It has been a whirlwind couple weeks. Rachel had her last chemo treatment, We had a search and rescue in the snow, another ambulance trip (this time for something new), and we finally (actually, really, pretty sure) scheduled Rachel’s surgery. Plus, at the end of this post is an update from Rachel on where her thoughts are. It’s a lot, but let’s start at the beginning.
We were able to get Rachel in for chemo the day after her scheduled treatment as the snow had melted enough for Seattle to come back to life. It was a surreal experience, to think that this may be the LAST time Rachel ever has to pump her system full of this poison that helped save her life. The last time we feel like we’re on the run from something we can’t see. We will still be returning to Seattle every three weeks, but only for medications that support her system, not tear it down. We don’t know what the future holds but we are excited at the prospect of this chapter in life coming to a joyous close. Maybe the next chapter will suck too, but for now we’re enjoying moving on.
Friday night, Rachel’s brother, cousin, and girlfriend drove up to play in the snow. The next morning, we started putting together the pieces that no one had seen or heard from them since they had left. The stress in the family slowly rose throughout the day as hour after hour rolled by without word. Search parties went out, the sheriff’s department was called in, but still nothing. By 4pm, we were an hour from dark with a forecast of 16 degrees overnight up in the hills. Adam is one of Rachel’s favorite siblings (before I get in too much trouble, she has 11 favorite siblings of course) and things were getting pretty scary. Right about that time, they came rolling out. They had gotten stuck on a trail the night before, slept in a nice warm car, and hiked out the next day without a care in the world…ok, I guess their feet got cold at one point. Anyways, they were fine and Rachel wanted to hug and strangle Adam all at the same time.
An hour later, Rachel finally sat down to eat some dinner. Within a few minutes, she started feeling light headed. Her breathes shortened and her vision began going in and out of focus. Over the next ten minutes, she was laying down, drenched in a cold sweat, and I was having a hard time keeping her conscious. 15 minutes later we had 8 paramedics (hey Justin) in our house and Rachel was getting direct oxygen. The situation wasn’t improving as she continued to fade on the way to the hospital. This time was different. We got the full treatment, lights and siren, and a welcoming committee of 8 doctors and nurses. The oxygen was helping but not enough, it wasn’t until she started getting IV fluids that her color began to return and she was lucid again. About two hours in, the stomach pain we have come to know so well began to return, because apparently this story needs another twist. Thankfully, we were already in the hospital so we immediately got ahead of it with pain meds and spent the night in the hospital…on the same floor we will be returning to in two weeks for recovery from surgery.
The best guess for what happened was a combination of Rachel being dangerously dehydrated and very low potassium levels, which made it difficult to get oxygen to her brain. Coupling that with the massive adrenaline let down from the day and we had a recipe for disaster with our chemo-fatigued wonder woman. For now, we are just thankful that we once again walked out of that hospital in one piece and feeling hopeful for our future. Though the cancer is gone, the affects of our journey still remain.
Alright folks, here’s the breakdown of our plan for the coming weeks!
We are taking a break from Avastin for a total of 9 weeks to have the reattachment surgery. This means we get a break from our weekly Seattle trips until mid April, when we will return every three weeks for the foreseeable future.
Rachel starts a small-dose twice daily oral chemo tomorrow as a form of maintenance to keep any cancer stem cells from starting any trouble.
March 4th we have a PET scan to ensure we are still in the clear for surgery
March 5th, Rachel starts a 2 day cleanse
March 6th Rachel has a colonoscopy. This will actually be her first, so we’re not entirely sure what they will find, though its very possible that there could be pre-cancerous polyps they would remove.
March 7th at 5:30am is THE surgery with Dr. Slovic at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital.
We will be in the hospital recovering for at least the next five days, fingers crossed we get out on Rachel’s birthday (March 12th)! Recovery is vital for this surgery as her colon needs to entirely heal together again before Rachel can consume ANY solid food.
After we get out of the hospital, Rachel will have 5 more weeks of physical recovery where she CANNOT lift more than 20 lbs or she runs the risk of herniating, which would mean more surgery. We’re not going to fudge the numbers on this one, as we found out recently that she actually has a minor hernia from the last surgery that they will need to resolve in this one.
During this time of recovery, I will be reducing my hours at work significantly to be at home with Rachel and the kids more consistently than I was during the 18 weeks of chemo. I’ve got help lined up two days a week so I can at least make an appearance at work to keep things moving there, but my primary focus is to get us through to mid-April with as little stress as possible.
We covet your prayers as we walk forward in faith down this path that has been laid before us. We have learned so much about our own limitations, bad attitudes, weaknesses, and yet we feel strengthened by this process as well.
An Update from Rachel:
Sovereign over Us by Shane and Shane.... it’s amazing and uncomfortable how music can bring back emotions so powerfully.
I don’t know how many times I sang my heart out to this song with tears streaming down my cheeks, on the way to chemo. “Even what the enemy means for evil, you are working for our good, and for your glory”
I’m tempted every day to worry that my cancer is going to come back and that the next scan will show that it has, and every day my Savior meets me where I am, and gently lovingly reminds me of his loving character and nature. That he is always only working for my good, and his glory.
He keeps my heart in perfect peace.
He guards my mind with truth.
Daily surrender of my will
Daily surrender of my children’s future
Daily coming to Christ rejoicing in the hope of my salvation
Daily praising God for his greatness.
TRUTH, SALVATION, HOPE & TRUST.
I am praising God every day for these things.