Cycle 7 May 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 8:38 pm

The past week has been a whirlwind in some ways and in others like the eye of the hurricane (for those not familiar with the term: the eye of a hurricane is an eerily quiet and still time before an area is hit with equally strong forces from the opposite direction).

Since my oncologist took me off the chemotherapy drug carboplatin after cycle 4 due to low platelets, I have experienced the daily “white noise” of intestinal side effects because I also had no pre-meds before treatments. It’s constant but nothing for me to complain about.

My scans on Friday ran the menu of options: head, neck, and abdomen/pelvis. Since I’ve had fairly constant headaches (unusual for me) for the last month, head scans were ordered to rule out any head issues. We can now consider them ruled out: I have a brain but no evidence of metastasis of cancer cells in the brain. Yes!

The oncology team has been tracking only three tumors during this trial: one in my neck, one in the center of my chest, and one in my abdomen. This time all showed slight or no significant shrinkage, which is to be expected since the sizes of the tumors are approaching the normal range of lymph nodes. This is good since there is no expectation of the tumors disappearing, and so shrinking to a normal range is great.

My doctor, however, wants to investigate the possibility of zapping with radiation the neck tumor, which is now considered to be a conglomerate of two nodes, to see if that might be beneficial, but no decision has been made yet. [Disclaimer: As usual, all medical information is my interpretation/memory of what was said, and that most definitely does not imply that my interpretation/memory is accurate.] Since my visit on Tuesday, my mind has gone wild with the concept of radiation, and that doesn’t necessarily sound good but may in fact be good. I’m actually glad he’ll be making that recommendation, not me, and I’m glad that I don’t have to agree to anything yet.

For now, I am finished with the 6-cycle trial and will continue with one infusion of the study drug every 21 days as long as the cancer cells are not growing. I don’t have to go to the lab on day 8 or 15 for blood draws; I just have to be at Sarah Cannon second floor every 3 weeks for labs and infusion. My platelets, white cells, and red cells continue to run low because normal blood cells don’t get used to chemotherapy; hopefully, they can recover within each 21-day cycle. At heart, I am thrilled that this study drug is WORKING and that the infusion is keeping the cancer cells and the C-125 ovarian cancer marker under control.

I started this post by stating that I feel in the midst of a whirlwind and also in the eye of a hurricane.

The whirlwind is typical of life at the end of a school year, with the many events of graduation. More than ever, I am blessed to be a part of the Brentwood Academy community and of the celebrations of BA’s class of 2014. Baccalaureate:; graduation: The end of year is always a whirlwind, but it’s also a time to hear the still quiet voice of God, and this year He spoke clearly to my heart.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:11-13, NIV)

That question is mine too: What am I doing here? That’s the question in the middle of the whirlwind, in the stillness of the eye of the hurricane, when I know that it’s merely the calm in the middle of the storm. I am going to choose to ignore the radiation questions, the slowness-of-tumor-shrinkage questions, the discomfort questions, and I will choose to acknowledge that God is here in the gentle whisper in a way that He is not present in the powerful wind, the earthquake, and the fire. I don’t know how long I’ll be in the eye of the hurricane. I don’t know how long things will be quiet and uneventful. I do know that God is in the eye of the hurricane, and I know that His is the still quiet voice that reminds me that I am not forgotten.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I still must trust that God is real and in control regardless of the results. This world is not my home, but it is where I am now. How blessed I am to be a daughter of the Lord.

Cycle 8 labs and infusion are June 16. I know that He has that date on His calendar for me, and those results are already known to Him. His still small voice reverberates in my spirit, and I trust that He knows what I am doing here. I choose to bear witness to the power of the Lord, to His still small voice, and to His love for His children, no matter the earthly noise.


I’m here… May 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — cindytripp @ 7:37 am
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After 7 weeks, my platelets are finally over 100—105,000, to be exact. That’s great, especially since the trial protocol lowered the treatment threshold to 75,000.

For the first time in the trial, I received the cycle 6 drug on the 21-day schedule yesterday rather than the usual 28- or 35-day cycle, which is another bit of great news.

Cycle 5 and 6 did not include carboplatin—that drug’s been stopped due to my recurring low platelets—but the side effects of the study drug have been more noticeable. They’re not unbearable, and I can handle the occasional discomfort. More good news.

It’s been a month since my mother died, and I’ve mourned her loss every day. The little things sneak up on me—ice skating competitions on TV that she loved to watch, the beauty of spring and the fragrance of flowers, her sweet smile and gentle words that were always welcoming, the pure joy she had in being alive another day. I know things will get better; I know I’ll be better too.

I want to share my good news with her: As long as this study drug is working and the tumors are shrinking or simply not growing, I can continue the trial drug infusion every three weeks. That’s wonderful news, and I know what my mother would say, “Oh, Cynthia, I’m so happy for you. That’s an answer to my prayers.” My mother was a woman who always believed in the power of prayer, and I believe in its power also.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. . . . When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” . . . But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 51-52, 54-55, 57)

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. Sleep sweetly in Jesus until we meet again.

Upcoming schedule: Day 15 labs on May 19; scans on May 23; scan results and cycle 7 day 1 study drug infusion on May 27. I am grateful for your prayers.