A bell-ringer day July 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 8:39 pm

You thought I was kidding, didn’t you?  

Nope, I was serious. The last chemotherapy treatment ends with bell-ringing and cheers from everyone in the lab.  It’s an emotional moment. The plaque above the bell is inscribed, “Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle.” What a precious thought that applies to everyone everyday, not just people who are finishing a chemotherapy treatment. God is at work in my world and my life always, and I can experience His miracles everyday, if I am willing to be open to the possibilities.

Everything went right on schedule, beginning at 9 am and ending at 12:45. I’ll have my Neulasta shot tomorrow and make appointments for a scan and the second round of treatment. Avastin is a drug that takes 30 minutes to be infused and has fewer side effects.

I’ll look forward to that. 

When I think of the grim prognosis I had in mid-February, I am amazed at the hope that I feel now at the end of July. That’s what I thought about today. Today would have been a day of celebration anyway, but knowing that the treatment is working and that there is a plan for ongoing control of the cancer is definitely worth celebrating.

Thank you for all of the prayers and encouragement and kindness and notes and food. What an added blessing to be surrounded by a community that has supported me.

“His mercies are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23)—sweet words of possibilities everyday.


Truth July 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 4:08 am

It’s the beginning of the 23rd week since my cancer diagnosis and the 17th week since chemotherapy.

This week should be the end of the taxol-carboplatin-avastin treatment cycle. I have no doubt that my platelets have rebounded enough for the treatment to proceed. What’s next will be some scans to see the extent that the cancer cells have melted, and then the maintenance cycle begins.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that first day of diagnosis. Stage 4 lung cancer is not good news, and I found myself thinking of the dumbest things that weekend after diagnosis in mid-February. I thought about how I needed to clean out closets and the attic and the basement so my girls wouldn’t have to do those things, about giving away my books and materials at school, about preparing the right words to tell everyone what I faced. It was all very focused and non-emotional.

I didn’t think about saying goodbye to the people I love. I didn’t break down and cry, and I didn’t rail against what appeared to be a very scary and short future. I moved step-by-step through the minutes and hours and days. I reminded myself that none of this surprised God and that He had always been faithful in the rough patches of my life. I just breathed in and breathed out, and I prayed to be a good witness of His goodness no matter what. When I felt those moments of panic creeping up, I refused to allow them to take root because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop the fear if they did..

I was in a complete fog most of the time. If I was methodical and unemotional, it was due to utter shock. I kept thinking that someone must have made a mistake. Surely, this was not true.

When the diagnosis changed from stage 4 lung to stage 4 unknown primary, I felt as if I had received a precious gift. Stage 4 is not good, but stage 4 unknown primary somehow wasn’t as bad, for some reason. For the first time, I allowed myself to believe that I would get through this, that I wouldn’t have to clear closets or the attic or the basement (sorry, girls!), that I still had something to offer at school, and that whatever I said was going to be fine. I was still focused and not very emotional, but I was overcome with gratitude for the many, many, many precious words from those I have known through the years.

This weekend I have been struck by the reality that the chemotherapy will not have removed the cancer even if everything has melted away. I will still have stage 4 cancer of unknown origin, and I will continue treatment to keep it contained and prevent it from growing again. I won’t be in remission; I still will face each moment knowing that my life is forever changed.

The truth is that there is no right way to handle this. Focused or disorganized, controlled or emotional, organized or erratic, poised or angry—there is no wrong reaction. The events of this week, both what happened to people I don’t know in Aurora and what is happening to people I love in Brentwood, confirm that life is fragile and there are no guarantees. Our only hope is in the One who died to save us.

Today our pastor taught from Colossians 2:6-8: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

I do want to be a witness of His goodness, to live my life in Him, to be strengthened in my faith, to overflow with thankfulness, and to depend on Him. If having stage 4 cancer of unknown origin does those things in my life, then I can look back on the last 23 weeks and praise God for His unfailing love.

On Thursday morning, July 26, I’ll be posting again after the bell-ringing final treatment, and then I’ll be moving ahead to the next cycle.

At church this morning we sang one of my favorite hymns, “Be Thou My Vision.”  I close with these words from the final verse:

High King of Heaven, thou Heaven’s bright sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won!
Great heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Chemo #6 postponed until Thursday 7-26 July 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 11:02 am

My platelet count was up to 72,000 this morning from 56,000 on Monday. The oncologist said that I can’t have chemotherapy unless the count is over 100,000. My blood just needs time to build back up because it’s weary from the previous 5 treatments. He said there’s nothing I can do to build it up because it just takes time.

I’ll add that building up the platelet count also takes prayer. Prayer, I believe, brought the count up 20,000 in two days. Prayer will bring the count up to a very solid number by next Thursday. My final, bell-ringing, end-of-this-round, chemotherapy treatment #6 will be next Thursday, July 26, beginning about 9 am or so. The lab was almost fully booked on Wednesday, so Thursday it will be. I expect my platelets to be strong enough to be running races and turning cartwheels by then.

Time and prayer. Prayer and time. God will take care of the details and the outcome. I rest in the knowledge that He is faithful and good.


Slight glitch, I hope. July 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 4:03 pm

As usual, I had lab work done today, two days before my chemotherapy appointment. Not as usual, I received a call after I left the office to tell me that my platelet count is down—56. Normal is somewhere in the 200-400 range, or I think that’s what I was told; after hearing that the count was so low, I had trouble listening for details. Three weeks ago, it was 102;  six weeks ago, it was about 180, I think.

Not good. Platelets take a direct hit during chemotherapy and have to build back up before the next treatment. There’s nothing that I can do today to increase the count, but this probably means my treatment will be postponed a week or so. I guess I am glad to know this before Wednesday because I have certainly been getting excited about this last date. Now I have a little time to get adjusted to the fact that there might be a delay.

I’ll post on Wednesday either from the chemo lab if I am cleared for treatment or with a new date for #6.

As always, I appreciate your prayers. Once again, I rest in the knowledge that this is not a surprise to God; it’s just a slight glitch in my schedule, not in His.


Moving into the final weeks… July 2, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 7:23 am

Chemo #5 went well last Wednesday. It’s exciting to know that there is an end in sight for this treatment and that things have proceeded as well as they have. All things considered, my body has tolerated the treatment and managed the side effects better than I expected. I have not experienced the chemo vomiting (Praise God!) in the days immediately after the treatments due to a pre-emptive anti-nausea medicine routine. My primary issue so far has been pain in joints, bones, and nerves that has been more significant with each treatment, probably as a result of the cumulative nature of receiving the drugs. Still, I am doing okay. I am resting and resting and resting some more, staying inside to beat the heat, and feeling so thankful that I am as strong as I am now. Honestly, when this started in February, there was some question as to what July would hold. I am grateful to be doing well.

What’s ahead?  First, I am carefully marshaling my strength to handle the side effects of #5. The last (#6—whoo hoo!) treatment is scheduled for Wednesday, July 18. I’ll then have 3 more weeks to assimilate that round into my body, and I imagine there will be end-of-treatment scans to see what’s happened as a result of the treatment. I feel such confidence that we’ll see evidence of God’s miraculous healing inside my body, by the way, because the scans to date have affirmed that result. Then, the next phase will begin, which I think will involve two things: 1) restarting Femara, the anti-estrogen pill that will reduce the amount of estrogen produced so it won’t feed the cancer, and 2) continuing to take Avastin, one of chemo drugs in the current regimen that cuts off blood flow to the cancer cells. I believe I’ll be on Femara indefinitely and on Avastin for one-two years.  The Avastin will mean regular every-three-week visits to the chemo lab for infusion through my port, but the time period spent at the lab will be much shorter than my usual 4.5 hour procedure. My hair should be back too since Avastin doesn’t have hair loss as a side effect, and I definitely am looking forward to that.

I know that I’m running ahead of myself with this. It’s just wonderful to be at this stage right now, to know that the end is coming, and to trust that God’s hand has been on all of the details. I couldn’t have made it through this without the prayers of so many and without the love and support of my family and friends. When I think about everything that I have experienced, I am overwhelmed by the grace and mercy and hope and love and kindness and generosity poured out on my behalf. You have helped me stay focused on Him, not on my circumstances, and I pray that this focus is engrained on my heart forever.

To close, here’s a picture of the bald Cindy Tripp after treatment #5. When I arrived that morning, the nurse said I looked as if I had a date, to which I replied, “Yes, a date with a chair in the chemo lab!” Several people in the waiting room raised their hands to say that they too had a date with a chair, and we all laughed. The staff at the chemotherapy lab at Tennessee Oncology at Williamson Towers is fantastic. Positive, encouraging, compassionate, proactive, responsive, professional—they have blessed me beyond measure.

What security there is in knowing that nothing happens to me apart from God’s grace and that I can rest in Him: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33: 27).