Here is the big news of the week, and frankly, the best medical news of this journey so far: the pathology report says the cancer they removed from Emily was greater than 98% dead.
As a review, the goal was 90%. If it was 90% or above, her long-term survival rate, medically, is 70%. If less than 90% of the cancer cells are dead, the survival rate is significantly less than 70%. So we’ve been praying for above 90%. The Lord has given us an answer that thrills us – greater than 98% of the cancer cells were dead.
One of the early mysteries in this cancer journey to me was why they wouldn’t remove the cancer immediately upon discovery. Couldn’t it grow more? Couldn’t it spread? They said it was high-grade sarcoma, which has a tendency to do both (grow and spread quickly). The reason is this: they need to see the impact of the chosen chemo treatments on the cancer – otherwise the chemo treatments are guesses if they are working or not. And if cancer has spread to other places that we can’t yet see, they want to know the chemo is effective in killing it.
So they did six weeks of chemo then removed the cancer to see if the current chemo regimen was being successful. If not – they would adjust the plan and try other meds. So Emily’s results were the best case scenario. The oncologist was very happy, and we are beyond thrilled.
- The other surprising news in Tuesday’s meeting with the oncologist was the next round of chemo starts today (Wednesday). In fact, if a bed had been available yesterday, they would have admitted her immediately. Sadly, often in the pediatric cancer center at MD Anderson, there are no available beds. It is a place of great fear, pain, and anxiety but also of hope – which is why so many come here. I really don’t know how people do it without the hope of Christ. The hope of MD Anderson is great. They are amazing, but it wouldn’t be enough for me.
- This is week 7 of 18 weeks of chemo. Of the 18 weeks of chemo, four of them are worse than the others. It is a combo drug of doxorubicin and cisplatin. Emily has faced two of them already and has two more to go. One of those starts today.
- Here are some of the common side effects of doxorubicin and cisplatin (there are many others that happen less than 20% of the time – the following are just the more commons ones):
- Nausea, vomiting – yep, we’ve seen a lot of that
- Infection, especially when white blood cell count is low – yep, this too
- Anemia which may cause tiredness, or may require blood transfusions – yes, we’ve had a few blood transfusions.
- Bruising, bleeding – not sure if we’ve seen this other than the bruising in her leg after surgery, but that’s to be expected.
- Kidney damage which may cause swelling and may require dialysis – Emily has been spared of this. Thank the Lord.
- Hearing loss including ringing in ears – No detectable hearing loss yet. They test her every couple of months.
- Hair loss – Emily’s hair has actually started to grow back in the time she’s been away from chemo (four or five weeks now). That will end this week. But she was glad to know her hair will grow back.
- Red-colored urine, saliva, or sweat – yep, it’s true
- Two nights in a row, she will receive the drugs (Wednesday & Thursday). Then they will run fluids through her for 48 more hours and then let her go home. So we anticipate being discharged on Sunday.
What you could pray for:
So many of you have been praying. Thank you. Most importantly, can you thank the Lord with us for the results of the pathology report?
Here are some long-term and short-term requests for this week:
Our long-term requests are the same:
- That God would be glorified in and through Emily and her Osteosarcoma, and that we all would submit to His glory being our priority – whether in life or death and whether the news is good or bad.
- That Emily and our entire family would grow through this (we believe God is always out for our good – which ultimately is to become more like Jesus).
- That God would heal Emily and she would live a full, long life serving and pleasing Him.
- That Emily (and all of us) would have peace and joy. This did not take God by surprise and He is for us.
- That we would be sensitive to how God wants to use this in all of our lives.
- That the cancer has not spread at all.
Our short-term requests include the following:
- Pray for Emily as she heads back into chemo. Her prayer request is that she wouldn’t throw up. She has done that a lot, but still hates it. She hates feeling nauseous but hates throwing up even more.
- Pray for Emily as she must continue with physical therapy this week. One of the things we were told a few weeks ago is that chemo is hard (we know that now), and rehab after surgery is hard (we know that too), but both of them at the same time feels impossible. So Emily is about to experience that. The physical therapists have said they will be up to see her and force her to put in some therapy. So pray for strength for Emily.
- Pray that Emily has the energy, strength and calm stomach to serve others in the hospital. It is what she longs to do but knows in the middle of feeling sick, it will be difficult. She wants to talk to children in the Pediatric Center to encourage them and help them know what is coming.
- Pray for Sue as she will be taking a weekend away. She doesn’t think she needs a break from 24/7 care of Emily, but we thought now is a good time for her to visit Morgan at college for a weekend. I know Sue is looking forward to being with Morgan at Liberty, but I also know it will be hard for her to fly out of Houston and leave Emily and me at the hospital (I know that from experience). So pray she has peace, can relax, and enjoy some time with Morgan.
I was flying into LAX on Monday and had several minutes of awe at God’s creation as I looked out the window. I took this picture as we were descending into LA, and I was reminded that the God who created nature also made my little girl, and I’m so thankful none of this takes Him by surprise and that he loves her more than I ever could.
Thanks for your prayers, friendship, and interest in Emily’s story.