, (the cancer coming back) low. The radiation would be five days a week for 6 weeks. That would be tough to do in Tulsa, and finish the semester in school. It might be able to be done in Stillwater, but that is not for sure. We will deal with that when we know for sure. I told Emily, from the very beginning I prayed for the right Dr.s and then have prayed daily for them to have wisdom and for God to guide them in the way they treat her. He has been SO faithful in that. Time and time again, the doctors made decisions that turned out to be exactly the right thing. And that if having radiation means it does not come back, and she won't have to deal with this again later, it will be worth it to take care of it now, all at once. I know this is easy for me to say, but she seems to be OK with it all for the moment. I know I am redundant, but we are so PROUD of her. She really has been an inspiration to me! Thank you for all of your prayers! When we get overwhelmed, someone always sends us an encouraging word, or something pops into our minds, and I know that is all of your prayers lifting us up!

PS: Emily is the "cancer survivor" on a relay for life team. Jim and I are also on her team along with 8 of her friends. We will be participating in the Stillwater Relay for Life on 4-16-10. If anyone is interested in donating a few bucks, please feel free to give me a call. Or you are welcome to go the the following website:
push "donate", and then search for Emily Sellers. You can pay with a credit card and get a tax receipt. It really is pretty easy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Great, Great News!!!

Emily completed chemo #10 yesterday, and got her shot today. I don't know if it is because they took one chemo away or what, but chemo is not making her feel as bad as usual. That is a good thing! Everything looked great yesterday, her blood counts were good, and no problems of any kind. Just 2 more chemos and shots to go!

We had a pulmonologist appointment today, and got more great news. They did 2 chest xrays and as the Dr. said, "they are perfect". He was very impressed, and I got the feeling he was not easily impressed. He said there was absolutely no indications of any damage at all. He said there was some minor scarring, but probably not even from chemo, just from life that we all have. He said repeatedly that he was very impressed that with all she has been through, there is no evidence of any negatives. Once again, thank you all for your prayers, God is an awesome God and is bigger than cancer!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Praises, Praises, Praises!!!

Thanks for all your prayers!! Today Emily completed chemo #9, only 3 more to go. But more exciting even than the count down, is that the pulmonary test came back close to normal, and when I say normal, I mean very close to being as good as before chemo began. This shows there is no serious permanent damage to her lungs! PRAISE GOD! Also, the PET scan shows if there is any activity or blood flow to any of the tumors, and there was NONE, absolutely none! They said all the tumors, masses, and lymph nodes are completely "resolved" which means no longer living tissue! They are considered "healed". The smaller masses are gone completely, and the 2 larger masses are less than an inch big. When Emily was diagnosed they were the size of a man's fist. The Dr. said with the larger masses, they may never completely disappear, but stay as scar tissue, but that is OK. Dr. L was VERY excited, and even the written reports said "excellent" progress repeatedly. They do not think she will need radiation. PRAISE GOD!!!

There is still one issue that is a concern, and that is a very small spot on her lung. They know it is not a tumor, because it did not show up in the PET scan, but it is showing on the CT scan. Because they do not know what it is, they are sending her to a pulmonologist for further diagnosis. That appointment is on Feb. 19th.

She will have 3 more chemo treatments. They plan on doing all 12 treatments because there are studies that show this amount decreases the chances of recurrence. We are all for that! We feel God has been with Emily and our family every step of this journey and will continue to take care of us. But I do not think we could have done it without our friends of faith praying for us so diligently. God Bless each one of you!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Extra Huge Praises!!!

Emily, Jim and I went to the oncologist today to get the results of the CT scan and complete chemo #9. Well, Emily had her blood work done, and her numbers were great, but then we had to wait to see the oncologist. Dr. L had been called to the hospital for an emergency, so we waited over an hour. We got the results of the CT, and they were great! Several small tumors in the lymph nodes were completely "resolved" meaning GONE! Yeah!!! All other tumors were significantly reduced. Reduced to the point where Dr. L said we were way ahead of the plan at this time. Praise God!!! There was a new "ground glass" tiny nodule on the lung. This just means there was a spot they could not identify. The Dr. said it could be nothing or some scarring, so they want an additional CT scan to try to identify what it is, a PET scan which gives more in depth info for all masses, and another pulmonary test.

Last chemo they took her off one medicine that causes lung damage. They would like the tests I mentioned above to determine if she should continue this drug or be taken off of it completely. So Emily did NOT have chemo today. The Dr. wants the results of these tests before they continue. However, she said it was very positive. The fact that the CT scan showed such great results made her comfortable in waiting a week for her next chemo. Emily was OK with this. She was relieved in some ways because she has 3 big tests next week, and will not feel crummy, so she will do better on her tests. We left the oncologist's office and went directly to the Heart hospital where she had the pulmonary test done. The pulmonology tech said her results were much better than her last one. So that is great!

We have prayed for complete healing and have faith that will be the outcome. But we see God's hand every day taking care of Emily and our family in ways that we could not even know to pray for. He knows so much better how to take care of us than we do! We thank all of you from our very souls for your prayers and support.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Chemo # 8 Finished - YEAH!

Emily completed chemo #8 today. It had been postponed until she had pulmonary testing done. We got the results today, and her lung diffusion capabilities were mildly diminished. So they took her off the chemo drug that causes lung damage. She has been getting a cocktail of 4 different drugs, now it will just be three. Her overall lung volume, and capacity were good, but they are being conservative, and we totally agree. We are hoping her lungs improve now that she is off this chemo drug.

The last 2 chemo's made her feel pretty bad, but this one did not. So we are thankful for that. I think she was worn out from finals and school, so Christmas break allowed her to rest and recoup some energy. I also think the added week between chemo's helped. I know I keep saying this, but it is true; God has been faithful to take care of Emily every step of this journey. So when they told us to postpone chemo for a week, I told her I knew there was a reason, and God knew why even if we did not. We are grateful they found the lung issues now, and have taken measures so they don't worsen. She will receive her shot to boost white blood count tomorrow, and then will have a CT scan on this Mon. We hope the tumors are shrinking!

Emily started classes on Mon. of this week. She emailed her professors to let them know of her situation. They were incredibly supportive, and once again, we thank OSU for all their help and support. As she is back in school, we also are more aware of the beginning of cold/flu season. She has to be hyper aware of all those germs out there and try to keep them away. We thank you all for your continued prayers and support as well. Only 4 more chemo's to go! YEAH!

We ask for your prayers:
that her lung damage will reverse now that the chemo is out of her system
that the CT scan will show great improvement
for physical and mental strength for school
and Emily asked me to add to pray that no radiation is needed after chemo

May the Lord bless you and your loved ones!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Waiting game!

Emily was supposed to have chemo #8 today, but it was postponed until next Thurs. (1-14-10).
Her oncologist had ordered a pulmonary test that was supposed to be completed before today's chemo, but due to a lack of communication, we were not notified, and chemo was rescheduled for next week. They want to make sure her lungs are not being adversely affected by the chemo, so until the pulmonary test is completed, we have to wait on chemo. The pulmonary test is scheduled for this Friday, 1-8-10. Emily was very disappointed because this pushes her date when she is finished with chemo back even later. School starts back on Jan. 11th, and then she'll come home on the 13th to have chemo on the 14th. But in the big picture, I guess one more week isn't the end of the world. They have also ordered a full body scan to determine if the tumors are shrinking, and that will be done on Mon. Jan. 18th. So we appreciate prayers that the tumors are disappearing! She is enrolled in 12 hours for next semester, and we take one day at a time. Thank you to all of you who continue to keep us in your prayers and send encouraging words and thoughts.
A great verse someone sent us: "May the God of Hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him, that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13