The Suburb Woman
One Day At A Time
Posted on November 10th, 2013

From Jesus Calling … “Sit quietly with Me, letting all your fears and worries bubble up to the surface of your consciousness. There, in the Light of My Presence, the bubbles pop and disappear. However, some fears surface over and over again, especially fear of the future. You tend to project yourself mentally into the next day, week, month, year, decade; and you visualize yourself coping badly in those times. What you are seeing is a false image, because it doesn’t include Me. Those gloomy times that you imagine will not come to pass, since My Presence will be with you at all times.”

The initial start to treatments was rough. In one night it was as if our legs were knocked out from beneath us.

Mike has been doing great. Other than some memory issues, over the past couple of weeks we couldn’t be happier with his progress.  Names escape him, but he worked with Grace one evening on her math – Algebraic slopes – and never missed a beat.  He was reading again, resting and it was fairly calm. The conversations have been enjoyable as we talk about memorable times and discuss topical subjects of interest.

We met with the radiation oncologist to see his treatment plan on Thurs., Nov. 7, 2013. We’re still in awe of science and medicine and what is possible now with treating cancer. Dr. Boersma showed us the 30-treatment plan. The first 23 will include the use of 10 beams strategically positioned in the areas of his tumor bed to attack the nonvisible cancer cells they know still linger.  There is a 2 cm overlap to fight additional cells. The last seven they call “boost” treatments – which will be highly focused with only a 1 cm edge.

Dr. Boersma explained the treatments are close to Mike’s optic chiasm, which is the part of the brain the optic nerve crosses. No matter how careful they are there will be some scatter radiation that will affect this area.  His eyesight should be fine, but it could possibly make him susceptible to cataracts in the future. The other area she is protecting is his left eardrum.

Mike came out of the first 20-minute treatment and said, “I didn’t feel a thing.” We headed upstairs to get his flu and pneumonia shot that is critical going through the holiday season. The chemotherapy will lower his immune system making normal infections possibly life-threatening. One of the most serious instructions Dr. Geister has given is we are to call if he has a fever over 100 degrees.

On the way out we stopped by the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute of Oklahoma’s onsite pharmacy to pick up the Temador (chemotherapy) and Zofran.  By 2:30 p.m. he started to complain of a headache behind his left eye.  We thought it was possibly caused from the first treatment. He’s taken very little of hisTylenol 3, but we decided the headache deserved a dose. At 9 p.m. we started the first round of chemotherapy. He complained the headache was back and rated it a seven on a scale of 1-10.

By 10 p.m. Mike started running a low-grade fever.  We told ourselves it had to be the flu or pneumonia shot.  By 10:30 p.m. he had uncontrollable chills and nothing could warm him.  I noticed his speech declining and he had visible swelling in his left temple area. He was mixing and choosing the wrong words. 

By 1:30 a.m. his fever was 100.5 and I called the doctor.
There was concern because he shouldn’t be reacting to the first treatment like that. The doctor said to give him a Tylenol 3 and a couple of Advil, but if the fever continued to rise we had to go straight to the emergency room. 

At 3:00 a.m. the fever broke.  Friday morning he was pale and weak, but no fever. 

At the second treatment, Dr. Boersma decided to put Mike on a 10-day round of Decadron (of which I loathe the side effects of the steroids, but it helps with the swelling).  He was able to rest Friday afternoon and after the first dose of Decadron his headache subsided. I was fearful of what Friday night would bring with the second round of chemotherapy.  I laid awake most of the night, but thankfully the evening was peaceful for Mike.

Saturday was better. He spent time outside in the beautiful weather and was able to get a little exercise working in the backyard with me.  Some friends came by to visit last night and we enjoyed the fire and great conversation. Last night, chemotherapy went fine.  Mike rested fairly well. The steroids make him restless, but no nausea or headache.  The lingering affect has been a setback with his speech.  However, unlike before, it’s more frustrating for Mike because he’s aware of his struggle to find and spell words.

The highlight of the weekend was a package arriving from Christy’s Hats in London containing the black felt hat Mike wanted for the winter. He’s expected to lose some of his hair as the treatments progress so it will keep his head warm.  I did talk him out of the “Pork Pie” version in case those of you who watched Breaking Bad were wondering. Ha Ha!

Cancer is a monster no matter what form it comes in. In an effort to educate myself I attempt to read current research on Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). Even when I try to separate myself emotionally from the educational information I’m reading I constantly feel as if my heart is breaking into a thousand pieces. Not just for what we’re dealing with, but what this disease does to people in the prime of their life – the shock of the initial diagnosis, the uncertainty of treatments, the fear of re occurrence, and the horrific way it grinds out a life is unmerciful in so many ways.

Even in searching for survivor stories the majority are dotted with additional surgeries and treatments years later. I can count on one hand the miraculous stories I’ve heard of people who are years past their diagnosis with no reoccurrence.  They live life with such purpose. 
It’s always been hard for me to live in the present and not leap ahead to next week, next month and next year.  Mike and I are both Type A planners. But as has occurred so many days since this journey started on Sept. 26, the devotional “Jesus Calling” confirmed what we know and haven’t quite embraced – One day at a time. 

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