Today, I saw my oncologist, Dr. Gilbert, and her nurse, Beverly, before going to my chemotherapy session. Dr. Gilbert was disappointed that my pain level had not decreased and the tumor had not shrunk at all after last week's infusion. Most patients who are chemotherapy naive see a quick response where both pain levels and tumor size are concerned. It is disheartening that my body did not respond as most do; however, it is still possible that I will begin to respond to my current regimen. Another treatment, therefore, was given as scheduled today.
I will see Dr. Gilbert again next Friday before my third scheduled chemo infusion. If, on exam, the tumor seems to have begun responding, we will continue the same regimen of chemo for a total of 9 weeks and then proceed to radiation and lower doses of concurrent chemo. If the tumor does not appear smaller next week, my chemo regimen will be changed to a much more potent cocktail. Of course, a more potent cocktail means a better chance of killing cancer cells, but also means more attack on healthy cells and increased side effects. Hair loss, which doesn't bother me, is one. The other is intense nausea and vomiting. For this reason, Dr. Gilbert would hospitalize me for about 4 days for the first round of the new cocktail so that she can administer drugs intravenously to help prevent the nausea and vomiting.
If we have to go with the new cocktail, I will also begin preparation for radiation therapy as soon as possible. A special mask has to be created, which I will wear during the treatments to help target the beams appropriately. Of course, the goal is to kill all the bad tissue and protect as much of the good tissue as possible. Radiation will be very rough since it involves the side of my tongue primarily. It is thought to be more tolerable when it only involves the back of the tongue or the very tip.
I want all of you to know that I remain positive and continue to place my trust in our outlandishly gracious and loving Father. He did, however, give me a very black and white, analytical mind. Because of that, I want to be straight with you. I can't expect you to pray as fervently as I would like if I fail to level with you. I know I posted recently that I have heard cure rates ranging from 40-80%, but realistically, my cure rate where earthly medical knowledge is concerned is probably more like 40%. I say that not to scare you or be dramatic, but to help you grasp the gravity of my illness, and in doing so, spark passionate prayers. See, I know the Father can heal me if He so chooses, but I do believe that He wants us to cry out to Him. I must confess, there are days when getting through hygiene details and meals and some communication on this blog take all my energy. So, while I am still praying and will be, I need you to pray in my stead. I know you have been, and my gratitude just continues to grow.
I really believe that God will hear us, and I will begin to respond to this current regimen. In fact, I am feeling better or as good tonight as I have at any point during this week. I believe God has already started making a difference through today's treatment, because of your bold requests on my behalf.
My brother reminded me today that God doesn't care about cure rate percentages. A dear friend reminded me that "really ugly cancer + infinite, relentlessly loving God = big miracle." They're both correct, of course.
There are many fun and positive things to share today, as well, but even though I feel better, my mind is tired and needs rest. I'll write about the good stuff tomorrow, God willing.
I love you all, but more importantly, Jesus Christ, the Creator and Savior of the world loves you. How 'bout that?
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." -Ephesians 3:17-19