Monday, November 16, 2009

Long Time - No Blog

Well, it's sure been a long time. Since I've last blogged, Billy's Grandma passed away. It was a long journey and very hard on Billy. She was his mother figure growing up and they had a VERY strong connection. It was the first person that Billy has lost in his family and it's been very hard on everyone.

About me...I was diagnosed with melanoma in January of this year. It was a shocker for us all. I had a mass on the side of my neck that started off no bigger than a pea and by the time they actually removed it (with a 12 hour surgery) it was the size of a baseball. They anticipated paralyzed muscles in my face, some loss of use in my right arm, etc. When the doctor came out after the surgery he told Billy that it was as if "someone" built a wall next to the tumor so that the tumor had to grow flatter rather than deeper. This meant that there was no permanent nerve damage. Billy just said, "we know who built that wall." God has been so good to my family this year. The boys have been real troopers and constantly telling people to pray for me. Clayton had all of his teachers saying prayers all school year. He's my little prayer warrior. Scott's the quiet one that doesn't really want to talk about it, but he's the one that I go to when I want to pretend like things are normal. Billy's been my bulldog, fighting with the doctors to demand they treat me faster and give me the referrals that I need quicker. We're convinced that the waiting is what has caused the cancer to spread like it has.

I healed from surgery very quickly without any physical therapy, etc. My arm is pretty much back to normal and the scars (though they look bad to me) aren't that bad. We had to travel to Charleston for 6 weeks of radiation M-F in June. Everyone helped. Billy, Mama and Kristi took turns taking me for the treatments. The scans after the treatments showed that the radiation worked on my neck, but unfortunately the rest of my body was neglected and the melanoma was in my blood stream. Therefore, 2 small tumors were found near my kidney. We were sent to Maryland to a cancer institute, scanned and herded through a system like cattle...only to be told that they didn't think that this was the place that I needed to be at that time. There were other options that I needed to pursue first. We then went to Charlotte to meet with a doctor that had another type of treatment (IL2) that he wanted us to try. It's pretty harsh and rough on the body. It entailed 2 weeks in the ICU and then home for 4 weeks and then back to the ICU once more. However, when they did the scans to begin this treatment, they found 2 more small tumors near the 2 that were already of 4. Billy wanted them to realize that the waiting is what the problem is. They posed another opportunity to us...a clinical trial called CTLA4. It works in a small % of people. Billy and I had to make the decision, so we decided that we needed to try the clinical trial first and if that didn't work, then we would try the IL2.

For 12 weeks I did the clinical trial once a month in Charlotte. The first month was a little more stressful b/c they wanted to follow me more closely, so we were there weekly for blood draws. At the end of the treatment I waited 2 weeks and then got another set of scans...last Tuesday. PRAISE THE LORD...the treatments are working. My tumors have shrunk 40%. The doctor said this was wonderful results. They are going to keep me in the program since it seems to be working. On December 1 I will go for another round of scans...then more in January. Once they see that the medication is continuing to work then they will place me in the maintenance phase of the program...once every 3 month treatments. This will be long term until the end of this crappy road. I'm speaking in faith...speaking as though it already were. I am healed in Jesus' name. This treatment was designed specifically for me and the doctors just don't know it yet.

Please continue to follow my progress and Praise the Lord with us as we beat this thing as a family and claim our lives back. Continued prayers are much appreciated. Love to you all and thanks again.