Cancer at Christmas | Round 9 of Chemotherapy


Our first Christmas together, 2014.

Never in my life did I think I would be writing updates on my husband’s “journey” through cancer. Never in my wildest nightmares did I think I would be pregnant in the midst of it.

Cancer at Christmas brings a new awareness to the season. When you realize that Jesus Christ is what will get you through this time in your life, it makes you EVEN more appreciative of the time you’ve been given and the miracle of his birth.

It also highlights just about every emotion you’ve got, and throw in being in your third trimester and it can be a little interesting! Because James has been severely neutropenic this entire process (low white blood cells), we spend most of our time at home. Since his immune system is so low, we have to take extreme precautions so that he does not get sick. It is very important that treatment does not ever get delayed and that he doesn’t end up with an infection that could land us in the hospital. This means, no contact with people who have been sick or who have been around someone that was sick (HELLO IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME IN TEXAS… EVERYONE HAS ALLERGIES RIGHT NOW), if someone coughs or sneezes we literally have to walk the other direction should we happen to venture out to the store or to a restaurant. There’s lots of hand-washing and praying at our house this week. We would love nothing more than to spend Christmas with our families, but that also means every single person we see is not sick, and hasn’t been around someone that is sick. So prayers are appreciated!! We had a very quiet Thanksgiving at home due to sickness and chemo. Lots of adjustments.

Monday morning we spent the day at the Cancer Center. It’s interesting because you want to be in the Christmas spirit but at the same time you want to try and separate anything having to do with cancer from anything that is Christmas. If that makes sense?

For the first time though, we went ahead and listened to Christmas carols on the way. We knew it was going to be a very long day because Monday was his follow up PET scan from his scan in October and then his 9th round of chemo. Anxiety is definitely at an all time high because you want to hear the words “Cancer Free” or “No Evidence of Disease” or “Remission”. Any of these three are acceptable and they are what we are believing for.

At this time, we are at “better, not gone”. This is still a praise report. The great news is that the lymph nodes that used to have cancer cells in them, NO LONGER SHOW ANY CANCER. We are still believing for this to be the case in the tumor in his chest. We are so stinking close. His tumor has now shrunk from 10cm to 4.3cm. To get really technical, the easiest way to say it is that there was still .100 of cancer cells that lit up in his tumor on the scan. FREAKING FRUSTRATING IF YOU ASK ME. My God, I thought last time we couldn’t get any closer to cancer free, but apparently you can! So we are at 99.9% clean PET scan. STILL GOOD NEWS. Chemo is working.

However, this does mean that James will require radiation.

We knew going into this process that it would be a possibility, and it took extensive tests to determine the staging of the cancer. It was confirmed that James has Stage 2B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “Early Staging” is anything Stage 1 or 2. If you add the “B” to the staging then this puts it under the category of “Advanced Staging”, therefore Stage 2B, 3, or 4 all require a more extensive process of treatment. The “B” stands for Bulky Disease, meaning that the lymphoma is found in a tumor that is the size of 10cm or more. Right at where James’ tumor had begun.

Radiation will begin about a month after his last chemo day. This means he will get a few weeks off (SO WE CAN HAVE A BABY) and then he will begin radiation to zap whatever may be left or hiding in the scar tissue of the tumor. Radiation seems to be a bit less intense than chemo, but runs the risk of longer term side effects (which we are believing he will NOT have). It requires about 15 minutes a day, Monday-Friday, for 3-5 weeks or so. Not ideal when you have a newborn, but we will do whatever it takes to be done with this.

James has now completed 9 rounds of chemo. This means he only has 3 more to go. We actually have all three scheduled now and January 30th will be his LAST DAY OF CHEMO FOREVER IN JESUS NAME AMEN. Boy, was it exciting to put that day in our calendar!

My due date is currently still exactly two weeks from that day, February 13th, so we are believing for perfect timing of our little girl so that James can get the opportunity to build his immune system back and be at the hospital for birth. (I don’t think there is anything in the world though that would keep him from being there, but to know he has a good immune system and strength will be much easier!)

Because of our unique situation, we’ve had to miss a lot of the things that expecting couples get to do together. For example, we weren’t able to attend any birthing classes because it’s just not wise to bring a chemo patient to the hospital and stick him in a room full of people for two days straight. Looks like Youtube may come in handy (LOL). He did however get to go to Buy Buy Baby with me for the first time last weekend and he got to try out the stroller that we picked!! We had a good laugh when we found this sign for an infant. It is perfect for his situation right now!!!!!

Thank you again to everyone who has been praying for us, brought us meals, sent us money, and loved on us during this time. This week has been especially intense and we are excited for better days, better reports, and a lifetime of memories together that are to come.

We are believing for continued strength for James and a wonderful Christmas with family and loved ones. Let me tell you, as someone who used to be all about gifts (It’s my love language – what can I say?!) I sure have learned that the only thing that matters, ever, is your family and loved ones. Enjoy them this Christmas. Love on them. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And if you are having a bad day, you can join us for chemo in a week and I promise that will help you put everything back in perspective. It does for us every time.

Be on the lookout for a BABY UPDATE on the Blog soon with highlights from my AMAZING baby Shower that Hailey and Bobbi threw me. It truly was a DREAM COME TRUE!!!!!

Love you all,
Natalie

 

Isaiah 9:6 – For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

 

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