Dear Family and Friends,
Well, I have some good news and some bad news, so I think I am supposed to ask you—which do you want first? Since I can’t hear your answer, let’s just start with the good news! I recently received the results of my CA125 ovarian cancer tumor marker test and my tumor marker dropped from 166 to 59 after just my first three chemotherapy treatments! That's more than 100 points lower! The two drugs I’m on must be doing something right, and we are praising God for this good news!
Now for the bad news. Yesterday was chemo day number six, and the first news I got was that my blood counts were below the levels required to receive chemotherapy. My neutrophils, those precious little white cells that fight infection, were at .7, and are supposed to be at 1.0 to be safe to get chemo. A healthy person’s neutrophil range is 2 to 7. And my platelets, the wonderful cells that allow your blood to clot if you get a cut or a nose bleed, were at 78, and to get chemo they should be at 80. A healthy person’s platelets would be in the range of 150 to 400. No wonder my nose has been bleeding all week!
Despite the lower than optimal counts, the doc still gave me the chemo, for she deemed the risk of me getting a life-threatening infection or bleeding to death as less than the risk of withholding the chemo and letting my cancer grow. As soon as I’m done writing this Daniel will give me one of those nasty stomach shots (Neupogen), and I must continue them for a total of five days to force my bone marrow produce more blood cells. Two weeks ago when I had these shots for five days I experienced terrible bone pain for that week, so you can imagine I’m not looking forward to how I will feel for the remainder of this week. But onward I will go. A dear friend just gave me a necklace with a silver charm that is etched with the word “Brave.” Will see if I'm worthy to wear the necklace or not this week!
The other piece of bad news I received yesterday is that I am no longer a candidate for the drug Niraparib, which we had prayed the FDA would hurry up and approve, and which they did just approve. Unfortunately the FDA only approved it for ovarian cancer patients who are “platinum sensitive.” I thought I was platinum sensitive, as that was my original diagnosis—“platinum sensitive ovarian cancer.” But since the carboplatin chemo I was on last year stopped working for me in December, as shown by dramatic disease progression, they now deem my cancer to be “non-platinum sensitive.” I hadn’t realized this and had to shed a few tears yesterday over this disappointing news. But now the tears have dried and I ask you to join us in praying for new treatments to be discovered, to pass their clinical trials, and to be available to me, and other women, in the future. And please pray that God will keep me going on my current double chemo regimen until something new comes on the horizon. Thank you!
When you have a chronic or life-threatening illness, you are extra susceptible to depression. And why wouldn’t you be? It IS depressing to feel unwell day after day and to have to think about and tend to one’s health all the time, not to mention if you also have to ponder and prepare for the possibility of a shortened lifespan. Today I read a brief devotional on depression by a woman named Mary Southerland, and I want to share a part of it with you:
“Anything or anyone that makes me desperate for God can be counted as a blessing. Honestly, I hate that truth – but I also love it. God has used it to make my life a living illustration of the wonderful horrible certainty that His power shines best through the broken places. He is drawn to broken people. Broken people are why He came.”
When I can’t be in crowds or hug people I love because I have no immune system, when a drug that held promise to extend my life turns out to not be an option for me, when my bones are about to ache 24/7 for the next five days, and when I can’t plan a trip further out than a month because I don’t know how my health will be—these are the things that make me desperate for God. And how timely for me, that just two days ago we celebrated Easter. A day in which I am reminded that God is alive and with me always. “Lord, please let your power shine through my broken places this week. Thank you that you came for broken people, like me. And please send your strength, hope, peace, and comfort to all my family and friends experiencing their own brokenness this week. Amen.”