It's been a while since you're heard from me. I'm in the hospital pondering what I've been through since my last blog and it's quite a lot. Rounds 5 and 6 of chemo are now history and this marks the conclusion of the first phase of my journey. Round 5 was really difficult and took the entire 3 weeks between rounds to recover. I'm going home in a few hours from round 6 and we'll see how this recovery goes. The good news is that I'll have 6-8 weeks to recover before the next phase of my treatment begins. This next phase will include a 7th and final round of chemo [called a consolidation round] and then the stem cell transplant procedure.
It's pretty surreal to consider how much has happened in such a short amount of time. Looking back, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor on September 11th, had brain surgery on September 15th followed by the CNS Lymphoma diagnosis on September 21st.
Things continued to move quickly when I moved my treatment over to UT Southwestern University Hospital. All 6 rounds of chemo were administered at UTSW. I can't say enough good things about my doctors and the team assigned to my case. They've laughed with me, they're cried with me and they've even held the nausea bag for me. They've all been selfless care givers and, for that, I'll always be grateful. In fact, today I got the "ring the bell" for having completed rounds 1 through 6. I've been looking forward to this since October - the link is below!
You could say that I've completed one chapter in the journey and a new one is about to begin. Here's what will be happening over the next 3-4 months:
* as I said, I now have 6-8 weeks to recover at home;
* next will be the all important scans that will confirm that I'm in remission. This will occur four weeks from yesterday and I'm believing that those scans will come back CLEAR!
* this being the case, I'll then be turned over to the "transplant team" for scheduling and administering the stem cell transplant procedure. I'll be using my own cells and this is called an "autologous transplant". I'm told this procedure should go a lot easier since I'm using my own cells vs. donor cells;
* including the 7th round of chemo, I'll be in the hospital for 21 consecutive days. Upon my return home, I'll still be housebound for 6 months since my immune system will have to be rebuilt from ground zero. This includes all new immunizations etc.
Greg & I thought that after the stem cell procedure I'd be "home free" and could begin reassuming a "normal life" - the return to normalcy will come but not until later in the year. Many of you has asked "how you can help?" First, thanks for asking and second it really doesn't take much. Sharing in my journey by reading the blog is one way. Standing in agreement with me for a cancer free scan result is another. Knowing that I'm not alone is a tremendous comfort and encouragement.
Speaking of not being alone, I wanted to include the famous poem "Footprints in the Sand" because this has been my life experience. Without the Lord's faithfulness, I wouldn't have made it this far - let alone to the end of the ordeal.
One night I dreamed a dream. As I was walking along the beach with my Lord. Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, One belonging to me and one to my Lord.
After the last scene of my life flashed before me, I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at many times along the path of my life, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints.
This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it. "Lord, you said once I decided to follow you, You'd walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life, there was only one set of footprints. I don't understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me."
He whispered, "My precious child, I love you and will never leave you Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you."