A Final Update on Emily and Cancer until December (Emily Whiting Update #31: 10/14/18)

The photo on the left was taken on our first visit to MD Anderson. On my very first update asking for prayer, I mentioned how I look forward to our last visit to MD Anderson. The photo on the right won’t be our last visit, but things certainly change from here. We will only be back for a few more rehab appointments, and for quarterly check-ups. What a crazy year this has been. And this may sound strange, but we are thankful for it. God has been so good to us.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

It was three weeks ago since the end of chemo. Since then Emily has been back to the hospital about six times… Here are some of the reasons for visits and the results:

What’s Been Happening and Why: 

  • Labs
    • Why? They are constantly checking her blood to be sure things are going back to normal.
    • Results: All seems good here. No transfusions have been needed. She is still susceptible to sickness for a couple of months as her body regains strength.
  • Surgery
    • Why? To remove the port in her chest that has been used to administer the drugs.
    • Results: That went well and it is gone!
  • Rehab
    • Why? She still goes back to rehab at the hospital once a week. They give her work to do on her own, but she will meet a few more weeks for rehab
    • Results: She continues to work on walking without a limp.
  • Bone scan
    • Why? It is a scan to look for cancer. Osteosarcoma spreads to the lungs or other bones. So for the next two years, they will look for cancer in other bones.
    • Results: No cancer found!
  • Echocardiogram and Electrocardiogram
    • Why? To see if the chemo has caused any heart issues (one of the side effects of her rounds of chemo)
    • Results: All still looks good. Apparently, they will keep checking her heart for life as the effects of chemo could show up much later in the heart.
  • Audiology test
    • Why? A common side-effect of one of the three chemo treatments she endured is hearing loss.
    • Results: We have been pleased that she has not suffered any noticeable hearing loss. The audiologist told us it is normal for some loss. We are so thankful for that.
  • Neuropsych Test
    • Why? This was a five-hour test to find out some of the impact of chemo on her brain functions.
    • Results: We haven’t gotten the results from this test yet.
  • Chest CT
    • Why? To look for any nodule growth in her lungs. That is where the sarcoma typically spreads to.
    • Results: All looked good. There are still stable spots they have been watching from the beginning, and the oncologist is watching those closely in coming scans. She told us she would like to go in and remove them to be safe, but they are too small to find in surgery. That grabbed our attention a bit. So those nodules will be something we will be paying very close attention to at the next scan.

What is coming next:

  • Rehab will continue for a few more weeks.
  • Ali’s wedding is coming in less than two weeks! We all look forward to being in Rochester for the celebration and to see our friends and those who have been praying for us.
  • The next round of scans and tests will be the week before Christmas. I plan to send out an update once we have those results.
  • She will have another audiology test in three months and then they will decide how often they will check her hearing.
  • Long-term: Emily will have bone scans for two years (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 months for year 4 and 5
    • There will be a plan created at the end of year five (likely a scan every year, for life).
  • Long-term: She will have heart tests once a year as there can be long-delayed heart impacts from chemo=

What you could pray for:

Our recent praises:

  • We are SO SO thankful that chemo is over. It was a long journey.
  • We are very thankful for Emily and how her faith has stayed strong and her attitude has been amazing.
  • We are very thankful that all the scans and tests are clear (with the exception of the nodules in the lungs).
  • We are so thankful that Emily hasn’t had any complications after chemo. With a body weak after ten months of chemo, sickness is common. But she is doing well.
  • We are so thankful for the friends and family who have prayed for Emily throughout this journey. We believe in the power of prayer and are so thankful that God still responds to the prayers of his people.
  • We are thankful that Emily is all done with treatments before Ali’s wedding.

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.

Some photos:

Here is Emily going through one of her tests. I’m glad she isn’t claustrophobic.

This is Emily pre-surgery (to take out her port). I think back to how fearful she was when they put it in (and us too). How things have changed, and how minor surgeries now feel very minor to Emily! 🙂

This is Emily’s port that was placed inside her chest for the last ten months. They did three surgeries. The first was to put it in. one to secure it. It was moving around and they struggled to access it. And the third was to take it out! The white part was placed into a larger vien in her chest to carry meds and fluids through her body.

Georgia has been coming to MD Anderson for part of her chemo treatments. She is early in the chemo process, and she and Emily have connected and enjoy each other’s company. Here they are taking a cooking class together at MD Anderson.

Emily was granted 3 wishes from Dear Jack, and one of them was to take Sue and I to Les Miserables. So shortly after her last chemo round, we downtown to enjoy the amazing play that reminds me of God’s great grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Thanks, Dear Jack and Emily for providing the reminder of the Gospel.

Emily is back to studying. She is taking classes online this semester and after being a bit behind because of the last round of chemo, she has now caught up and continues to work hard.

The person to my left is Pastor Greg Bishop. He was my youth pastor when I was a teen. After I graduated from high school, he moved to Michigan. He asked me to speak at his 30th anniversary at his church in Kalamazoo. I was able to speak in the AM service and celebrate the morning with the Bishops and their church. The two on my right are two of their children: Sarah and Brent. The last time I saw them, I was a senior in high school and Brent was 3 and Sarah was 8.

A couple weeks ago, I was working with a church in South Carolina, and I had to drive to Charlotte to fly out. I had a couple extra hours before needing to be at the Charlotte airport, so I stopped by the Billy Graham museum. I’d been there once before (I recommend it highly). My favorite thing at the museum is the epitaph on Ruth’s tombstone. It says: “End of construction – Thank you for your patience.” I love that. I want that on my tombstone.

Life is getting back to normal – so that includes important things like getting Daisy ready for Halloween. I don’t think she is a fan of wearing T-shirts.

This Saturday, we did some Bike Ride Rehab. Just a couple of weeks ago, Emily wasn’t able to ride her bike. So she continues to make progress.

 

Final Thoughts:

For those who made it to the end… I have been sending a lot of updates over the last ten months (this is number 31). Thank you SO much for following along, for expressing concern, and especially for your prayers. We thank God for you! I don’t plan to send any future updates specifically on Emily and cancer until her check-up in December. If you have questions or wondering what is happening, of course you are welcome to reach out anytime. Most of you see this through Facebook, but some of you have subscribed to my blog to receive these updates. I may soon go back to using this blog for thoughts on the Bible, church, leadership, theology, and life. So – if you subscribed to keep up with Emily, feel free to unsubscribe. I don’t want to fill your inbox with things you weren’t intending to receive. You will see the update on Facebook (where most see it). Again, thank you SO much for your interest and love for our daughter and for our family.

 

15 comments
  1. Thank you for the update. I was missing the blog, yet happy not to be reading one. Still got y’all on prayer for healing and good grades. Safe travels to Rachacha!

  2. David,
    Alan and I are rejoicing with you, Sue, and Emily! What a blessing to be done with this year of surgery and chemo. We’ve followed your journey closely and have been Emily’s prayer warriors from a distance. We also have been able to share your updates with other friends who were also praying for Emily. We will continue to pray for her and all of you in your continuing journey. Soon…the joy of a wedding! Another blessing from God, who richly loads us with blessings each and every day if we only have eyes to see them. I know we haven’t seen you all in years, but I just want you to know that your preaching and teaching at North Baptist (when it was still called that) had a major impact on me. I will always be grateful to you for showing me the joy found in our God through the Doctrines of Grace. I’d known and believed them before, but the joy of worship and everyday life were taught by you. Thank you! Please know we will continue to pray along with you and will watch for the great things our God will continue to do. And, I’ll enjoy following your blog :-).

    with love,
    Penny

  3. Praising the Lord for His goodness to Emily and your family! Asking for the nodules to disappear by the touch of His healing Hand and for the evil cancer never ever to return! Your journey, I’m sure, has strengthened the spiritual life of all who came along with you via these blog posts. Thank you, David, for being an exceptional dad to this precious gift from God, and to Sue, who I always knew would be a great mom, just like her mom, with a love for children that surpasses the norm! For her siblings and the pup, you probably will never know the joy you brought to the lives of your family and us as we watched through words and pics the wonderful, loving relationship that this family in Christ has given not only to Emily but to all of us! May God richly bless each one of you all as you begin a journey apart from the intense focus that this evil cancer has brought to your lives, and as now you can victoriously give all the honor, praise, and glory to the One Who brought you through with His peace that surpasses all understanding! I’m sure we all look forward to the continuation of the story in victory for many years to come through Jesus Christ Who gives us much more grace than we can handle! In His love, Pat

  4. David— what an incredible journey, full of God’s grace and mercy. Thank you for keeping us updated so well. I have been reading the updates to my kids as we have prayed , and it has been amazing to watch their faith in prayer grow. Thank you for allowing God to use you to minister to others through this. Many blessings to you and yours!❤️

  5. Thanks for the updates David. It was good to follow along and see the progress and how God was working and as reminders to keep praying for Emily’s healing and recovery.
    So happy to get them. Sorry we missed you a couple of months ago. Uncle Paul & Aunt True.

  6. Your heart and attitude is inspiring. Praying for Gods glory, but also that he gives your family the desire of your hearts. A fully healed daughter.

  7. Thanks for the update! Praising God for this amazing report. I will continue to pray for clean scans. Enjoy your time in Rochester with family and friends… so much happiness to celebrate!

  8. David,
    I have sincerely appreciated your blog updates. It takes a lot of the questions out and keeps our minds free of “ filling in the blanks” as I call it. The human mind is great at filling in the blanks with what sounds best to us. You have kept all of us in Rochester out of the dark and we sincerely appreciate that bc you and your family mean so much to so many of us here. Does not matter that you have relocated. Our hearts will always be with the Whiting’s. I sound like I’m speaking for the masses. I don’t mean to speak for so many but I know far too many people that feel exactly as I do. So I’ll keep saying “ We .” We will continue to keep the strength of prayer up bc the journey sounds ongoing. For this time in the present, enjoy your families chance to rest. ❤️

  9. Thank you for each update on Emily. I have appreciated them and especially the pictures. I lead a prayer group at church and they pray and enjoy following.So thank God has brought you all through thus far.
    I don’t know if you get to this part of the country or not but if you do contact me as would love to see you.
    Love Aunt De

  10. You do not know me but I have prayed for Emily through her whole ordeal. She continues to be on my daily list, petitioning God to completely heal her of cancer & that it will NEVER return. Also praying for healing of her leg, relief of pain & for NO limp when she walks the aisle at her sister’s wedding! A few days ago I had a stomach virus that included nausea. While in bed asking God to take it away, I thought of all the nausea Emily endured & I cried. I hope I never have to deal with chemo, but if I do, I pray I will be as brave as Emily was. She is my hero!! Praising God for all He had done in her life & the impact in lives of all she has come in contact with. To God be the glory….great things He has done.

  11. God is good all the time! All the time God is good! Thankful for answered prayers on her behalf. My niece who had lymphoma is expecting baby #5! Looking forward to seeing how God will use Emily for His glory!

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