It’s been too long since I last wrote an update! You know, I really did have the best intentions when I set up this blog. 🙂 Allen’s chemotherapy was comparable to a roller coaster. He’d feel okay during the first half of his long treatment week and then by the end of that week, he wasn’t feeling too well (low energy, major food aversions, nausea, etc). Then toward the end of his second week, he’d start to improve and would feel almost normal by the time the third week was over and the cycle started all over again. In all, he did 4 cycles (3 weeks each) of chemo. The third cycle was probably the hardest emotionally, and the last long week (week 10) felt like a huge accomplishment once it was completed! Allen’s parents were visiting us when he finished that week so they went with him to treatment and he and I cried together once he came home. It felt so incredibly good to be past the “hardest” part of chemo. I’ll never forget that moment. He is so incredibly strong.
Allen’s last day of chemo was just two days before Christmas – December 23. What an amazing gift! 🙂 We had an incredible Christmas with our kids and my mom visiting. A few days later, my sister came into town to see us and then we were able to see Allen’s brother and his family after that! It was a great holiday for us!
Allen had his final CT scan a couple days before the New Year. They scanned everything from his brain to his pelvis. The next day, we met with the doctor and learned that everything in his scan was clear! Yay! That was a huge blessing. We were still waiting to hear his tumor marker numbers from blood work that had been done, but they were so low the time before that the doctor was confident Allen had beat cancer. We were so happy about that! The only piece of news we didn’t hope to hear was that the masses in his back and neck were still there. They had gone down in size considerably but were still large enough to require surgery. We knew this could be a possibility but were praying that if it was the Lord’s plan, the masses would be completely gone and we wouldn’t have to face the surgery. Sometimes our plan is not the Lord’s plan, and the only thing we can do is face it in faith.
Allen’s surgery is now scheduled for February 18. Our oncologist discussed with us the delicacy of the surgery, specifically with the removal of the mass in Allen’s back. Not only is it a difficult place to access, but there is a cluster of nerves right in that area that only a specialized surgeon should even attempt to navigate. Our oncologist recommended two medical centers that specialize in RPLND surgeries and we selected Indiana University where one of the world’s top RPLND surgeons is on staff. We were able to secure him as our surgeon and feel great about our decision! He has requested that a specialized head and neck surgeon perform the surgery simultaneously so both can focus on what they do best- one on the neck and the other on the back. We really do feel at peace when we think about what good hands we’re in! Of course we’re nervous about the surgery and don’t like to think about it too much, but we know it will all work out! Allen’s recovery will be about 5 days in the hospital and then another 4-5 weeks at home. We’re hopeful that this surgery will be the last big hurdle for us to clear before Allen is in recession. If they do discover any active cancer cells during the surgery, however, that will mean 6 more weeks of chemotherapy. Honestly, that doesn’t sound like something we’re up for right now. It’s been crazy hard to go through all of this already, but I know it’s the Lord’s will and it is making us stronger. I’ve never felt so many emotions, ups and downs- and I’ve probably never depended on the Lord and His earthly angels so much. We’ve been blessed with so much support from family and friends, it’s incredibly humbling. I’ve learned so much from their love and service.
Thank you for praying for us. There are times when I haven’t had the energy to get up and do what needed to be done, but somehow I did it. And other times when I felt like crying or falling apart but somehow kept it together. I know it’s because of the strength we’ve received from your prayers, love, and concern. We’re so blessed to have crossed paths with so many amazing people! To some it may seem crazy that we’ve moved around so much and are far away from family, but we’re learning a lot about ourselves and are growing closer as a family. And all the while, we get to meet some fantastic friends in each place that we live!
I know my Savior loves me and knows what I’m going through. He knows Allen and my kids. He knows each one of us! I truly would feel hopeless and lost if I didn’t know the purpose of life and have a testimony of why I am here and why we go through trials. I love listening to the words of our prophet, President Monson, who truly is a messenger of Jesus Christ. When I listen to the words of the prophet and apostles during General Conference, I can feel the spirit testify to me that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s church on the earth today. It’s such a blessing to me to know that and to be fortified through their messages of faith and hope. The Lord loves each one of us and knows us. He wants to bless us have us return to live with Him someday. I’m grateful for His life, example, and ultimate sacrifice. I’m so grateful that we can grow closer to Him as we lean on Him and learn from Him. I hope I can share His message with those I know who are searching for truth and have a desire to know of His love for them personally! I’m happy to answer any questions of those who aren’t familiar with my faith, so please don’t be shy! You can see I’m not too shy about sharing my feelings and beliefs. Thank you for being a friend to me and to Allen! We’re so grateful for you!