One down, fifteen to go.
Carrie-Anne endured her first round of chemo yesterday at the Allison Cancer Center here in Midland and I’m posting here mainly to keep everybody up to speed with her treatments. I don’t really have any deep theological thoughts on this thing yet. We’re flooding Carrie-Anne’s blood and bones and organs with a mix of poisons that kills all fast-growing cells – the healthy ones and the harmful ones, the cancer cells that are hurting her body and the normal cells that are supposed to grow quickly – in the hopes that the cancer cells will die and never come back and her good cells will withstand the torture and be okay. Naturally, we’ve got mixed feelings about all that. It’s troubling and complicated.
The first infusion was set to last 90-minutes, but it’s not just sitting in a chair and watching the clock. We’re using what are called “Cold Caps” during her treatments in an effort to save her hair. The caps are made out of a weird gel that must be kept at 35-degrees below zero and tightened onto her scalp with a series of Velcro straps. So on the morning of the treatment, I wheel my Igloo ice chest into the Market Street grocery store, load up with 50-pounds of dry ice, and pack the caps inside. During her treatment, we change out the caps every 25-minutes and continue it for five hours at home after the infusion. On top of that, we’re also rotating frozen gloves and slippers – not quite as cold as the caps – every 30-minutes in an attempt to save her fingernails and toenails. Needless to say, there is no relaxing during the chemo. We roll two ice-chests, an electric blanket, and a whole duffel bag full of accessories into the fusion room, set up shop, and work hard together for a little over two hours. It takes almost five minutes to get a cap out of the ice chest and onto her head, five minutes to get the cap off her head and repacked and, during the fifteen minutes while she’s wearing the cap, I’m rotating out the gloves and slippers. It got easier and better as we went along, but it was a stressful couple hours. More math.
Twenty minutes into the chemotherapy, Carrie-Anne did have a scary reaction. She began experiencing severe chest pains and couldn’t take a deep breath. She described it as stabbing pains through her chest and into her back, through her entire body, and she wasn’t breathing very well. They stopped the infusion, checked her vitals, and shot some steroids into her port. Her oxygen levels and pulse stayed good through the whole thing, but it was a little scary. They contacted our oncologist, gave her Benadryl and Pepcid through her port, waited about 20-minutes, and began the chemo again at a slower pace. Things calmed down, we finished out, and got home at 1:00 in the afternoon.
So far, she’s handled the whole thing really well. No nausea, no pains, no bone soreness. She slept almost ten hours last night and feels a little tired and run down this morning, but she seems to have come through okay. The encouraging thing is that the first treatment is supposed to be the most difficult one. Her body will supposedly get used to these treatments over the coming Fridays and each one will be easier. If that’s the case, we’re in really good shape.
We feel like we’re in really good hands with Texas Oncology and we’re overall very confident in the plan. Earlier this week, Carrie-Anne and I had a serious conversation about going forward with the chemo and came to the quick conclusion that it’s silly to talk about second opinions. We’re with M.D. Anderson! Who are we going to call? We’re also trying to temper our expectations with the hair. The results are mixed and the medical opinions are varied as to the effectiveness of these Cold Caps. If it works, if she only loses 30-percent of her hair, which is the goal, then it will have been worth it. If she loses her hair, we will know we did everything we could to save it. And it will grow back. It always grows back. They can’t guarantee it’ll grow back the same color, but it will grow back.
And, again, we are overwhelmed by the love and generosity we are receiving from our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. Our church family at GCR is simply unbelievable in blowing way past our expectations as they take care of my wife. Food, cards, phone calls, flowers, texts, visits, prayers – it’s over the top. We’re hearing from Amarillo, Mesquite, Fort Worth, and Marble Falls; we feel so much love and are so grateful to God for the wonderful friends he’s given us over so many years.
By God’s grace, we’re in a good place today. Thank you for your love for my wife and our family.