The eye has passed. The whiplash from the opposite winds thrust you as if you are mere weightless paper. The sting, the punch, the gasp of air you want to take in but can’t. And yet, hope finds its way in. Hope tells you it’s ok, the storm can’t stay in its place. It’s always moving, looking to gain strength or lose momentum. Its gain seem strong but eventually it will see defeat. It will lose its power. It will retreat. The winds go still, the darkness gives to light and the clouds will dissipate to bring forth the brightest of rainbows. . . Even in the midst of the storm there is always hope for the rainbow: the promise.
Most days and most of the time, I’m peaceful. I see life after cancer. My heart is protected and I’m kept pure in His love and His hope. Today, I took a step into the oncologist’s office and within minutes everything I trust to be true was swept away in the wind, swiftly and unapologetically as if my heart was turned off and my intellect was the only thing I could rely on. Fight-or-flight type response. The need for every data point and everything there is to know. No matter the amount of deep breaths, my heart raced.
In comes the Oncologist. Its only been 16 days, but already we know the routine, the questions and the answers. Nothing new, same story, same response or lack thereof. The oncologist reviewed the pathology reports and the MRI reports. Then came the PET Scan.
Deep Breath. Breathe deeply. I’m shaking. This is not what I expected of myself at this very moment, but there’s nothing I can do. I can’t control these involuntary emotions that flood me. I have my pen and paper ready eager to know what is happening in Ryan’s body.
The doctor takes his time reviewing each point. I do appreciate that. He seems so receptive and willing to answer questions as we go. Systematically we go through each major body part.
Results: (paraphrased & condensed for this blog)
Brain: no signs of malignancy – no cancer.
Neck: multiple enlarged nodes throughout various chains of the neck ranging in size from 1cm to 2cm.
Chest: multiple enlarged nodes measuring up to 1.6cm. Atelectasis of much of the right lower lobe associated with a large pleural effusion that show no elevated uptake to indicate malignancy. In other words, the right lung has around 1 liter of fluid, it’s not cancerous.
Abdomen & Pelvis: The spleen is enlarged and has malignancy. “Bulky adenopathy” throughout the abdomen. A large mass of mesenteric nodes measures 5.5 x 12.5 x 14.2cm where SUVs peak at 7.0. Smaller cluster throughout the rest of the region. In other words, there is a large bulk of very swollen lymph nodes all over his abdomen and smaller clusters throughout including the groin.
Musculoskeletal: no cancer.
Final diagnosis: Stage 4 B-Cell Follicular Lymphoma, Grade 2. It is an indolent lymphoma (slow growing), in the spleen and waiting on bone marrow biopsy.
Medically speaking, it’s a double edged sword. Aggressive lymphomas are curable. Indolent lymphomas such as Follicular lymphomas are not curable. All they can do is treat it to lessen its effect. Basically, the standard medical route is to do chemotherapy for 6 months, hoping it reduces the size of the lymphomas (possible remission) and wait and see how long it takes the nodes to swell up again. The typical recurrence is 2-5 years. Once it comes back with aggressive symptoms (night sweats, weight loss, etc), you try another chemotherapy cocktail in the hopes they can treat it for a while. Repeat until nothing else works. That’s it. There’s not much else to it. The challenge is that even with the new drugs . . .
There still remain some unanswered questions about Bendamustine+Rituxan. The first question is with respect to secondary cancers years down the road. Most chemotherapy regimens are known to significantly increase the risk of secondary cancers 10-15-20 years down the road. It will take many years before we know if Bendamustine makes that risk higher, or lower than other treatments. (http://www.nhlcyberfamily.org/types/follicular.htm
GULP. Let that sink in. My husband is ONLY 35 Years Old. Current medical science states that they cannot eradicate Follicular Lymphoma and he has a 36% chance of living past 10 years based on their treatments. And, it means that he would live with the lymphoma and the symptoms would come and go for the duration of his life. Even if the chemotherapy drug were to work it significantly increases the risk of other cancers. GULP. Tears. I did not just hear those words. I did not just hear a life sentence.
BUT. “Your Lymphoma is misbehaving.”
Those words, an array of hope glistened in the conversation.
So what does that mean? Ryan’s symptoms 2 weeks ago showed a very advanced lymphoma: headaches, night sweats, fatigue, chest pain, yet those symptoms have all disappeared “on their own.” Riiiiight. On their own? I am sorry that you feel that way, doc. It is not mere coincidence. He did finally acknowledge at some point that maybe the diet changes can help symptoms for a little while but that those would come back soon. By the way, symptoms just don’t disappear “on their own.” Also, since his symptoms have decreased greatly there is no need to rush into chemotherapy as he is now doing so well. However, of course, he highly suggested starting chemo after the next follow up meeting in which we will review the bone marrow biopsy, the blood test results and the fluid in his lung.
(On a side note: at this time we opted to not have the doc remove the fluid from Ryan’s lung since he is not showing any symptoms. The doctor said he was fine to ‘wait and see’ if the body removed the fluid itself, if not, at the next meeting we would discuss the procedure.)
I already have proof that our initial attack on cancer has brought positive results. . . However, there is still so much to learn, so much to uncover, so much to dig, to read, to listen, to watch. SO MUCH TO DO. And, not enough time. Not enough resources. Not enough brain power. How do we go forward? What do we do?
We are led.
We are sons and daughters of Christ with the Holy Spirit living in us, guiding us and showing us the way.
We are conquerors and overcomers.
We are led, living loved, living free.
Eradication of cancer is possible and it is proven. The stories are already out there. There is a way, its just not necessarily the standard American medical way. Let’s open our eyes outside our cities, our borders. So many people have already found these ways, but money has its foothold on the policies of America that will NOT allow the prevention and cures of cancer to be acknowledged or even publicly practiced in the USA. This is not the time for Cancer Awareness! Seriously, who hasn’t heard of cancer!?!?! No, it is the time for Cancer Prevention and the ERADICATION of Cancer. Its time we wake up and see that everything we need to heal our bodies has already been provided by the earth.
We are not defeated. We are empowered. We will continue to share our journey of life. We hope you will continue the journey with us.