Tonight (2/16) begins week #5 of 18 weeks of chemo treatments. Here is an update on what has been happening, what will happen the next few weeks, what you can pray for, and some pictures:
What has been happening:
- Emily’s 4th round of chemo began on January 25th, and she was released from the hospital on January 29th. That treatment was a combo of doxorubicin and cisplatin. It is a brutal round and Emily slept for much of the four days (for which we are thankful). She threw up once just before going home (throwing up is one of Emily’s fears). She’s told us she dreaded throwing up more than losing her hair. 🙂
- On January 27th, Sue’s parents came into town and will be here until February 20th. It is a blessing to have them in town to help Sue when I travel and to entertain and care for Emily when she is recovering at home.
- On January 28th (the day before being released) she had to have a blood transfusion because her red blood cell count was too low.
- It took her about a week to recover from chemo after leaving the hospital. It was a long week at home with a lot of throwing up and nausea.She threw up at least once a day until Friday.
- She was scheduled to be home for two weeks and two days before coming back, but several things can change that (which happened). They want her numbers to recover. During the time off, she would go get a blood test a couple of times a week to check her numbers.
- On Friday (February 2), some numbers weren’t encouraging. They were concerned about damage to her kidneys. They gave Emily a choice to either come down to the hospital and get fluids to improve her numbers or she needed to drink 3 liters of water (8/10th of a gallon) for 3 straight days. And when Emily is sick, she doesn’t want to eat or drink anything. But going back to the hospital is worse. So she managed to drink 3 liters of water each day and was feeling better by the end of the three days.
- The next Tuesday (February 6), her platelet numbers were low (platelets help with clotting), so she needed another transfusion.
- On Wednesday (February 7), Sue and Emily met with the surgeon to talk about the coming surgery. It has been tentatively scheduled for March 19th.
- On Tuesday (February 13), Emily had surgery to move her port. Ports are supposed to make life much easier for chemo treatments, but it hasn’t worked that way. The original port was placed too deeply and they struggled with accessing it every time. As parents, it has been very difficult to watch how painful that process has been for Emily each time. We would go to the place in the hospital where accessing ports and doing IVs is all they do, but every time, they struggled and would get others to try. So we were very thankful when they decided to do surgery to move it. That surgery went well, and now they should much more easily access the port for each chemo round.
- On Wednesday (February 14) – yes, Valentine’s Day – she was scheduled to begin week #5 of chemo. She had her labs done and met with the oncologist, and they decided to postpone chemo because Emily has a cold. Her immune system is low, so they postponed chemo for two days.
What is happening now:
- Friends from Rochester came into town for the weekend for a soccer tournament. Derek, Carrie, and Amanda Fordham went to visit Sue and Emily at home this morning (I was at meetings at work). They had brought some Rochester treats for us (Bill Gray’s hot sauce and Wegman’s mini-chocolate chip cookies).
- At the end of the day, Sue and Emily picked me up from work and we drove to the hospital. It is less than 4 miles from my office to the hospital. We checked in at 5:00 PM.
- Emily’s preference is to get the chemo in the middle of the night – so she will more likely sleep through it. So we checked in and the Fordhams came down to the hospital to visit. We asked if Emily could leave for dinner and we were told, “once she checks in, she isn’t technically allowed to leave…” Then the nurse said, “BUT – if you want to tell us you are going for a long walk, we think that is a very good idea.” (As she gave us a big wink)… So once they checked her in to prepare for her fluids, we went to dinner with the Fordhams.
What is coming next:
- Now we are waiting for them to access her port and begin four hours of fluids. Then, in the middle of the night, they will do her chemo treatment. This time it is methotrexate.
- Methotrexate isn’t nearly as difficult as the last round of chemo, but takes a longer hospital stay. She’s done this round 2 times. One time we were here six nights. The second time it was five nights. So we are praying for four or five nights, but know it could be six or seven nights.
- The chemo goes in her for four hours and then it takes days to flush it out of her system.
- By the original schedule, she should do two weeks of this chemo (methotrexate), then have a break, and then go into surgery. However, the oncologist didn’t like that she would have over a three-week break. She said that is too long for no chemo treatments. So Emily will have 3 weeks of methotrexate before surgery.
- Sue’s younger sister is coming for a week on February 20th. We are looking forward to seeing her.
- Surgery is scheduled for March 19th.
What you could pray for:
How can you pray? Here are some long-term and short-term prayers for the next 3 weeks:
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.
- 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. And that the coming surgery would be successful in removing all the cancer.
Our short-term requests include the following:
- Continue to pray that the chemo would be potent in killing cancer and weak in its side effects. Emily would love to not throw up this week. She’s done two of these treatments and thrown up once. We are praying she could avoid that these three weeks of treatments.
- Pray they would successfully access the port on the first attempt. She went through an extra surgery to help this happen. So we are praying it works. (Update: It worked [10:48pm]. It is the first time they’ve accessed it on the first try with no problem. Such a relief.)
- Pray that her cold goes away quickly. It just makes chemo more difficult. She is better than yesterday, but certainly not finished with the cold.
- Next week, for the first time since Emily was diagnosed, I will be traveling for three nights for work. Emily likely will be in the hospital for some of that travel. Pray things go smoothly. We are glad Sue’s sister will be in town next week to help Sue during more difficult days and to help with our dog and some meals.
- Emily has gotten mouth sours because of methotrexate that are all through her mouth and down her esophagus. They have healed up in her time off, but we’d love to see them minimized during this three weeks of methotrexate.
- Emily has also lost 3 layers of skin off the bottom of her feet. It is something they rarely see, but it makes walking painful. They are adding some treatments they hope will help, but they don’t know for sure. Could you pray she doesn’t lose more skin from the bottom of her feet?
- This week, I gave Emily a new framed saying: “I won’t waste my cancer, God is up to something.” Our family read John Piper’s article “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” together when they were home at Christmas. It is an article I’ve passed on to dozens of people over the last ten years. And now I read it much more personally. Pray that Emily won’t waste her cancer and that none of our family would waste what God wants to teach us. If you haven’t read the article, you can download it for free here: https://www.desiringgod.org/books/dont-waste-your-cancer. It is well worth reading.
- A few months ago, I bought tickets for a concert for this coming Friday. It is Mercy Me and 10th Avenue North. We would love to be able to go to the concert and take Emily. They each have songs that have meant a great deal to us the last three months of our lives. If you aren’t familiar with their latest music, it is worth the money to buy them. Pay attention to the following songs:
- “Even If” – by Mercy Me
- “We Win” – by Mercy Me
- “I Have This Hope” – by 10th Avenue North (the best song I could imagine at this point in our lives)
Here are some pics for today
Each round of chemo, I give Emily a framed saying. This is the one for this week.
There is a lot of waiting. As we wait for Emily’s port to be accessed so they can start the fluids, Sue decided to try a stethoscope for the first time.
We are thankful for this place. God could heal Emily miraculously, but typically when He heals cancer, He does so through medicine. We will forever be thankful that God has us in Houston for this stage of our lives.