Fighting Cancer Worries with Proverbs 19:23

I just finished talking to Marian this morning. Lillian is recovering from surgery to remove a metal plate that was put in her chin during her first surgery. She wanted that out before she started radiation. Even though medical personnel assured her the radiation wouldn't affect that spot, it was a major concern for her what would happen if it did (severe burning). So she wanted it removed. Chemo and radiation treatments will start just as soon as she is fully healed from the surgery. The surgery was Thursday and Marian says she has had a lot of swelling. But Lillian is tough and she's hanging right in there.

We see Dr. Flinn on Thursday for John's three month visit. His lymph nodes are getting pretty large again. The steroid shots only seem to reduce them for about a month and then they come right back. So we will be exploring other treatment options on this visit. We already know that Dr. Flinn thinks he should go ahead with chemo, which is the best hope for a long remission, rather than just masking symptoms with steroids. John admitted to me last night that he never feels good. And Dr. Flinn believes he will feel much better after treatment. Because John has three out of four good prognostic markers, he fully expects John to have a good response to treatment. I hope and pray he's right. This particular chemo (Fludarabine) is not supposed to cause severe nausea or hair loss. Many patients tolerate it quite well.

I don't look forward to Thursday. Making the decision to proceed with the treatment CLL patients refer to as the "big guns" makes me anxious. Some patients do remarkably well and others regret using it, explaining they've had the immune system of an aids patient ever since. So it's a little scary. I want John to have good quality of life and not be sick. And the hardest part is not knowing which decision will result in the best quality of life for the longest time.

I sure wish John could be asymptomatic like his mom and my dad (who also have CLL). Some patients with CLL never need treatment. But CLL is different in every patient.

I need to stop talking about it, I guess. I'm starting to feel those overwhelming emotions. And that doesn't help anybody. God is aware and I know He cares. His grace is sufficient.

Please keep us in your prayers! I love John so much and it's very hard not to worry about the future. But God does not want me to fear or worry.

Those who fear the Lord will fear nothing else.
(Prov. 19:23)

Comments

justme said…
Oh Shari, I know well those "overwhelming emotions" and they're not fun! But "God is aware and I know He cares" too. This song is truly wonderful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbZmfQB0Kkc Do you know it? I hadn't until a couple of weeks ago, and I just love it!

And please don't forget, as you've so eloquently said, "in addition to His presence with us at all times, we have each other." You're so encouraging to others, I hope it encourages you to know that I'm praying for you guys, especially for His peace and wisdom in how best to proceed.
Shari said…
I hadn't heard this song before, but I'm listening to it right now. It's beautiful, Sally. Your comment was so comforting. I feel your understanding and I am feeling your prayers. I'm so thankful John doesn't care who knows anymore so I can share what I'm feeling when I need to. Sometimes it's easier to write about the emotions I'm feeling than it is to talk about them - because of the emotion and the tears that come whenever I do.

I'm crying right now. John just looked at me and said, "Are you crying?" I said, "Yes." He asked, "Why?" And I said, "Someone just sent me a song and it's just what I needed today." Thanks, Sally.
Shari said…
When I say "crying," I mean a tear on my cheek. I'm not boo-hooing. : ) They were tears of a touched heart and not tears of sadness. Big difference!
WallStreet said…
Shari: I juust read where you said your husband, John was sick, maybe rediation or chemo. I had no idea, and i am so sorry to read of this. Please be aware that we will keep John in our Prayers, and you also. WallStreet in St. Pete L.L.
Shari said…
Larry - John has CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia). It is a chronic leukemia; incurable but treatable. And it is not the same disease for every patient. Some have a very benign form of CLL and wouldn't ever know they had it except for their high white count. My dad has had it for about 12 years and has never needed treatment. Other patients need treatment at diagnosis. So it can be benign, aggressive or anywhere in between. John is somewhere in between aggressive and benign. He was diagnosed a little over two years ago. We tried a mild treatment (not chemo) last summer and it wasn't effective on his lymph nodes (and the nodes were the reason for treatment). So we will have to move on to stronger treatment soon. He hasn't done chemo yet. We just know we are moving closer to that decision. We see the doctor Thursday. (He sees a CLL specialist every three months.) This is a disease you just have to manage as well as you can. Hopefully we can do that for many years. And he is not sick right now. He just never feels good. Fatigue is the most common symptom of all CLL patients. And he is increasingly experiencing that. His business is also very stressful. I always get a little anxious just before doctor visits and blood work results. I know what every trend means (as a result of educating myself thoroughly on this disease). They draw his blood and put it in a machine that spits out results in a matter of minutes. Then the lab tech hands me my copy (and I know how to read the results). So I always feel a little nervous as those visits approach. But I am a little more anxious about this visit because I have a feeling we will be starting chemo right away. Last summer John had eight weeks of the milder treatment (Rituxan), which is infused through IV. It takes all day to get the treatment and I am able to sit with him, reminding him to drink lots of water, etc. Another concern of mine is that John only has one kidney. And your body has to process all the toxins and the malignant cells that are killed by the chemo through the kidneys. He had a serious reaction after his first infusion last summer. He passed out cold in the elevator after we left the doctor's office and then again when we got him back into the office. I thought he was dying. It was real scary. That was a condition called tumor lysis syndrome that happens to some patients. I found out you CAN die from it, but most people don't. So these are some of the reasons I feel anxious. I really appreciate your prayers.

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