~~~standing together as Ansley battles non-hodgkins lymphoma~~~

ways to serve

"...for this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you..."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Diagnosis

Stage 3 Anaplastic Large Cell (T-cell) Lymphoma

From Matt:
To all,
Here is the latest with where things are. I will try to share all that we know without being too technical. Ansley has cancer. In particular, she has a Stage III lymphoma, which means that she has cancer above and below her diaphragm - in her chest and in her abdomen. The specific type is anaplastic large cell (T-cell) lymphoma. [Of note, don't google this. It is very different in adults than in kids and any research over about 3-4 years old is outdated.] The entire team here has been great from doctors to nurses to patient care techs - from the ER to ICU to OR to PET scanner to 7B! We are so thankful for everyone that God has placed in our path.
We came in at 2AM on Wed morning with Ansley having severe constipation/obstipation. At 4AM we first saw the left-sided pleural effusion, which is typically a bad deal, but can be for a variety of causes. Later that morning Ansley had a CT scan of her neck/chest/abdomen/pelvis that showed extensive disease in the lymph nodes. We were admitted and the work-up began. In 60 hours she had a CT scan, thoracentesis, surgical removal of lymph nodes, port placed (permanent catheter for chemo), chest tube placed, and a PET scan and we were given the diagnosis of anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Needless to say, we are spinning and drained. But, it is obvious how the Body of Christ has been praying, as Amy and I have had supernatural strength and patience in all of this.
We met with our oncologists tonight (Dr. J and Dr. K). They are both amazing. We have had many small meetings over the past 2 days, but they spent over an hour with us tonight going over things. Dr. K just happens to be a national leader in this particular type of non-Hodgkins lymphoma! They told us that there is about a 75% cure rate with this type of cancer. So, it should be highly responsive to chemo and the results may be very good. Amy and I are so excited about this news, but somewhat guarded. It is a long road to get there. Ansley was started tonight on chemo - another huge blessing - 60 hours from initial concern to beginning treatment! The chemo should quickly shrink the tumor size and relieve some of her symptoms. But, the total first course is 12 months. There is a 42-day 'induction' period where the tumor is really aggressively attacked with chemo. We will likely be in the hospital for another 7-10 days and then have some daily meds, some weekly meds, and weekly placements of chemo into the fluid around her spine.
Right now, Ansley is still requiring a good bit of morphine for her abdominal pain. The tumor is still compressing the intestines and keeping her from being able to poop or pass much gas.
We are tired, but thankful for all of the time and work that many people have put into our little girl. The entire system at this hospital has been amazing, and the number of people who have responded to love our family has been overwhelming. We thank everyone so much for loving our little Ansley so well.
We are clinging to Romans 8:32 and 12:1-2 right now. We can't make sense of this. There are no easy answers or platitudes. This will be a long journey. But, we have a loving Father who so loved the world that He gave us His only Son. And, if He did not spare His own Son, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things that are good for us? We are learning a lot about trusting what the 'all things' means. But, I can look at the brokenness in this world and look at the Cross and see the loving hands of our Father and the solid, loving courage of Jesus - and we can trust that He loves us. Also, Amy made the point tonight that our emotions are swinging from pole to pole, and that is okay and good, we think. But, we need to daily not renew our emotions, which really just come when they want. Rather, we need to daily renew our minds in the truth of the Gospel.
So, I think that Regan will put this up on a blogsite. Thanks to her for that - this makes this the first official blog for me and Amy.
This part is from Amy~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I never knew my heart could ache this much. But, it is and this is what God has allowed. And so, in confidence, we move forward trusting that God will remove the cancer from our precious daughter's body.
The hardest thing in all of this is watching Ansley hurt. Please pray that we can keep her belly pain under good control. I want so much to take from her this pain and the next 12 months of her life. Pray that Matt and I can be strong and confident around her and the other kids. We have lots of big decisions to make in the next couple of days but none as big as the one we made today to move forward aggressively with this chemo.If i am honest, I am having a hard time remembering how many times God has provided in amazing ways. Please be my strength right now, friends. I am so very weak and torn apart inside. Thanks for your outpouring of love over the past 2 days. Words can never explain how thankful we are for our friends and family. We are going to have to be so careful with Ansley for a while. I would appreciate it if y'all would not come to the hospital to visit. We need her body to be at its healthiest right now to fight this cancer. Even a runny nose or cough could affect her.
If you know of anyone that would like to hear our story as our story unfolds, please send them this way.
Our goal is to give Regan updates. I am beginning to see that some goals are important and some are just not that big of a deal. Our precious Ansley is priority and also remembering the 4 other blessings we've been given. Please be patient with us as we go through this.
Amy