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Dear Friends and Family,
The following is a recap from the beginning of Kathleen's Cancer Journey which started in the Spring of 2014. We resisted sharing on Caringbridge because we thought the battle would be won in the matter of a few months. Well, here we are almost three years later.
In June 2014 Kathleen was diagnosed with classical nodular sclerosing Hodgkins Lymphoma, Grade 1 favorable. We immediately got an appointment at MD Anderson Cancer Center (MDA) to confirm the diagnosis and run tests for staging and treatment.
In October 2014 after completing 4 cycles of ABVD Chemotherapy, which was administered in Meridian, Mississippi, followed by 2 weeks of radiation treatment performed at MDA, she was dismissed with no evidence of disease. The first-line chemo treatment is successful in 95% of Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients, so we all expected for Kathleen to be cured and were not surprised that she handled the treatment so well with minimal side effects and little or no change in our lives.
The follow-up regimen was to return to MDA every 3 months for scans and blood work to assure that the cancer was gone. She continued to have clear scans until July 2016. At that time, there were some changes in the lymph nodes, but it was not clear what was happening.
In October 2016, Kathleen’s biopsy came back positive for Hodgkin’s lymphoma with two different sub-types, meaning that the cancer cells mutated and would be more difficult to treat. Her relapse came two years post treatment rather than within the first year making it more resistant to treatment. The biopsy revealed the cancer as Grade 2, Unfavorable with the cells acting more aggressively with syncytial variant cells, meaning they have morphed from the original nodular sclerosing Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Kathleen was treated with the chemotherapy regimen known as I.C.E. (ICE: Ifosfamide (Ifex), carboplatin (Paraplatin), and etoposide). It is administered for three consecutive days in the hospital followed by outpatient injections of a growth factor protein called Neulasta, a man-made form of a protein that stimulates the growth of white blood cells in your body. White blood cells help your body fight against infection. She started this second-line treatment on Monday, November 28th, (her birthday) in Meridian, MS. She went home from the hospital on Wednesday evening, November 30th. It took about a week post treatment for her to recover from the chemo-induced flu.
On December 18th Debbie, Leslie, Michele, Rob, Colby, Amelia, Caroline, Lindsay, Kathleen, Robbie, Mallory, Neal and Sarah went on an eight-day Caribbean cruise to celebrate Christmas this year and had a wonderful trip. Upon our return, Kathleen and Robbie left for Meridian and Kathleen entered the hospital on December 27th, repeating the ICE chemo cycle.
On January 24, 2017 Kathleen and I returned to MDA for pet scan and blood work to determine if it was time to start the stem cell process or whether she needed 2 more cycles of the ICE chemo and then stem cell transplant. On Wednesday, 1/25/17, Dr. Fanale reported that the lymph nodes had responded and were normal size. There was no cancer that was detectable from the pet scan. The cancer was still there, but enough was eradicated that stem cell transplantation (SCT) was now the next step towards a cure. We are thankful for all the prayer warriors who were busy with the most important aspect of this journey and we give all the glory to God for His healing hands!
Thank you for taking the time to follow Kathleen's journey in her fight against Hodgkin's lymphoma. It will not define who she is, it is only one chapter. I pray that we will glorify God throughout our battle. I know that He loves Kathleen even more than we do and I draw comfort and peace from that knowledge. Please continue to pray for Kathleen and our family.
I will continue to update this journal every few days. Please know that what you read is my perspective based on what Kathleen has shared with me, what I have observed and what I THINK I have heard from the doctors, nurses, attendants, etc. so take that into account when there are errors in my reporting.