A lot has happened today, so below is an update for each important item.
A Public Apology to Dan Evans
Dear Mr. Evans. I would like to apologize about my Path Results of Assurance comment. My path results were indeed back on Friday so I did not have to wait until Monday to get them. Granted, it still sounds like bone marrow aspirations done on Fridays may not get resulted until Monday, so perhaps path results of assurance still isn’t a bad idea. I just can’t imagine waiting a weekend for results, just because someone isn’t working.
Your Look of Assurance Compliant Employee,
Your Prayers are Effective and Encouraging
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us, and adding our names to prayer chains. This morning we got a bit of good news that my platelets had not decreased and had risen ever so slightly. They had been on a downward trend, like my other blood counts, so seeing them level off and rise a bit was very inspirational. It’s one small thing, but hey, it’s the small things that count.
And the Results are in…kinda
This morning at about 8a I met with my new hematologist, Dr. Jose Azar. I really like him! He had the results of my bone marrow aspiration, but Lindsey wasn’t here yet so we decided to wait to discuss them. Lindsey got here a little after 9, and Dr. Azar was rounding on other patients. Unfortunately we weren’t able to see Dr. Azar until later, so the waiting game began.
MOOOOOOMMM, Michelle Won’t Play With Me
My sister came to see me today. While we are 3 hours away from each other, adulthood has brought on a very special bond between us. We’ve been there for eachother in ups and downs, and she is most certainly here for me now. When we were younger I always wanted to play games with my sister. It was a momentous (and in her teen years, somewhat rare) occasion when she agreed to play a game (just ask her about the Michelle Wyda basketball incident of ’87). But today when she came in the room, she had one of our favorite games from when we were kids and SHE was asking to play with ME. We used to play Mankala for hours non stop and I’m really looking forward to playing it with her again.
A Bonus Childhood Story…
Growing up my sister and I got along most of the time, and then other times we didn’t. For instance, when I was very young we had a cactus downstairs. I was very curious to know how it felt to put your hand on a cactus. Since I had had a bad experience earlier with the stove burner and finding out what the color red feels like (FYI, it hurts like a son of a gun), I was a bit more cautious in my approach to the green cactus. So in true brotherly form, I grabbed my sister’s hand, stated my hypothesis “sissy, will this hurt?” and promptly stuck her hand on the cactus. Her reaction was very conclusive, and I knew that sticking your hand on a green cactus felt a lot like touching a red stove burner. Thankfully my dad was there to pick the cactus needles out of Michelle’s hand.
And the results are in…Really
Around 3pm this afternoon, Dr. Azar was able to come in and spend 30-45 minutes going over my diagnosis with us. As we suspected, I do in fact have Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). My road to recovery is a bit longer than I thought, but still very achievable. There are 3 main phases of my recovery.
Induction: During the induction phase, we are trying to force the leukemia into remission. I will receive chemo twice a day for four days. After that, I will stay in the hospital for 2-3 weeks while I recover from the chemo side effects and while my immune system recovers. We will also learn if I have a marker for the Philadelphia chromosome. If I do, my prognosis isn’t as good and my treatment plan will change so please pray that I do not have this marker. Induction will be deemed successful if I do not have any signs of leukemia in a repeat bone marrow aspiration. Approximately 90% of patients are successful with this phase.
Consolidation: If induction is successful I move on to consolidation. While coach Pagano had 3 rounds of chemo, my leukemia is a bit different so my treatment plan is different as well. Consolidation consists of monthly chemo for 7 months. I will be in the hospital for approximately 4 days each month and then recover at home. Consolidation ensures that any remaining leukemia cells are eliminated. Without consolidation, it is more likely that the leukemia would return.
Maintenance: Maintenance helps keep the leukemia at bay over the next 2 years. The maintenance phase consists of 2 years of chemo pills, with hopefully low side effects.
After the maintenance phase is complete, I will continue to receive checkups. If after 5 years I have not had a relapse, then for all intents and purposes my leukemia is considered cured. Dr. Azar believes I have a 60%-70% chance of being cured, although that percentage would go down if I have the Philadelphia Chromosome.
So there you have it. Please mark your calendars for December 8th, 2017. We’re gonna be having one heck of a party to celebrate my Cure Day.
Here We Go Chemo, Here We Go (clap clap clap)
With the plan in place, my treatment has already started. I just finished my first bag of the Hyper-CVAD protocol and the first chemo drug, cytoxan. I receive a does every day at 6a and 6p. It was all a little less dramatic than I pictured it. I am able to receive chemo in my room, so basically the nurse came in, validated my identity, hung the bag of chemo, and started the infusion. I can continue all normal activities while the chemo infuses. My expected side effects are vomiting/nausea, mouth sores, fever, infection, and swelling among other things. I’m praying that the side effects won’t be too strong, but really even if they are bad it is only a temporary part of this journey. I’m very glad to be fighting the cancer now instead of waiting for the diagnosis. Now it’s time to kick A-L-L’s A-S-S.
I Have the Easy Part
I’m supposed to drink lots and lots of water, so I drink lots and lots of water. This of course leads to frequent trips to the bathroom where I get a moment to reflect. Today I thought about how I have the easy part in all of this. Sure I’ll be sick for a bit, but in reality I have clinicians taking care of my 24/7 to help me out in everything I do. My family on the other hand is currently making sacrifices to help me out. I have a wife who’s dream was to have kids and be a mom and now that we have 3 at home, she is sacrificing time with our kids to be with me at the hospital. I have 2 daughters who don’t know why their da-da isn’t there to toss them into the air, act silly, and read them bible stories at night. I have a little boy who’s daddy isn’t able to blow on his tummy or tickle his nose. I have parents who ended their winter in Florida to be with me. I have parents who will travel from Tennessee to be with me. I have in-laws who left their home at the drop of a hat to be in Indianapolis and help us out. I have friends who are taking time to pray for us, brings us meals, and help us with other items. There’s a lot of work going on out their to help me out and I am very humbled by it. Thank you very much for being by my side during this time.
A Duck Dynasty Prayer
I’ve never seen Duck Dynasty, but I’ve heard people talk about it. It just happened to be on last night and tonight, and with nothing else to watch I started watching it. Besides the redneck entertainment value, I noticed at the end of each episode they pray around the dinner table. I’ve decided to end each day’s update with a prayer as well.
Father, thank you for a good day. Thank you for a definitive diagnosis, and a definitive plan. Thank you for friends, family, and acquaintances. Thank you for all the prayers, love, and support. You have already overcome this world Jesus, and victory is certain. Use this cancer for your purpose, and allow me to be your humble vessel. You are the potter, I am the clay. Mold me into a new man. A better husband, a better father, a better friend, a better man, and a man who is cancer free. Thank you for another day. Amen.