Thursday, November 6, 2008

First Visits at St. Joe's

We started our appointments yesterday at 8:00 a.m. and continued until after 5:00. The first appointment at the OB's ended up being entirely paperwork, but we have another visit scheduled for Monday. We wouldn't have been able to get in until later December, but there was a cancellation.

The surgeons were next. This was my first meeting with these surgeons, and it was very encouraging. Their outlook on the chances for both me and the baby were brighter than what we had been hearing. Their greatest warning was that general anesthesia this early in the pregnancy could cause me to miscarry. They are planning to do another series of biopsies, hopefully before the end of the week, and then surgery would be scheduled for sometime next week. Everyone agrees it would be unwise to delay the mastectomy another 5 weeks to give the baby time to develop more. The head surgeon was so kind to me when she told me not to be hard on myself for not having the arm lump checked out sooner. (The lump that was biopsied has been there for about 2 1/2 years.) She feels like this cancer is relatively recent - probably appeared shortly before I noticed that lump enlarging. She said slim people, especially women who have been nursing, tend to have more prominent lymph nodes. If she was just trying to make me feel better, it worked.

After lunch we met with Dr. Cook, the oncologist. Again, because of a cancellation, we were able to get in right away. Otherwise, we would have had to wait until next week. She was gentle and informative. The information she gave us was even more encouraging. Several types of chemotherapy are available during pregnancy, although radiation is not. Having surgery next week would work perfectly with the timing she has to observe. Surgery requires one month of healing before beginning chemo, and she can't give the chemo anyway until I'm in my second trimester. The timing would work together so I can start treatment at the earliest possible point. She also told me that since my case is very a-typical, it will be presented next week at a conference of surgeons and oncologists at St. Joe's, so lots of doctors will have their eyes on it.

Last of all, we met with the cancer patient navigator. Her whole job is to help us get around the twists and turns of cancer treatment and take advantage of available resources. That also was a very encouraging meeting.

I don't have an official prognosis yet. I am supposed to be having blood work and limited x-rays to help determine how far the cancer has spread. They know it is in at least two lymph nodes, because we can feel those - surgery will tell more. The stage of the cancer will be determined after all the tests, biopsies, and surgery. The oncologist thinks it is at least stage 2, very possibly stage 3. She was calling it a grade 3 cancer (which refers to something different), but then kind of backtracked because of the lack of information on the pathology report.

Our friends and family have been so helpful in every way. Amy Bixby, the first, (there are two of us) got this blog set up for me. Several people have offered their frequent flyer miles to our families so they can come out here. Someone loaned me an iPod Shuffle loaded with Jim Berg's "Quieting a Noisy Soul" and lots of music. A friend gave us a CD changer with remote control for our bedroom. We've received several uplifting CDs. And so many people have written to tell us they are praying. That is the best of all. Until you are facing something like this, you don't know how good it is to know that others are praying.

Ambertose, Xango, hyperbaric therapy, volcanic clay, red grapes, vitamin C therapy, others I can't remember at the moment: these are alternative remedies that have been recommended to us. We are checking them out. I'm already taking Ambertose, Xango, and a friend has a hyperbaric chamber. I won't tell you who it is in case all of you want to come use such an incredible health booster.

I apologize to those who have sent me messages on Facebook. I can't reply to messages consistently because of some kink. But I've read all of them and wish I could respond. And to everyone who has left us notes here - Thank you. You are all a blessing.


Anonymous said...

All of the notes that folks have left for you telling of their prayers for you and your family are a great blessing to me as well. God does not disregard the prayers of His people. He uses them to accomplish His good purposes. He will for sure do that in my firstborn, grandchildren, son-in-law, second born, Daddy and me.
Lots and lots and lots and lots... of love,

Donna said...

You have no idea how much your sweet spirit and attitude are a blessing and encouragement. I know there have been hard moments and will continue to be hard times, but it is exciting to see God's grace prevail in your lives and in your circumstances. May he get all the glory.
Love you and am praying for you without ceasing-- as much as is possible
Love you much!
Donna Ruth

johanna hanson said...

Amy, I have been checking all morning to see the update. I'm so glad that you had some encouraging news. We are praying for all the decisions that need to be made. Your health, and the baby's health are in our prayers as well as the emotional needs of all 8 of you.

Brandi said...

Hope...its the best medicine! Everyone in GA is praying as hard as we can for you. I wish we could be there to do more.

Constantly in my thoughts and prayers,


Bonnie said...

Amy, I'm encouraged by the reports from the doctor. I loved reading about how there were cancellations and you were able to get in to see the doctors when otherwise you would be waiting. That is all the Lord's handiwork.

Love ya!

Anonymous said...


You, Jon, and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. It was very exciting to read your update today and see God's hand in the many details over the last week. Thank you for sharing your journey during this difficult time. It is an inspiring testimony of God's grace when things can be overwelming from a human perspective.

Love, Mike and Rachel

Andy & Sheri DalPorto said...

Dear friend,

We continue to uplift your whole family before the Lord many, many times throughout the day. The children especially asked me to tell you that they are praying for each of your children specifically. We have been studying II Chronicles 16:9 and claiming that God sees and will show Himself strong! We love you and are praying for you!

The DalPortos

Anonymous said...

I had general anesthesia in 3 of my pregnancies--2x in one of them--and be encouraged...the babies did fine.

Praying for you and your family.

Suzy Vanhoose said...

I know you don't know me, but I know one of your friends from college and since I am your age and with children this hits me hard and I have really been praying for you. My heart goes out to you and your family and I'm really rooting for you and pray that this all works out positively for everyone. You have such a sweet spirit about this, I do not know if I could be so positive. But then...God gives grace only in time of need. Keep your chin up...thanks for the updates....I'll be checking and praying.

Anonymous said...

Have been praying and praying for you and you are heavy on my heart. Each time I think of you, I will be praying. Your strength through this and your spirit is amazing to me and I know you are fully relying on our loving heavenly Father. So great to read your updates and so thankful to know you are in HIS mighty healing hand!!!!!!!! He has a plan. Know you are loved!!! Jenny Schmitz (Ema's sis)

Anonymous said...

Praying for you and your family!!

Jessica Baker said...

Amy, we were encouraged by the update. Praise the Lord it doesn't seem to be as bad as we were first told. We will continue to pray for you and your family.

Garland and Jessica Baker

Cynthia said...

Dear Amy,

I've been checking this blog and checking and checking again to see what happened at your appointments. :) Thanks for letting us know so quickly! It's great to hear that the doctors at St. Joe's have been more hopeful about the treatment possibilities. As happens often with missionaries (At least, I imagine it must happen with others. It has with me!), I feel so weak and helpless in my endeavors to encourage or "help" you or others who are so far away; but I am glad to remember that HIS "strength is made perfect in weakness." Joel and I and the kids are praying for you as a family, and the folks in our church are praying for you, too.

Wishing I could hug you but knowing that HIS arms are much more comforting than mine,


Steve and Rhonae said...

We praise the Lord for answered prayer and the obvious finger prints of God through all the cancellations of appointment. We are bringing you and your family before the throne of grace many times a day. The children are praying for you and your children.
The Stodolas