Hi faithful friends. Sooo many of you have reached out and remembered yesterday was chemo day and to tell me you’re praying for the dreaded today and tomorrow. The worst doesn’t usually start until later on Thursdays but we talked to Dr. Osborne about playing defensive so I’ve already taken the heavy meds (Dilaudid – 5-6x stronger than Hydrocodone) and decided to send a message before the extent of my communications becomes groans or gags. Unless, Lord willing, this one is different! We shall see…
In other medical news…
Over the last months I’ve had numbness in my right pinky that has migrated down into my palm and towards my ring finger. And, in last couple of weeks, 2 friends commented on my swollen hand (thanks Mandy and Barron) which I hadnt noticed. But when I told Dr. Osborne she asked if my arm was swollen too – and without sportin’ much sleeveless I hadn’t noticed that either. A coupe months ago, I saw a chiropractor we love to see if there was a pinched nerve affecting the pinky but he couldn’t find anything. To understand the pinky numbness and the hand/arm swelling, we did 2 MRIs – in neck and shoulder. The neck shows a compression fracture at bottom of my neck (C6) where there’s evidence of a metastatic lesion (medical term for tumor). When bones are weak ‘they fold over on themselves’ which is the compression fracture. I can feel it in certain positions but don’t want to do radiation (as she described it that would be similar to ‘spot welding’ to strengthen the bone) until it’s more problematic because radiation also compromises the bone marrow and one of reasons for my anemia is the disease in the bone marrow. But the lesion in that location doesn’t explain the hand or arm. And the MRI of the shoulder shows inflammation but nothing growing so we will start a low grade steroid for the inflammation. And, by ruling out any growth causing the swelling and numbness we are left to conclude I have lymphedema. Lymphadema is a common condition that can surface weeks or months or years after having lymph nodes removed – in my case it has been 3.5 years. The function of lymph system is to filter things out of the system and without any of the nodes under my arm it can’t ‘detox’ my arm or hand – hence the ‘edema’/swelling. So lymphedema therapy (which starts today at 1p) involves massage therapy to help encourage the system to filter things away from my hand and arm as well as a not-so-cool sleeve that I will soon be sportin’. I described it as bad pantyhose for the arm and the nurse didn’t disagree. But as Jamie pointed out clearly I’m not the only one with lymphedema because there’s a website called lymphadiva.com with hundreds of their attempts at more attractive sleeves. So if you see me and wonder if I got a new tattoo from shoulder to wrist I hope you remember this post.
And, as if there isn’t enough going on in my body, when Jamie brought me home from my MRI on Monday I casually ran my hand across my shirt over my left boob (see also: the Lord) and thought I felt something. That seemed so incredulous that I didn’t even mention to Jamie and was home minutes later. When I changed clothes I did a better assessment and was pretty sure I felt something. I wasn’t too scared or alarmed and didn’t mention it to anyone else until Scott got home – and he confirmed my suspicion. As did anyone else who happened to come by between Monday and my appointment. Poor Steph and Sue who were both offered a feel!
In yesterday’s appointment with Dr. Osborne and a new doctor doing her fellowship that we really liked, we reviewed all my numbers from blood work (which looked good for most part though the tumor markers which had been steadily declining had crept back up a few points) and discussed my anemia. The fatigue is definitely a big factor in my quality of life so when she suggested a low dose of Ritalin as a possible help for fatigue I was quick to accept. My little peanut gallery of support (Scott, Amy, Jamie and my mom) couldn’t contain their running commentary and amusement (well, except for my mom…) and I heard Scott ask under his breath ‘does that come with marriage counseling?’ Very funny.
And that was all before she pulled back my gown to do her regular tests of lungs, heart, and breast exam. While we had been waiting, also to the shock and amusement of my peanut gallery of support, I had borrowed my mom’s pen and drawn a circle where I found the lump. A little roadmap?! But with or without my ‘directions’, she didn’t have any problem locating the lump. She asked if I am willing to do a biopsy. Yes! It’s not fun being poked on but I want The information. [And as I was writing this post, Dr. Lamont’s office called to schedule it for Tuesday at 11:30.]. At this point, whether or not it’s cancer isn’t as important as it’s biological attributes that might give us more information about how to best fight the cancer in my body. This would be the second time that while things seem to be getting smaller within my body something has grown elsewhere that we can see or feel – the lymph nodes in my neck I noticed last summer, or the inflammatory breast cancer last spring, and now this. It is statistically very rare for cancer to move from one breast to the other but as both Christina (nurse) and Dr. Osborne commented (separate from each other) ‘your case hasn’t been known for being normal.’
In other non-medical news…
And for my last tidbit of an update from my world and a request for prayer, Scott and I are sharing our story this Saturday at Watermarks Training Day and I am leading a lesson on all I’ve studied and learned about Heaven. Anyone want to join us?!
You can sign up here: Training Day. Checkin is at 9 on Saturday (less expensive and easier if you’re able to register in advance). Our story and the lesson portion starts at 9:30 until 12. You can imagine why I might be passionate about this topic:) And hopefully you can appreciate why it would be more fun with friends – so I sincerely welcome/invite any and all of you to join us. I would also appreciate your prayers for the energy I desire for the session (by Saturdays I am usually feeling better but just wiped out from the week) and for clarity of my/His message. It’s my heart and hope that others would be as excited as I am about the Person and Place that awaits the sons and daughters of the King!
To the many of you who have prayed and texted me already about this week’s chemo and aftermath, I can’t thank you enough for pleading my case before a Heavenly Father who knows, cares, grieves with us, and is kindly sovereign over all. You bless me. And my family. And we love you.