Talk about a day filled with the entire gamut of emotions! I am pretty beat up, mentally, right now and frankly I don’t feel much like writing but I’m hoping it helps me by getting it out.
Tuesdays are difficult days for a few different reasons. The main reason is that we have to drive to Peoria for an appointment with our oncologist and then treatment in the morning and then close the day at OSF St. Francis in the Maternal Fetal Medicine wing. It makes for super long days and creates an emotional rollercoaster that feels almost unavoidable. We are spoiled on Mondays and Wednesday-Fridays because our treatment center is literally a 3-5 min drive from our house and makes the “unwind” process come much quicker after treatment. Tuesdays require a 45-50 min drive each way and can make it difficult when all Linds (and I) wants to do is go home to our pups and lay in our bed and just be.
Today started with a meeting with Dr. Ladanyi, our incredibly talented and intelligent Gyno Oncologist. I typically don’t get to go to the Tuesday morning meetings and treatment due to work but Lindsay keeps me updated as needed. Dr. Ladanyi told Lindsay that he was happy seeing results to treatment but then anything else that was remotely positive that he said was wiped away at the mention of post-birth surgeries and possible radiation/other treatments or scans. It brought those early on, very painful and still vividly real feelings back for Lindsay. Not to say that you aren’t constantly reminded of cancer when you have it anyway but hearing these more serious and high-impact topics brought up took Lindsay to a rough place mentally and set the tone for the day, unfortunately.
On a good note, her CA125 counts, that cancer marker that I mentioned a while back, was all the way down to 10!!! The prayers are working wonders and despite this not being a sole determining factor on the treatment progress, it’s undoubtedly a great step in the right direction. For perspective, CA125 counts were 100 at cycle 1, 24 before cycle 2 and now just 10 before cycle 3. The average person can have counts as high as 30-35 so we are headed in the right direction for sure! 🙂
But with the good news comes bad. Due to Friday being 7/3, Illinois Cancer Care is closed and thus we have to do our final day of treatment as outpatient treatment back in Peoria at OSF St. Francis. To top that off, Lindsay’s hemoglobin counts were low and in the “moderate” risk range and due to her being pregnant along with our doctor’s focus on quality of life during treatment, he made the decision to do a blood transfusion. For perspective, “mild” anemia would start around 11 g/dl and “moderate” starts at 9.4 g/dl. Lindsay’s was at 9 g/dl, just below the threshold of “mild” anemia, which is caused by the platinum based chemotherapy agents being used in her treatments, namely cisplatin. It’s unfortunately one of the “tradeoffs” or “risk vs. reward” side effects of this treatment regimen. All this said, we will be in Peoria by 9am to check in and we’ll probably be there until at least 5pm, possibly longer depending on how smoothly things go. It’s a hospital, who am I kidding? Things will more than likely not go very smoothly but we’ll do our best to not focus on that! Quite the day to spend our holiday “day off” together, huh? 😦
All this aside, treatment went pretty well after Lindsay, her Mom and Sam met with Dr. Ladanyi. She said despite feeling slightly nauseous she was feeling about as well as can be expected. I always meet Linds, Sam and Deb at the hospital for our afternoon High-Risk Obstetrician meetings, as that’s the fun part of the day and I will take every opportunity I can to see my son! We showed up a little early and eventually got seated in the ultrasound room and the tech started doing her thing. It’s pretty awesome watching them move the ultrasound around and making out the bits and pieces of the miracle that’s inside your wife. I was grinning from ear to ear and I was glad to see Lindsay smile too. Measurements were done and she moved to the 3D ultrasound to show us what the little man looked like this time and the little turd decided to hide from us! He not only had both hands in front of his face, he also had BOTH feet in front of his face! I guess after he decided to pose for us last time, he just decided enough was enough and wanted to hide! 🙂 The funny part is Lindsay said he was kicking like a mad man until she pulled out he 3D sono, then he stopped moving and apparently put his feet up by his head to hide!
We met with Dr. Leonardi’s practicing nurse, Beth, and she gave us some great news! Baby Joey was measuring right on, even slightly ahead of schedule! He was growing perfectly and his heartbeat, chambers and all other measurements looked great and he was in the 60th percentile or better in every measurement they took so we were overjoyed! 😀 Beth said Lindsay’s amniotic fluid levels (right at the highest and healthiest levels) and the baby’s growth made her remarkably happy and knew that Dr. Leonardi would be when he got back from vacation. On a better note, our long days end on a high note in Leonardi’s office each time and we left there with at least some semblance of positive thoughts and emotions. This week was a HUGE week for pregnancy as well. When you get past the 28th week of gestation your child’s chances of out-of-womb survival are as great as 90%, depending on which doctor you talk to! So it was awesome to hear Beth confirm that and tell us we can effectively take a “big ‘ol sigh of relief”. Baby Joey is growing healthily and is right on track with growth and they anticipate nothing but a healthy baby and delivery so we are ecstatic!
The ride home was pretty long, there wasnt much spoke between Sam, Linds and I as there was such a rollercoaster of emotions thrown at us today. Linds was exhausted mentally, at least, and I could tell by her body disposition. I have learned early on in our marriage that when she gets like this it’s best to ask your 2-3 well-being check questions and then just back off and let her be. I called my parents to inform them of our daily events and they were excited to hear the positive news and they saw right through the difficult things for Lindsay and I. Part of that is because they don’t have to go over to the hospital and spend Friday, July 3rd, a national “holiday” getting chemo or transfusions but most of it is because they are eternally optimistic and positive with this. They have both given me such encouraging words and thankfully raised me right to show me what it takes to be strong in difficult times (challenging and controversial times anyone? 🙂 ) and they want me to stay upbeat and focus on the positives so I can continue to move forward, one step at a time and one day at a time.
We got home and Sam was nice enough to go buy us dinner and deliver it before taking off for her long drive back home, she lives about 50-55 minutes away! After we ate our TGI Friday’s we sat down for a few minutes before Lindsay wanted to go upstairs and lay down in bed with the dogs and I–so that’s what we did. There were a lot of emotions, thoughts, feelings and tears shed and I think we both felt the gravity of the day on our shoulders. It sucked, no other way to put it. There was a lot of positives during this day but there was some looming bad news/situations and they seemed to be smothering the positives. BUT as we talked about last night, we have to sift through this ugliness and thick, muddy mess and find the positives. After holding her close for an hour or so and watching some TV she wanted to go to bed so I gave her one last big hug and kiss and just reminded her, “Tomorrow is a new day, a new attitude and another step forward.” She nodded and kissed me again before laying down to sleep with Joey, (the dog) nestling his little, white, fluffy self in behind her on her pregnancy pillow. He knew what his job was now that I was going downstairs and he jumped at the chance. 😀 Dogs are great animals for times like this, times of struggle; they are eternally and unwaveringly full of so much love and optimism and it’s somewhat infectious and I’m glad we have them both on this journey. Baby Joey will be too when he gets here, they’ll be like two extra parents to him!
I’ll close with a quote and note from one of Lindsay’s favorite authors.
“Ultimately, a great thriller is a roller coaster ride. I like to think that’s a promise I have never failed to keep, and one that I’d say has served my books well.” – James Patterson
I just keep telling myself that this blog; this story of perseverance; this story of strength, hope, faith and positivity; this rollercoaster journey will make one hell of a dramatic thriller some day. Days like today remind me that that day needs to get here sooner, rather than later but until we get to that point, we just have to trust in God’s plan and stay the course that we’re on. Lindsay continues to kick some ass with her treatments and we are doing or best to stay positive through our setbacks. Despite our situation not being the best, we could have it worse and we know that, so we continue to remain thankful and humble to continue forward on or journey with you all. Thank you so, so, so very much for your support, love and prayers! They’re working, so keep them coming! 😀