Our dear friends.
Here's the latest from our corner of the world.
Yesterday we met with our hematologist to follow up on the results from last week’s PET scan. Here are some key takeaways (as I understood them, asking for grace from any medical professionals who may be reading this!). If this is more than you have time to take in, you may want to read the first two or three bullet points and skip down to the last couple of paragraphs.
- Dr Douce is very encouraged (as are we!) that the PET scan showed no lymphoma remaining. Thanks be to God.
- He is also glad that the hemoglobin count is heading in the right direction. (Robert's count was 10.8 last Friday--the first time in double digits since last June--Yay!) This could take two to three months to get back to normal (14–18).
- The PET scan showed some new, small nodules on the lung. These are most likely the result of some infection Robert may have had while immunosuppressed from the chemo. However, given his recent history with melanoma, they could be more serious and need to be monitored.
- There is a good [not sure what adjective to use here] chance of the lymphoma and/or melanoma recurring. Lymphoma would likely be within five years. Melanoma (more dangerous) can recur years later in various places—the lungs being a strong possibility. Hence the need to keep an eye on those nodules.
- Robert’s white blood cell count is low (has gone down since finishing chemo). This will likely get better within 2–3 months, but can also be a rare side effect of one of the chemo drugs, so needs to be monitored.
- For the next three months, they will do monthly blood work and also flush his port. In three months they will do a CT Chest scan to look at the lungs again. These results will determine next steps.
- Robert will be seeing a pulmonologist in two weeks to consult on the lung situation. He also has an appt with an ENT to check out something that is still showing up on the left parotid gland. That is likely not melanoma, but they want to be sure.
- For the next three to five years, Robert will have quarterly follow up appts with his melanoma surgeon (in GR) and dermatologist, and periodic appts with the hematologist, depending on what unfolds over the next 3–6 months. He will also have scans (pending insurance approval) every 3–6 months.
- Recurrence of melanoma is primarily detected by scans. Recurrence of lymphoma is primarily detected by symptoms. There is a low threshold of things like fever, weight loss, night sweats, fatigue, and anemia to get him back in to be checked out.
Overall, Robert is encouraged and continuing to feel better/stronger. The wear and tear of nearly a year of constant doc appts, tests, scans, etc., and the prospect of more to come, is considerable. But this precious man remains uncomplaining and our hearts are daily being grounded in God’s sweet Providence and the knowledge that our lives and days are in His hands.
We are blessed and grateful to have each other—and you—as we walk through this journey He has appointed for us. May His grace encourage and strengthen you on the path He has given you. "The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace" (Psalm 29:11).