I have good news. Very good news, I think.
And I’m so sorry I made you wait til this morning to hear it. I was so sick when I got home last evening after a chemo treatment and the contrast CT Scan dye that’d been shot into me that I could barely make it to my bed. I actually got my iPad out in a futile attempt to jot a line of the good news, with a promise for more, but the iPad was on the blitz and I simply didn’t have the strength to go downstairs and fetch my laptop. In fact, I think I fell sound asleep as I was processing the idea.
But, trust me, it was worth the wait.
Early yesterday afternoon, we crammed into an exam room — me, my friend and chemo buddy Scott, my sister Julie, niece Natalie, and bff Tabitha. Add the doctor and the nurse from Clinical Trials to the mix, figure in the square footage of these rooms (think dorm room closet), and you get the visual. One of the nurses kept dragging in an extra chair, then another, then another. When we emerged a short while later, I’m certain we looked something akin to an impossible number of big-footed clowns emerging from a VW Bug.
But it was what happened in between that was so very important.
We couldn’t read the doctor’s expression when he entered the exam room. and believe me, we were all trying. Then he said, “How are you feeling today?” in a way that Scott later told me made him fear that he was about to drop a bomb.
But it was quite the opposite. The news was good. Very good. The doctor compared the X-ray taken of my chest this past Tuesday with the one that was taken April 15, the night I was in the ER for the blood transfusions. Not even three weeks had passed between the two images. And…
And, the spots in my lungs appear to be so small on the latest X-ray that they are nearly imperceptible!
To this, the doctor said, “It looks like your treatment is working!”
We were thrilled! There was cheering in Exam Room 4, loud enough, perhaps, to rival the crowd at the U-M stadium after a great play.
Of course, there are always a few outliers — there’s a question about a small tumor on my left lingula — that’s the middle lobe of the left lung (forgive me my limited knowledge of human anatomy intricacies.). The doc said that because the two X-ray reports had been read by two different radiologists — one on April 15 and the other on May 3 — one might have noted what the other didn’t. It happens.
To find out what we’re really looking at, the doc sent me for a CT Scan, which is a more sensitive tool than an X-ray, after my chemotherapy treatment yesterday. Results should be in early next week.
I’m not as obsessed about those results as I was about the ones following my first CT Scan, taken back in late March. The doc also compared those CT Scan results yesterday, threw them into the mix with the X-rays, and tried to give us the overall Big Picture. He noted the tumor shrinkage indicated by the first CT Scan report, followed by the continued shrinkage indicated by the X-rays. It does appear that we are moving in the right direction. For the first time, I really feel like we’re seeing true progress, progress that gives me a chance to heave a sigh of relief before I press onward.
As for the chest pain and pressure that precipitated the X-ray and this meeting, well, while no one knows for sure, it does appear that it is related to my asthma. The doc put me on a short round of steroids to see if it might clear it up. He also tried to explain to me a concept that is very hard to get through my thick head: Slow Down. “Right now,” he said, “you have a finite amount of energy and you need to use it wisely. Your body needs to call upon that for healing. Choose carefully what you say ‘yes’ to.”
I think we just might be seeing the first flickers of light wayyyy down there at the end of the tunnel. We may still have some dark passages to traverse along the way, but I swear, I see it! The light off in the distance, which, when we emerge from the tunnel, will turn out to be a roaring bonfire and around it, all of my friends and family, roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.
Thank you for all of your continued prayers and for lifting me and my needs up to the Lord. On Sunday, I was annointed with oil and prayed over by a group of elders and church members. I could feel the power of their prayers and I can feel the power of yours.
I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Copyright 2011, Amy Rauch Neilson