CHEMO ROUND SIX: EXHAUSTED #danielkickscancer
You probably saw that last week we received awesome news of Daniel’s recent PET scan. 80-90% of cancer cells gone! Yay! Double yay!
Today’s chemotherapy infusion marks the halfway point in the twelve rounds of Daniel’s treatment plan. As you know, this is most often referred to simply as “chemo.” Please note my intentional use of official medical terminology. lol. #imlearning
I’m actually hesitant to share with you my thoughts from today. Our journey, you see, seems so mild when compared to what others are going through. I know some right now with cancer who are in such serious fights for their lives. I also know people with loved ones whose cancer has taken their lives. I ache for them. I know God is sovereign with a plan per person. His love is big and it’s consistent. I know He is worthy to be praised and trusted. No matter. But, I know their pain is recent, real, and raw.
What I’m about to share from our day of Chemo Round Six seems better spoken privately, intimately on my back porch with friends where I would so easily discern what to share, what not to share, and when to just be a listener. But, here I am exposed, with a clear calling to open our hearts, allowing you all to peer in… and just share our story through photos and journaling, leaving the results up to how God chooses to move on the heart of each of you reading. May God wrap His strong and gentle arms around you, encourage you, strengthen you, chisel you, challenge you, and may you run to him wherever you are in your journey in life. He loves you, you know.
Although we had rejoiced at “the most favorable news” from the PET scan, Daniel, his fiancee Gabi, and I were rather surprised that days later, we all found ourselves EXHAUSTED. We were WEARY. Three more months of chemo.Then 22 rounds of proton therapy (radiation). Do the pros of radiation outweigh the cons? When could Daniel and Gabi safely schedule their wedding date? Life was put on hold for this recent college graduate and his future bride.
Today’s chemo had Daniel curled up in his reclining chair, feeling the most nauseous yet, terrible taste in his mouth and gut, hungry but nothing sounded good, and just wanting to curl up, be warm, and be still. The smells just upon entering the chemo floor got to him… and then the scents of rubbing alcohol and saline used to sanitize the port, making way for the iv lines. He even wore a mask for the first time, but that nausea was relentless.This was also his first time to request one of their wonderful warm blanket.
First time visitors this chemo included his Granny and Papa and Gabi’s brother Bradford who perhaps skipped school, but you didn’t hear that here. Wait. You just did. Daniel’s big brother John stopped by, bearing the only thing Daniel would consume during his first seven hours of the day – an acai smoothie. It was a relief to finally see him stomach something. Even though the room was full, we all recognized the need for calmness and sat quietly doing our own thang or talked softly amongst ourselves.
We had a large insulated warmer bag filled with Chick Fil A sandwiches. And this time, also included were warm chocolate chip cookies. All donated by Chick Fil A. Wow!! Gabi, Bradford, and I handed these out to the chemo patients and their caregiver, making way for precious conversations. Each experience leaves me with different memories. This time we were moved to tears and laughter. One lady had a full head of hair last time and not a lick this time. Scroll through these photos and read each caption. She gave me permission to share her story and quote her on something that made us crack up! Two people gave me gifts that took considerable time. I mean, it’s beginning to be like a club up on that there chemo floor. #mamalike
I was glad to have Bradford experience this for the first time. I could see his fear lessen as he became more comfortable with hearing direct conversations where the taboo words cancer, chemo, prognosis were freely spoken. I wanted him to feel this and to see that God is good. I wanted him (and you all) to see first hand the different situations encountered, variety of personalities, approaches, attitudes, and the ways people choose to share. I wanted him to leave changed. I know I’ve been changed. I hope you feel the same way.That, through peering inside this journey of ours, you’re changed. Seeing cancer differently. Trusting God more. Attacking your own fear head on. Reaching out to others more. Lightening someone’s load. Feeling more confident in #lovingotherswell
Come experience Chemo Round Six with us as you scroll through these photos and read the accompanying captions.
Rhonda peaceinthemidstofitall ellis
With permission, I share with you these beautiful ladies. A mother on her second chemo and her supportive daughter. When we walked into their room, we were met with an infectious smile and bright sparkly eyes as she immediately yanked off her colorful turban exposing complete baldness. “Look at you! You are totally rocking it!” We laughed together. Her daughter said she had bought a variety of 20 hats, scarves, turbans, and whatever head attire she saw that her mother could choose from. I asked about losing her hair. She freely shared her touching story, and in a matter of minutes we were moved from tears to the loudest laughter of the day.
After her very first treatment, big chunks of hair fell out. She described shaving her head, but choosing to leave the long hairs on top. Then she added…
“I was trying to keep the Donald Trump Comb Over, but looked in a mirror and knew I had to let it go.” #knockmeoverwithafeather We cracked up. The story continued with their deeply personal experience of shaving her entire head, leaving her completely bald and feeling exposed.
I was thankful she allowed us to peer in to how they handled this private, dreaded experience. In her transparency, she helped us. Daniel’s hair is getting thinner and thinner. His time may be here soon.
Dr. Zaiden, Daniel’s medical oncologist, does a check up and gives the blood work report prior to each chemo.
We received great news from the PETscan that Daniel’s cancer, after 4 chemo treatments, was 80-90% gone. We were so excited the oncologist agreed to a selfie. lol
End of Chemo Round Six. Six more to go. This photo will be etched in my mind as the memory of this day. Nauseous. Curled up. Smoothie, the only food he could stomach.
This is how patients travel to the restroom during their long hours of chemo. #haverollingIVwilltravel
Older brother John came by for a visit. He brought a super sized acai smoothie which was the only thing Daniel had until long after chemo was over. #hitthespot
Granny and Papa came to visit for their first time. It was great for them to be able to see this setting, and with this being an enclosed space free of responsibilities that we would tend to at home, we were able to just sit and talk, hearing some really sweet stories we’d not heard before. (like how Papa was a babe magnet. I’ll leave it at that.)
This can be a sweet time of talking or just sitting quietly – depending, of course, on how the patient is feeling.
During chemo, patients can really do whatever they want to do. Some knit, some read, some do crossword type puzzles, some sleep, some listen to music on their headsets, some watch TV, some talk the whole time, some are on their phones playing games or reading articles, some texting,… and here we demonstrate for you, that some are on their ipads. Here Daniel and his Granny and Papa talk while he’s looking up something online for them. I think he’s listing their antique car on Craigs List or something.
This photo, shown with permission, summarizes Daniel’s sixth chemo. Six more to go after this. Three more months. The thought itself is exhausting. But, hey, see that straw… he was thankful to have that smoothie. He was still kind, gentle, with his usual great sense of humor and random motions and expressions, but was quieter and more still. #danielkickscancer
We handed out Chick Fil A sandwiches and cookies until we ran out. I think we had 35 of each. Thank you to Chuck Campbell, operator of CFA at Rivercity in Jacksonville for continuing to generously donate to those having chemo and their supporting loved ones. We enjoyed talking with this mother/daughter duo. (the mother didn’t think she looked maahhhhhhvelous enough to be in the photo, so agreed for me to get her feet in it. LOL.) I was so touched by the way these two laughed and talked and cried together. The mom said, “This is my daughter. She’s my BEST FRIEND.” The daughter enthusiastically shook her head, saying she felt the same way.
ET Phone Home
We wanted to bless her with a chicken sandwich and a warm chocolate chip cookie from Chick Fil A, which she gladly accepted. But she immediately picked up a scarf from her bag and said, “I’ve been given a second chance at life, and I want to give to others. Here, I made this for you.” #prayforher
Let me tell you about our next door neighbors… meaning, a curtain separated our chemo spaces. These two were delightful and encouraging. They shared how much they enjoy this time together and their long journey with battling cancer. So upbeat. Big smiles. They play golf together, walk together, fight cancer together, and get this… check out their shoes… They have matching tennis shoes. I asked, “Can I take your photo and share about your matching shoes?” They smiled, “Of course.”
Daniel and his fiancée Gabi, doing life together… through thick and thin. #danielkickscancer Know what I think about my future daughter-in-law? #mamalike
This is where the nurse cleans the port with alcohol and then uses saline to flush the port before beginning chemo. This is the part that sets the nausea in motion. So, today, here you see Daniel wearing a mask for the first time to try to offset the smell.
On the way to MD Anderson for chemo, we stopped by ChickFil A and as has become our routine, a photo is taken with some of the team members. This time we asked for some of those responsible for making the sandwiches and cookies to come out of the kitchen and be in the photo. Click LIKE to thank them!! They are amazing and ask about Daniel and the other patients each time we come in there
I forgot to take a photo of mother/son together during chemo as is my intended goal each time. So, he agreed to one in the car before heading home. Thanks for continuing to pray for Daniel… and for each of these patients and their caregivers that you see in these photos. #godisgood #doyouknowHim