By now, most of you know about the battle that Tessa began fighting last November. The diagnosis was stage 2 Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (ALK positive). Swelling and pain in her lymphnodes appeared earlier that month and after several biopsies, we learned the underlying cause.
The course of treatment was 6 rounds of CHEOP chemotherapy, with 3 weeks between each round. Tessa's doctors at the University of Minnesota told us that this course of treatment had a good chance of killing off all of the lymphoma and putting Tessa into remission. Though the prospect of chemotherapy (and all of its nasty side effects) was daunting, Tessa was ready for the fight.
And fight she did. The 18 weeks of chemo were filled with many ups and downs. I would call it a roller coaster, but those are supposed to be fun, and chemotherapy is anything but. Despite facing the most challenging situation of her life, Tessa's strength and spirit shined through, surprising no one.
Tessa's mid-chemo scan in February showed she was in remission. While we remained guarded and weren't quite yet ready to breath a sigh of relief, the positive news was well-received and helped motivate Tessa to cross the finish line. On March 30th, Tessa walked out of the infusion clinic for what was supposed to be the last time.
We had planned for a summer of healing and strengthening, but instead, unfortunately, we are continuing the fight against lymphoma. The final scan post-chemo in April was not clear, as we had expected and so hoped for. In the following weeks, her symptoms reappeared and after a week in the hospital and many tests, pokes and prods, it was confirmed that the lymphoma had returned.
So here we are. Round 2.
The original plan of attack was Brentuximab, a promising and more targeted second-line treatment. However, due to the aggressive nature of the lymphoma, DHAP chemo will also be used to push the lymphoma back into remission, as the Brentuximab does it's job more slowly. DHAP will be done inpatient at the hospital as it is known to be quite tough on the body. The next step after these treatments will be a bone marrow transplant.
The road to health is a bit longer than we initially planned, but if anyone is up for a fight, it's our Tessa. Please send her all your good thoughts, love, messages and prayers, and we'll try to keep you updated as we're able. Thanks to all her friends and family for everything you've done so far!