Thursday, January 6, 2011

Medical Update: Chemotherapy #4

Erin is deep in her post-chemotherapy slumber, so I thought I would take a few minutes to provide a medical update...

Erin went to her oncologist for her fourth chemotherapy treatment yesterday. After the difficult recovery process she had after her previous treatment, neither of us were looking forward to returning to begin that process once again. But as the fourth of her six treatments, at least this would be the beginning of the end of chemotherapy. As hard as the recovery might be, at least we would be able to see "the light at the end of the tunnel."

Well, that tunnel has gotten a bit longer. After consulting with a highly respected oncologist in Dallas, our doctor recommended three changes to Erin's chemotherapy plan:

1. That Erin change her "A-Class" drug from Epirubicin to Adriamycin. Both drugs perform the same essential function, but the Adriamycin is older and typically has more severe side-effects.
2. That Erin supplement her primary treatments of Cytoxin, 5FU, and Adriamycin with an additional dose of 5FU the week after the primary treatment. This is the least potent of the three drugs, so she should not experience too many side-effects, but it will mean an additional trip to the oncologist and a more prolonged recovery process.
3.That Erin extend her current chemotherapy cycle with an additional chemotherapy cycle of one drug, once a week, for twelve weeks. The drug she will take (Taxol) is usually fairly mild in terms of its side-effects, but this too means many more trips to the oncologist and a much longer chemotherapy process. We thought Erin would be totally done with chemotherapy on February 16th, but now she will not be done until May 18th.

It isn't necessarily rare for a cancer patient's chemotherapy plan to be adjusted as the treatment progresses. But it is hard to suddenly have your plan extended by three months. Emotionally, we were looking forward to being done with the difficulties of chemotherapy, but now we have to wait several more months for the end to come. Practically, we had already begun making plans for Erin's surgery (which I'll give an update on in a future post) in late-March and for some family vacation time this Spring and Summer. But now surgery will likely be in mid-June and our vacation plans are somewhat up in the air.

You would think that it would be a bit overwhelming to learn about so many changes all at once. For me (who, like any husband, does not enjoy watching his wife suffer), these changes could be really discouraging. And for Erin (who loves to be able to know and control her schedule well in advance), these changes could be just plain frustrating. But just as He did when we heard Erin's original diagnosis, God has provided both of us with a peace that literally passes understanding.

God was not surprised by these changes and His faithfulness and goodness towards us have not changed. He has planned this, and all things, for our good and His glory. Sure, we don't understand the details of how this will work out for our good (or why "our good" could not have been to never deal with cancer in the first place), but we trust Him as our perfectly wise and loving God. As we have said multiple times in the past three months, God has supplied, is supplying, and will continue to supply all of our needs in Christ Jesus our Lord (Philippians 4:19).

Speaking of God supplying our needs, I shouldn't end without mentioning that so far it looks like Erin is tolerating the side-effects of this treatment a bit better than last time. Please continue to pray that she would get the rest needs to make a good recovery before she heads back for her next treatment on Monday (1/10).

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7