Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Plan of Action

Well, here's the initial plan. I will be starting chemotherapy in about 1 or 2 weeks. Do chemo for about 3 months, then get ready to do a stem cell transplant. Ok, so a little class on what Hodgkin's Lymphoma is, and stem cells. Hodgkin's lymphoma is basically a cancer of the white blood cells (that's why you may hear people refer to lymphoma as a blood cancer). A lot of the white blood cells collect in the lymph nodes, and are sent to where they need to be when they need to go. So, some of the white blood cells in the lymph nodes have turned cancerous. Ok, so from here, the bone marrow is what produces all the blood cells, red, white, platelets, stem cells, etc. The stem cells are basically the building blocks for the marrow to re-grow (from what I understand). Basically what's going to happen is: after the chemo, they will give me a drug that makes the bone marrow pump out a lot of stem cells into the blood stream. While those stem cells are out there in the blood, they will do a type of transfusion to collect the stem cells. Once they get enough, they will clean them up from any cancer cells that may be there, and then store them in a freezer. From there, I will get an extremely high-dose of chemo that will basically kill off my current bone marrow. At this point, the marrow won't be able to produce any blood cells, to possibly include the cancerous white blood cells. Once the bone marrow is dead, they will begin to put back the stem cells, and let my body rebuild the marrow. During this time of the marrow rebuilding, I'll be out of work. My immune system will basically be shot, so not much contact with a lot of people for a while. Although a good thing is, I won't have to stay in the hospital unless I get sick. This will be about 3 to 6 months, and during this time I won't be allowed to work. Thankfully, my work is going to help me out a lot with this. I'll have enough time off saved up for about 1 1/2 months, my brother is already going to donate some of his leave to me, and then a lot of the firefighters have already said they would donate some of their time also. So, I won't be out of a job, and I'll still get a paycheck. So, that's a big load off of my mind.
So, that's it for now. I know it's a lot, but I'll have more details later on. I'm not sure when I'll start chemo, but when I do, I'll let everyone know. It's a lot for me to process, but I'm working on it. It's gotten me pretty down about everything, but I know there's light at the end of the tunnel. I just hate having to go through all of this again, and worse this time. But I'm working on keeping a good perspective on all of this. There's a song out there from Justin McRoberts, http://www.justinmcroberts.com/mainpage.html (some christian singer guy ;-)) and he has a song called "Done Living" that has been a really big inspiration for me. The main chorus, which is the part that hits me the most, is:

"You see the question isn't are you going to suffer any more

But what will it have meant when you are through?

The question isn't are you going to die, you're going to die

But will you be done living when you do?"

This just sets my perspective straight each time I hear it. I play it about 3 times each time I'm driving somewhere. It's a very powerful song, and the rest of the lyrics are just as good. These lyrics help me to see that what I'm going through isn't just about me, but when I get through this, what am I going to do with the experiences? What does all of this really mean? Why? And there's no use in worrying about death. Everyone is going to die at some point. But the thing to look at and question is whether I have lived this life to the fullest? So this has been a good thing for me to focus on. Knowing that God is going to be with me through all of this, no matter what the outcome may be, is a huge relief. Even though I know I'll get frustrated, angry, sad, sick, depressed, just about every emotion, I know that God will always be there in some form or fashion. My prayer is that I continue to live this life as best I can. And maybe my story can help someone else. Who knows. We'll see. Thanks everyone for the help and encouragement so far.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Update You've All Been Waiting For...

Well, here's the news. The cancer is back. Same thing as before, Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This time, as of right now, it's at stage 2. But this time I'm going to have to do chemo, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant. And the cancer center I was going to can not do the marrow transplant, so I have to start going to another hospital, Northside Medical. And I basically have to start all over again with the tests and everything. I don't know all the details yet, but this time around is going to be a lot rougher than before. The chemo-therapy is going to be a stronger dose, radiation for 5 days a week for about a month or two (I think this is how it will go), and the marrow transplant. I'm not sure on how the marrow transplant will work, but my first doctor told me they would take my current marrow, harvest the stem cells from it, grow a new, clean batch of marrow, and re-introduce that through an IV. At least that's the basics. This might change a little bit once I get started with Northside, but for now this is all I have to go on. It's definitely going to suck, but I'll survive. I really don't know what else to say at this point, but I'll get through it the best I can. I wish it was better news. Once I know more details I'll fill everyone in. So, if you all could, say a prayer or two for me. Lord knows I'm going to need it. As far as the LiveStrong challenge, that's not going to happen for me now. At least not this year. Maybe next time around. Thanks everyone for the support so far.