After coming back from Florida, and knowing the diagnosis, we had a few steps to complete before finalizing Allen’s treatment plan and undergoing chemotherapy. The first step was to meet with the urologist and schedule a surgery. We met with the doctor on a Tuesday and Allen had surgery two days later. He was able to come home the same day and recover over the weekend before meeting with the oncologist again to set up a treatment plan. The oncologist laid out the following treatment plan:
- First week: Chemotherapy daily (Mon-Fri) for approx 3-4 hours
- Second week: Chemotherapy 1 day
- Third week: Chemotherapy 1 day
- Repeat this cycle 4 times for a total of 12 weeks
These chemotherapy treatments were scheduled to start the following Monday (October 6) and if all went as planned and stayed on schedule, they would be completed two days before Christmas. The doctor explained Allen’s staging (stage 3b) and that we were in the intermediate risk zone because his hCG levels were fairly high (22,000… or about 8 weeks pregnant, lol). Even in the intermediate risk zone, the doctor told us that we should expect Allen’s hCG levels to begin dropping with the chemo treatments and both masses to go away completely. We discussed the types of medications that would be used during treatments and how that may affect Allen, and we also discussed what would happen at the end of all of this… If the PET/CT scan comes back clear and both masses are completely gone, Allen will be cancer free and we can return to living a simple, normal life. This is what the doctors expect will happen. If, for some reason, the PET/CT scan comes back clear but some of the masses remain in the neck and/or abdomen, those will have to be surgically removed to get rid of teratoma that could potentially be remaining in the masses. We do not hope for surgery since there are major arteries and nerves in those areas that make it difficult to perform surgery. The last scenario is that the PET/CT scan comes back showing that some cancer still remains. At that point, we would need to do an additional 6 weeks of treatment to try and get rid of the cancer completely.
After we had all of our questions answered, we set up an appointment to meet with the nurse the following day and then headed over to another area of the hospital where Allen was scheduled to have a breathing test. (It’s harder than it sounds, lol!) We were glad to leave the hospital and return home that day. The chemotherapy treatments were starting sooner than we had planned, but we were anxious to get the ball rolling and start fighting this thing.
Allen was still recovering from his surgery at this point and his back pain really started to intensify over the next few days. He said it was the first time he could really feel the cancer affecting him and invading his body. We were hoping he would be able to return to work for a few days before his treatments started, but he was in so much pain that he had to mostly stay at home and work from there.
Just as if the Lord had planned it that way, General Conference was the weekend between Allen’s recovery from surgery and the beginning of his chemo treatments. We were really looking forward to being enlightened and uplifted! Our kids were excited to listen and watch with us as we turned on the TV to hear the words of our prophet, President Monson, and many other inspired leaders. I really felt the Lord’s love for me as I tried to help the kids listen and understand the messages that were being given about our Savior and becoming more like Him. It was a stressful weekend because Allen was in so much pain and really couldn’t help very much, but it was also rewarding to feel like I was trying my best to listen and help my children listen. I love going back to the talks from General Conference and listening to them or reading each of them before the next session of General Conference. It really is a blessing in my life and helps me understand ways that I can become better and find strength to endure whatever trials the Lord may give me.
Since moving to Louisiana, far, far away from family, I can see how the Lord is blessing us by placing amazing people in our path. We have had so many friends reach out to us and support us in so many ways! One of these amazing people is my sweet friend, Jennifer. We were talking on the phone and fell into deep conversation as we usually do (I love her for that!). She has experienced her own heartache and her own set of trials, just as all of us have. I expressed to her my concern for my kids. I didn’t want them to see me sad and discouraged or overwhelmed and stressed. I wanted to preserve their childhood as much as possible and allow them to just be kids through all of this! But she was wise enough to help me see that I cannot carry that heavy load. It is wonderful for me to try and be upbeat and keep their lives free from sadness as much as possible, but there are going to be times when I can’t cover up the truth and the difficulty of the situation, and that is just fine. This experience is not just for me. It is not something that only I am supposed to grow from, but my kids are also supposed to grow from it as well. I am grateful that she helped me see the benefit that will come to them as they are shaped and molded by this trial in their life. Heavenly Father knows what they need and how they will learn and grow from watching their daddy battle cancer.
I’m so grateful for my family. I have the sweetest kids who are so aware of me and what I’m feeling. They are sensitive and kind hearted. I know that all of us will grow stronger through this if we continue to be faithful and lean on our Savior for support, comfort, peace, and love. He is the one who has felt our pains, sorrows, sicknesses, and griefs.