Two months ago I sat in the waiting room of the cancer center while James got his PET scan, just beginning my second trimester and nauseous for more reasons than one. We had just learned of James’ diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, after hearing that he was “cancer free” from three different doctors & specialists and had no idea of the road that was ahead. Yesterday, I sat in the same waiting room as he went for his two month follow up PET scan to see if he was responding to the ABVD chemotherapy.
To make it very simple, James had a 10cm X 7cm tumor in his chest wall, and multiple clusters of enlarged lymph nodes that all had cancer (as you can see on the left they light up on the screen (just above his heart, which is also bright because it is an active organ). This meant he was a Stage 2 (probably “Bulky” disease as well because the tumor was over 10 cm). We were very happy to learn that it was only at Stage 2, but still devastating.
When we first got our game plan for his treatment and learned that in two months we’d be doing this follow up to see if he was responding I was so excited. I like to see progress. I like to see charts and comparisons. It also made me extremely nervous that we wouldn’t even know if the chemo was working for two months (aka FOUR ROUNDS OF CHEMO).
Yesterday was a VERY long day, you wait about two hours for the PET scan, then get blood work, meet with the oncologist, oh and then you get to start your three hour long chemo treatment!
Needless to say, when Dr. V walked into our infusion room we were so ready. It went a little something like this:
Her first words were “Well, it looks like I am your new best friend according to this PET Scan!” and I thought to myself, alright – good news. Sigh of relief.
She then went on to tell us that the PET scan results showed that James was 95% cancer free. Shoot. Only 95%? Ok lady, tell us more.
The mass had shrunk by MORE THAN HALF and was now at 5cm X 2cm and was mostly scar tissue with just the slightest bit of cancer cells left. OK THAT IS AWESOME (and why he no longer coughs!!).
His lymph nodes were back to a completely normal size and showed NO SIGNS OF CANCER. Good. No Cancer. I hope she’s right. What if it comes back? NO, pay attention Natalie.
She then opened up the side by side PET scans from the initial August vs. October (see above). Oh my goodness look at this. The only thing I can visibly see lit up on the new scan is his heart. Praise you Jesus.
Dr. V went on to say that if it were her, she would say that he is in FULL REMISSION. Ugh. But do you remember we’ve been told he doesn’t have cancer three other times? But at least this time we have a scan to prove it. OK. Much better.
However, on paper it looks more like 95% remission. Okay, so we are 95-100% in the clear. It’s working. Wait, this means the chemotherapy is working. He doesn’t have to go to a different kind of chemo, the cancer is leaving. Ensue uncontrollable tears.
So all that to say, though we didn’t get it on paper yet that he is in full remission, we are SO CLOSE. He will have a follow up PET scan in another month or two and by then we should have proof that the cancer is GONE. If you ask me though, I will begin thinking and treating him as if it is GONE!
What is even more crazy, is that out of the six months of chemotherapy he will be doing, only two of those months he will have actually had cancer, the other four will be them making sure it never comes back (in Jesus Name Amen.) This report also means that we get to keep doing exactly what we’ve been doing. Yesterday was Round 5 of chemo, so we have exactly 7 more rounds to go. Radiation is still up in the air because the mass (now scar tissue) is located so close to his heart and could have negative coronary side effects. Please be praying for wisdom for our doctors to know what to do when that time comes.
James is doing very well and is extremely pleased with our report yesterday. THIS IS GOOD NEWS. He’s always smiling. Even on long (super nauseous) days of chemo. He is my hero.
His white blood cell count went back down again, so he will be indoors for the next little bit, but the Doctor is hopeful that since he’s done so well without infection this far that it will continue. Be praying for his protection as we go into the fall and winter months!
I am very thankful for this report. I had to really fight some thoughts in my mind, but to know that this is working and that he is going to be healed is what I stand on. In no time at all we will be on the other side of all of this and welcoming baby Sarah into this world!!!
Three more months of this mess and we can kiss chemotherapy, neutropenia, fatigue, nausea, and so much more good bye and say hello to the greatest journey of our lives…. raising our child!!!!!!
Thanks for your prayers, donations, meals, and love. We absolutely couldn’t go through this without you.
PS. I could stare at the side by side PET scans all day. Such an amazing visual reminder of what we already know and are believing God for.
Isaiah 53:5 – But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.