Dear Family and Friends,
Gabrielle here. Yesterday promised to be an awesome day. We were going to go out to dinner with Renee, the weather report was for afternoon clearing, and Daniel and I were sitting on the Bremerton ferry on our way to a cool mini-golf course when my oncologist's office called. Bad news part one: my white cell counts are too low to get chemo this week. My segs, the part of the white cells that allow you to fight an infection are in the 400s. Normal range is 2000 to 7000. I am at very high risk for infection right now and need to avoid all crowds, children, sickness, and germs this week. This is particularly difficult with Steve having a terrible cold! After getting this news yesterday, we cancelled our dinner out with Renee (bummer) and Steve came home from work and put on a surgical mask for the evening to help keep me safe. What a good husband. :-)
Bad news part two: my CA125, the cancer tumor marker in my blood, went up for a second time. It has gone from the 15s to the 17s to the 18s over the last three weeks. I am still under 20, and in the NORMAL range, but because of the "slight" upward trend, which can be worrisome, my doctor suggested a CAT scan on Monday to hopefully, put our minds at ease. Of course, just her suggesting that does the opposite of putting my mind at ease!! She wouldn't let me get the CAT scan today (Friday), because it's too dangerous for me to be at the hospital today, where sickness abounds, with my counts so low.
What are we doing about the low counts? First and foremost, praying! But also, the doctor is not giving me neupogen shots this week. She wants my body to create its own white blood cells which are stronger and last longer than the ones the shots can produce. Then hopefully, I can get my last double chemo next Friday and we will follow that with a week of the shots to enable me to get the last two single chemos. That is the plan, and I am glad God "knows the plans He has for me...plans to give me a hope and a future!" (Jer. 29:11)
Remember in the Sound of Music when the Von Trapp children go to the Abbey looking for Maria and the sister who answers the door says "I'm sorry children, you can't see Maria because she's in seclusion?" Well that's what my week ahead looks like--I'm in seclusion! I am disinfecting things that Steve touches (like this computer I'm typing on got disinfected before I started) and staying on the other side of rooms from him, while basically avoiding people in general. I will still be going outside for walks, of course. Just not to the grocery store or gym or, very sadly for me, to the Wellspring Luncheon at SPU on Tuesday. I am so proud of my program coordinator, Rachel, who planned all the details of this luncheon on her own in my absence, and am just sick (well, let's not think about me getting SICK) about missing it!
I want to close with thanks to those of you who sent cards and notes this week, thanks to my friend Patricia who bought me lunch and gave me great dark chocolate, and to my friends with whom I had good walks/talks this week. Special thanks to our friend and financial advisor, Howard, who came to my home for our meeting this week and reassured me that despite the high cost of battling cancer, we are not broke yet!!
But also, I want to close with a special note I received yesterday, on the day I got all the discouraging news. It is from my friend Loretta who is a six-year cancer survivor. Here is what she said: "Dear Gabrielle, Seven years ago you sent me this wonderful, encouraging card, filled with the anticipation of summer and life getting back to "normal." I give these words back to you with praise to our Lord that His love and faithfulness is the same yesterday, today, and forever!" And here is what I said to her, in that card from 2006, that she copied back to me yesterday: "Dear Loretta, This card is to remind you that a month from now, your treatments will be done and you will be relaxing by the lake with the warm sun on your face, enjoying a beautiful and healthy summer! I have been inspired and encouraged by your faith, hope, and strength through this past year's trial. God shines through you and you are a blessing to me. Praise Him for His compassion and mercies which are new every morning."
Please pray with me that despite the setbacks of this week, that I will be DONE with cancer and chemo a month from now, enjoying a beautiful healthy summer, just like Loretta was. Let's pray that my cancer will not recur, just like Loretta's has not. And let's give thanks to God for the blessing of friends who come alongside us in our trials, and for His love, faithfulness, compassion, and mercies which are new EVERY morning!
P.S. I beat Daniel by one point at golf yesterday, but he got his second hole in one. I have yet to live up to our team name "Hole-In-Onederfuls," but am confident that I will one day!