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Thomas's Journey of Hope
Oct 23, 2017 Latest post:
Nov 14, 2017
Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting. Thomas is a beautiful example of the human spirits strength. Cancer is only going to be a chapter in Thomas’s life, not the whole story. I marvel at how Thomas's spirit continues to shine bright in a world where he is fighting for his life. Even now as he endures appalling treatments I’m deeply moved by his kindness and love towards everyone around him. People have come to me through the years to say how they have been impacted by Thomas's beautiful heart. I’ve been in wonder at my son since the day he was born and have always believed him to be a true gift from heaven. My son can light up any room. Still today everyone continues to be blessed by Thomas's positive attitude and kind spirit. He has spent his life helping others facing difficulties. Thomas has always been a leading force encouraging our family to find the good in every bad situation. He faces every treatment set back with tremendous grace. When I'm asked how Thomas is doing I find it hard to accurately answer without minimizing his real struggle. I’ve seen my sons determination rise above appalling treatments against this disease. Ultimately, I say "Considering the situation, THOMAS IS TRULY AMAZING!" So many are shocked when they learn the seriousness of Thomas’s condition. He looks healthy and unfortunately sometimes people don’t realize how desperate his situation really is and how much he is hurting. A sad part is that assumptions based on his physical appearance have proven to limit Thomas’s support and encouragement. Cancer didn’t have a face in our family until Thomas. My heart goes out to every family affected by this cruel disease. I come to understand cancer is indeed a mix of both brutality and beauty. I would give anything to make Thomas better. It’s devastating not being able to take away his suffering as he endures frightening treatments with long term complications. I helplessly watch my son courageously fight for his life and all I can do is stand on the battle lines and love him through it. I learned very quickly that despite the cruel world of cancer it’s very important first to be kind and love. It's a precious unique experience walking hand in hand with my son. I treasure every moment in a way only a Mother can understand. I see the power of love against the relentless beast called cancer. And there is hope. After many months of feeling hopeless, alone and cursing God I was broken. I had been endlessly searching for some understanding after Thomas’s February cancer diagnosis and my Mothers suicide in May. I had always believed in God but I knew I lacked faith. I’m guilty of judging others who were spiritually loud as “extreme” or “crazy”. I knew they possessed a comfort through difficult trials and my family desperately needed the same comfort. I couldn’t believe that God was punishing my family but I began wondering was there really a God and where was he? I couldn’t make sense of my sons suffering and I was desperate. And then, On September 5th around 9 pm while driving alone across the Berkley bridge feeling weathered and weary God touched me. It wasn’t exactly a voice or a feeling. It was an overwhelming moment of a love and peace so powerful that lifted me from the trench of despair I was in. I was transformed in an instant. I drove home in a quiet almost hypnotic state. No car radio on. I did not call anyone. Everything around me looked and felt so different. When I walked in my house that night I was immediately asked if I had taken some medicine or something. When I asked why, I was told I looked and sounded different. I was different. God lived in me! I don’t know what lies ahead for my son Thomas but I do know that God is with us. I’m still very afraid and sad. I’ve learned that God offers all of us a soft fluffy pillow to find rest. I try to focus on that and continue to pray that Thomas will be comforted by God. I don’t always succeed and there are moments of intense sadness and fear but I try. DIAGNOSIS - 2015 Thomas expressed to me his increasing fatigue. He went to the doctor and all his blood work was normal. He had recently moved out on his own. We talked about vitamins and getting more rest. He worked very hard, took online classes and had just entered a new relationship. 2016 Continued fatigue, achy, headaches etc. Thomas began experiencing intermittent moments of severe pain in his chest and was referred to Gastroenterology . He was told all tests were normal. By all appearances Thomas appeared strong and the epitome of health. He never smoked, healthy weight, exercised and displayed a cheerful attitude. By November Thomas was feeling increasingly worse yet continued to work. He developed a cough and went to the Doctor in December and was given an antibiotic. Thomas had a trip to Spain planned and worried about having a cold when he left. After Thomas returning from Spain still with a cough he noticed various swollen cervical lymph nodes. He followed up with the Doctor who put him on steroids. Ultimately on Feb 8th he received an urgent referral to Oncology. February 22 after having a lymph node biopsy Thomas was officially diagnosed with advanced Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His pet scan showed cancer above and below the diaphragm. His fight began. Within 3 weeks he had been through two surgeries, various scans, multiple Doctor appointments and began chemotherapy. On March 8th Thomas was receiving his first round of ABVD chemotherapy. Around 85% of Hodgkin's lymphoma cases are cured with the "gold standard" ABVD chemotherapy regimen. In April his mid treatment pet scan showed a good response and we celebrated. We would be devastated later to learn from a June pet scan that Thomas's cancer appeared to be stubborn and persistent. We traveled to New York for second opinion. Thomas's care was transferred to VCU Massie Cancer Center in Richmond Va. After doing a third biopsy the doctors confirmed Thomas had whats called Primary Refractory Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I was devastated that Thomas faced another challenge. I said "Son, stand tall because you got this. You can scream and cry but don't ever give up!" He bravely began intensified treatment with a salvage chemotherapy called ICE where he spent a week at a time inpatient in Richmond for three cycles to be given around the clock every three weeks. During this time Thomas valiantly fought through the cruel side effects associated with treatment. Sadly, his last pet scan still continues to show an area of activity but my son is a fighter. He may get knocked down but he always gets back up! Thomas has only achieved a partial remission. This is a frightening position. After several meetings with Thomas's Doctors we have been told his best chance is undergoing a risky procedure called an Autologous Stem Cell Transplant. He will receive Post Transplant Brentuximab maintenance chemotherapy. Radiation is pending dependent upon his post transplant pet scan. The Doctors have explained the high likelihood of relapse in Thomas's case due to the persistent nature of his disease. I ask you to all pray for my son as he is begins the transplant process. Once again, Thomas is AMAZING! May we all cheer him on and surround him with endless love and support reminding him that God is bigger than Cancer! Thank you all!