What’s Next For Emily? (Emily Whiting Update #30: 9/24/18)

Proverbs 31:25 – She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. (NLT)

What Has Happened Since Our Last Update:

  • Of course, the biggest news is Emily has finished chemo! It was another four-night chemo, but she cleared faster than ever. By 2:30 AM, she was cleared!
  • There is a tradition of ringing a bell when you finish your treatment. You can see Emily’s bell-ringing here if you want to see it HERE: https://www.facebook.com/david.whiting.710/videos/10155963717453379/
  • Today (9/24) – I had to fly to Charlotte, but Sue and Emily were at the hospital all day. Here is what today was filled with:
    • Labs – to check her blood – RESULTS: all looked good. No transfusion needed.
    • Chest CT – to look for any growth in her lungs (that is where cancer typically spreads to with osteosarcoma). RESULTS: all looked good. There are still constant spots they have been watching from the beginning that have been stable for every scan. We will talk to the oncologist about those on tomorrow.
    • Surgery consultation – to take out her port. Her oncologist wanted to leave the port in for six months to a year, in case cancer comes back or there are complications. Emily was able to talk the oncologist into taking out the port now – knowing they may have to put it back in if cancer returns. Emily said she isn’t counting on that – so she wants it gone. Plus, if she had the port in her chest, she would have to return to the hospital every month to get her port flushed out until it was removed. RESULTS: They agree to do the surgery on October 2 to remove the port.
    • Rehab – to continue improving her walking. RESULTS: She will have one more appointment this week and then move toward once a week rehab!!

What’s Next:

  • Tomorrow (9/25) she goes back for more
    • 8:00 AM – Injection for the bone scan
    • 10:30 AM – Bone scan – this is a full body scan to look for cancer. They want to see if the osteosarcoma has spread to any other bones.
    • 12:00 PM – Echocardiogram – this is to see if chemo has caused any problems to her heart
    • 1:30 PM – Electrocardiogram – this is also to see if chemo has caused any problems to her heart
    • 2:30 PM – Appointment with oncologist – follow up from all the tests and talk about next steps
    • 3:30 PM – Audiology test – this is to test her hearing – which can be damaged from chemo
  • Thursday (9/27) she goes back to the hospital again
    • 9:30 AM – test – If we understand this right, this is to test her cognitive skills. We aren’t quite sure what this is, but there is an after effect of chemo that is nick-named “Chemo brain” – where your brain functions slow down a bit. It is temporary, but they will test Emily to see what help she might need during the coming semester.
    • 10:30 AM – rehab – to further improve her walking
  • Tuesday (10/2) – Surgery to remove her port
  • Long-term: Emily will have bone scans for a year or two (every six months) to be sure osteosarcoma hasn’t spread.
  • Long-term: Emily will have chest CT scans on this schedule:
    • Every three months for year 1 and 2
    • Every four months for year 3
    • Every six motnhs for year 4 and 5
    • There will be a plan created at the end of year five (likely a scan every year, for life).

What you could pray for:

Our recent praises:

  • We thank the Lord that Emily cleared chemo as fast as she ever has! The only other time she cleared this quickly, she required a blood transfusion – which added an extra six hours (or so) to her getting discharged. It was an amazing blessing from God.
  • Another blessing of that quick clearing of chemo was that Sue’s sister and brother-in-law (Nick & Heidi) were in town and had to leave for the airport on Saturday by 2:00 PM to catch a flight. So we prayed and asked God to allow them to be a part of the bell-ringing. By faith, we set the bell-ringing for 1:00 PM – which would require Emily be discharged faster than she ever has in 10 months of chemo. And sure enough, God did it. She cleared faster than ever! We are overwhelmed at His grace to us.
  • We are so thankful for some friends who were able to be there for the bell-ringing. They have been very supportive through this – especially on the days I was away traveling.
  • We are so thankful that there were no major concerns on today’s lung CT! There were two spots they’ve been watching since day 1, but nothing has grown. So that is good.

Our long-term requests:

  • 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.
  • That the God of hope would fill Emily with joy and peace as she trusts in Him so she will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
  • That we will trust in God as we go through these 3-month scans. We’ve read a lot about the anxiety that comes as we get closer to each scan. Osteosarcoma tends to come back within the first two years. So those will be crucial tests of the next two years. Our primary prayer is to trust God. Our secondary prayer is that they scans would be clear each time.

Our short-term requests:

  • Pray that Emily would be able to walk down the aisle for Ali’s wedding without a noticeable limp (October 27). This is simply a desire and not something we must have. But it would be so kind of God to do that for her.
  • Pray that Emily’s bone scan would come out clear this week.
  • Pray that the tests on her earing and heart would give good results.
  • Please pray that Emily, Sue and I will live out Psalm 56:3-4: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise — in God I trust and am not afraid.”

Some Photos to Get a Glimpse of the Last Week:

On Friday night, when I left the hospital to go to the apartment for the last time – I stopped and looked up at the hospital and was able to rejoice, cry, and pray – thankful for God’s great grace over the last ten months. I can’t count the number of times I thanked God for this place as I left in the dark. To imagine it may be the last time I leave late at night – in the dark – overwhelmed me with emotion and thankfulness that this part of the journey is over.

This was the apartment I stayed in above the garage of a co-worker. They have a detached garage so I was able to come and go without bothering them. It is less than 2 miles from the hospital. Although I never was able to enjoy the games – I loved being so close to Emily and Sue.

This picture likely only makes sense to those who have gone through chemo…

On Emily’s last day a professional oboe player came into her room to play some Disney songs for her. He was fantastic!

Alex came for one more rehab before we left the hospital.

Alex is very pleased with her flexibility and strength. Now it is about learning to walk without a limp.

Alex has been awesome. Emily has loved working with him.

Many nurses left Emily messages who weren’t able to be there for bell-ringing.

Lauren, her nurse on the final morning – read us texts for a lot of the nurses who worked with Emily over the last few months.

I will never forget the first time I saw the bell and heard what it was for. I’ve waited for this day for almost 10 months.

The joy on her face represents the joy that is in our family’s hearts.

After the bell-rining, we went to lunch with some family and friends. This restaurant (Little Matt’s) gives some of its proceeds to cancer research. And for a bonus – the food was great! They so kindly paid for our family’s lunch and Brooke’s family’s lunch too (Brooke is battling brain cancer) – because of our cancer battles. One of the owners’ sons’ had a battle with cancer many years ago. We look forward to coming back to this restaurant and supporting what they are doing.

We are thankful for this group of people.

We are all exhausted and it feels unreal that we won’t be sleeping downtown anytime in the near future.

  1. You dont know me but I’m praying for you many kinds of prayers!Emily and am so happy this part of your journey is through. Asking for joy in your life that only the Lord can give

  2. Praise God! Glad to hear these amazing updates and will continue to lift you all up in my prayers. You have certainly (and not surprisingly) maintained the best perspective through everything. You’re all (especially Emily) an amazing example of what God can do in and through those that trust in Him in every circumstance through every challenge. Thank you for keeping us updated and God Bless you all.

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