Category: Carrie-Anne (Page 2 of 13)

At the Cross

Here’s a good read about scalp-cooling for chemotherapy patients and a call for health insurance companies in the U.S. to begin covering the costs for cancer patients. We are blessed / fortunate to be able to afford the cold caps for Carrie-Anne. Not everybody is. And it matters.


I’ve heard most of my life that Jesus died so I don’t have to. I don’t think that’s right. I believe Jesus died to show me how to. How to embrace suffering and rejection, how to faithfully deal with pain, how to understand sacrifice and death as God’s method for saving the world. We see everything much more clearly when we look at the cross.

When you are suffering, it may not always be clear to you why you’re in pain. You may not know the reason you’re suffering. You may be in a terribly dark place of pain and suffering right now and it doesn’t make sense to you. You don’t know the reason or the point. Just like Jesus’ suffering didn’t make sense to his disciples, you can’t figure out why you’re in so much pain.

When you see Jesus on the cross, you can at least know what the reason for your suffering isn’t. When you see how Jesus died, you can at least know what are NOT the reasons for your suffering.

It’s not that God doesn’t love you. He does. Very much. Jesus hung on that cross in agony, but the Father’s love for his Son was not diminished or compromised one bit.

And it’s not that God doesn’t have a plan for you. It’s not that God has abandoned you. The cross actually shows us God’s presence in suffering. And that God is at work and doing marvelous things, eternally significant things, even in your suffering. Even in the middle of your pain and darkness. Even when your suffering doesn’t make sense.

God is present. And he loves you. And he is at work.



Round 16

The final chemotherapy infusion is today, the last round of 16 treatments that began February 3 and have dominated our lives for the past five months. Last night was the final time to pack up the Cold Caps in their plastic sleeves and place them in the freezer for overnight freezing. This morning is the final time to wheel the ice chest into Market Street at 6am to purchase 50-pounds of dry ice — thank you, Rosa, for your smiling face and consistent kindness! For the last time, I have packed the Cold Caps into the ice chest and the frozen gloves, slippers, and eye masks into the auxiliary ice bag. I have counted the Velcro straps, checked the batteries in the infrared thermometer, and packed the ear muffs and electric blanket.








Carrie-Anne is making her morning shake and we’re getting read to put the numbing cream on her port for the last time. We’ll sit down here in a minute and read from Isaiah and the Psalms and then pray thanksgiving to our God. Then we’ll head to T&T to get donuts for the infusion crew, drive down Garfield and navigate whatever construction there is at the Golf Course Road intersection, and pull into the Allison Cancer Center for the last two shots of the Red Devil.








If you had told us in February exactly how these five months would go, we would have taken it in a blink. By God’s grace, Carrie-Anne’s side effects have been minimal and short-lived. The doctors and nurses here and in Houston have been phenomenal in their care and concern. And our support team of Christian friends and family has been a direct blessing from our Lord.

And Carrie-Anne is a rock star. Seriously. She is inspiring everybody who knows her by her determination, her faith, and her cheerful spirit.

We thank God for his faithfulness to us. He has shown us amazing grace and mercy during this trial. And our hearts are overflowing with gratitude and praise.



Penultimate Procedure

Dr. Manny walked into the examination room at the Allison Cancer Center Friday morning and victoriously declared, “The Penultimate Procedure!”

Yes, sir, the next-to-last “Red Devil” infusion intended to completely annihilate any remaining cancer cells hanging around my wife Carrie-Anne. Friday’s treatment was number fifteen out of sixteen total infusions, the third of what I’m calling the Final Four. These last four are the ones doctors and patients in the breast cancer community call the “Red Devil” because of its unmistakable color and its nasty side effects. For Carrie-Anne, these side effects have been minimal and short-lived, relatively speaking. But this past weekend was a little more difficult than the previous two. She was light-headed and woozy all afternoon and evening on Friday. She spent most of Saturday and Sunday completely wiped out physically and wrapped from her waist to her ankles in heating pads and electric blankets to soothe her sore and aching bones. But no mouth or throat sores. And no nausea (the only nausea C-A experiences is driving in the car with me to the oncology hospital while I’m eating a cheese and jalapeno sausage kolache). She is experiencing a loss of appetite for the first time and some minor changes in the way things taste, but none of the worst things we were assured would happen with these final four treatments.

Praise God. He has been very merciful to us, gracious beyond what we deserve. And we are so grateful.

Carrie-Anne has begun losing some of her hair in the past couple of weeks, which makes everything a little more emotional. But she started out with so much, I think she could lose half of it before anyone would notice. We’re still doing the frozen caps on chemo days, still keeping the temperature at 35-degrees below zero and changing them in and out of the dry ice and onto her head every 25-minutes for eight hours. And you can tell from the picture we’ve added another strap, the yellow one, to lock that thing onto her head even a little tighter. And she holds it against her scalp with her hands now, doing everything she can to save that hair. By God’s grace, it’s working better than anyone at the Allison Cancer Center has ever seen. In fact, during our past two treatments, two different doctors have come to the infusion room just to marvel at C-A’s hair and overall health. We keep being told by all the experts she does not look like someone who’s gone through five months of chemo. And, again, we give all the glory to our God.

One more infusion remaining. June 16. Less than two weeks away from completing the treatments and getting most of our lives back. At that time, I’ll write much more about the woman under that awkward cap. She is remarkable in more ways than I realized. And I’ve known her and loved her for 34 years.



So Far So Good

It’s about 11:30am Saturday and the suspense is killing us. Carrie-Anne had her second “Red Devil” chemotherapy infusion yesterday and, so far, she’s experiencing the same low levels of soreness and high levels of exhaustion she endured two weeks ago. But her immune booster goes off at 3:00 this afternoon, and that’s when she gets the hurt. Right now the self-injector is attached to her left arm under a huge bandage and it’s blinking a constant green light to let us know it’s working. The needle is already inside her arm – so weird. At 3:00 it’ll beep a couple of times and then begin administering a booster to speed up her body’s production of white blood cells.

See, this “Red Devil” chemo takes her immune system down to almost nothing – it wrecks everything. So, this booster, 27-hours later, works to help her manufacture white blood cells more rapidly than normal, to build everything back up as quickly as possible. That’s her bone marrow, inside her body’s biggest bones. And she can feel it. The injector works for about 45-minutes, then it blinks red when it’s stopped. We check the gauge on the side – like a fuel gauge on a dashboard – and when it reads ’empty’ we remove the injector and wait for the pain.

If it’s like last time, it’ll build gradually. The soreness will be really noticeable at around 5:00-6:00pm this evening, she’ll be moving more slowly and then not at all by bedtime, and tomorrow morning she’ll barely be able to get out of bed. Then, again, if it’s like two weeks ago, the pain will slowly recede Sunday afternoon into Sunday night, and by the time she goes to bed tomorrow, she’ll be fine.

So far, none of the really awful things that typically happen with this treatment. No mouth or throat sores, no throwing up, no loss of appetite or digestive issues, no loss of taste, and she has complete control of all her functions. And, thanks to the Penguin cold caps, she still has all her hair. Praise the Lord. We know it could possibly change each time. It could be better, worse, or the same each time – it’s all different and nobody really knows. But our God is being very merciful to my wife. And we are grateful.

We did go to M.D. Anderson in Houston on Wednesday this week for a check-up and appointment with our plastic surgeon. Carrie-Anne is testing out really well, everything is on track, and her surgery was confirmed for July 13. This is to remove the temporary stuff and install the permanent stuff – and that’s all I’ll say about that. No drains this time, but it’s still going to take two to three weeks to recover. We’ll be in Houston from July 10-15 for that surgery and she’ll definitely miss the first week or two of work, which starts back up July 19.

I want to thank you again for all the kind attention you are giving Carrie-Anne and our family through this season. We are overwhelmed by cards, gifts, phone calls, texts, and food. Overwhelmed. Another undeniable witness to our gracious God who uses his people to take care of his people.



Defying the Odds

We can’t explain it. We can only, as the Bible directs us, give all the glory and praise and thanksgiving to God. In spite of all the evidence, in the face of incredible odds, in opposition to everything we have been told, Carrie-Anne is not sore and she is not nauseated after receiving her first “Red Devil” chemotherapy treatment on Friday. The chemo and the white-blood cell booster were supposed to knock my wife for a loop. The side effects – throwing up, muscle soreness, bone pain, nausea, loss of appetite, mouth and throat sores, exhaustion – were supposed to take Carrie-Anne out of commission for two to eight days. Well, I am thrilled to report that she is very tired and sleepy but she was never nauseated and her body soreness lasted a little less than 24 hours.

Yes, Carrie-Anne spent a lot of time yesterday and Saturday dozing off and falling in and out of sleep in her chair. She never does that – I’m the one who dozes off on the couch or in the recliner, not her. But no nausea. No pain. We kept expecting it to come. I asked her about it every 20-30 minutes. Are you sore? How are your arms and legs? Nothing! We tried to make the pain come. Does this hurt? Does that feel bad? Nothing!

By 7:00 or 8:00 Saturday night, she was experiencing some soreness. Oh, no, we thought, here we go. By the time she went to bed at around 9:30, she was reporting serious muscle pain. Terrible soreness. When she woke up Sunday morning, it was worse. She told me she felt like she was 110-years old, everything hurt. She was shuffling around the house, slowly, and stooped over. Things had improved a bit by lunchtime yesterday. And by 8:00 last night, it looked like the pain was gone. Like, it’s over. Are you sure you don’t want to throw up or something? Just so it’ll feel more real? I mean, it ended just as quickly as it had come on. This morning, she was completely pain-free. Nothing! She went to work as usual and seems to be having a really normal day.

She still feels really exhausted and overly tired, but she’s not hurting anywhere. The Tylenol and anti-nausea medicines are doing their jobs. And our Lord is being abundantly merciful to her. We are so very thankful to God.

As our Midland oncologist was complimenting Carrie-Anne Friday on her diligence in doing everything exactly right to give her the best results from her chemotherapy treatments, as he was marveling at her commitment to the cold caps and her still luxuriously thick head of hair, he told her in all seriousness, “I don’t think you’re going to be able to save your hair through this next round.”

Carrie-Anne looked right at him and said just as determinedly as you can imagine, “We’ll see.”

You know, this type of “triple-negative” breast cancer Carrie-Anne has is found mainly in African American or American Indian women under 40 – about 90% of all cases. She’s been defying the odds on this all along. And, by God’s grace, she still is today.



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