Apr 9, 2024

April 2024 Update


This first update has been a long time coming, so let me apologize to anyone who has been patiently waiting to hear how we're doing and how the treatment process is going. We don't take all the love, encouragement and support for granted! If I'm being honest, one of the reasons it has been hard to start sharing updates is because I can't easily put into words what the last few months have been like for me, Ben, and our girls - so I'll just do my best!

Going back to January, which feels like it was a year ago now, we jumped into my treatment plan pretty quickly after the holidays. I had a port surgically implanted into the right side of my chest on January 4th, and I definitely underestimated the recovery from that alone! Let's just say our human skin doesn't love being forced to stretch or make room for a device that was never meant to be there. Now that I'm two cycles and a few months into this journey, I can say more confidently that having a port for chemo is indeed a huge blessing and something I've gotten more used to. My tiny veins were challenging to work with before chemo, so they've only disappeared more with each treatment, making the port an absolute must.

My first treatment the following week was quite the adventure, as it was the week that winter in Iowa finally made it's obnoxious, freezing cold appearance! In fact, we weren't even out of Cedar Rapids yet before we had a slight detour through a ditch as we were just about on the interstate. Thankfully God had us covered, and Ben's little '05 Mercury Mariner did a great job getting us back on the interstate and headed to Iowa City. We both laughed in disbelief that driving through that ditch even happened. Once we finally made it to the U of I Hospital, we met with my oncologist to review the plan for the next few days and cover any new questions we thought of since our previous appointment with him. SO. MANY. APPOINTMENTS.

One of the hardest things for me to accept early on in this whole process was the number of appointments, scans, bloodwork, etc. I would need to have done - I now have a better appreciation for this since I understand the importance of communicating with my doctors on a regular basis and keeping a close eye on how my body is tolerating the intense drugs in my treatment plan from one week to the next. You see before this cancer journey began, I was very fortunate to not have any major health concerns or need to see a doctor on any kind of frequent basis. This reality has been a hard adjustment for me as I put my health and trust in these doctors and the medical system. I'm still praying for strength and endurance in this area because I know these doctors and appointments will be a big part of my life even when the recommended treatment plan is complete.

It might be helpful to share a few more details about the treatment plan. I have been and will continue to receive three different chemo drugs - a cocktail named MAP. One cycle is 5 weeks, which involves being admitted for in-patient chemo on weeks 1, 4 and 5 of each cycle for either 3 or 4 days on those in-patient weeks. It's definitely an intense schedule between the amount of time spent away from home and then limited time to recover from any side effects and detox as much as possible before jumping into the next part of the cycle. Many people have asked over the last few months why this chemo has to be in-patient versus what a lot of people have to do with receiving chemo for a few hours at a time or even being able to do certain types of chemo from home. This was something we didn't understand at first either, but the main goal is to protect my vital organs - so for instance, I receive the first two drugs during week 1 of each cycle, and it's a very slow drip for a total of 44 hours. This is to protect my heart first and foremost, but certainly helps my other organs too.

Without going into every single detail following that first week of treatment, I have now completed 2 full cycles (5 weeks each) of chemo and will have 4 more cycles to complete once I've recovered from surgery. This feels good! What we've already learned though is how much the side effects can vary from one treatment to the next, and that lack of consistency can make it difficult to support my body in the best ways possible. So far I've experienced some nausea, fatigue, indigestion and all of the other fun symptoms that come along with digestive issues, some mild neuropathy in my feet, and then the worst side effect so far - mouth sores. My doctors have tried to help with managing any side effects while also being open to whatever we want to try too. We've also met some new, awesome "cancer friends" who have graciously told us about products and remedies that worked well for them. Incredibly grateful for that and God has continued to show up and place the right people in our path throughout this journey and always at exactly the right time! It's funny to me that I'm still surprised by this at times, but He is God and that is what He does. :)

I knew this post would start to get really long, so I'll try to wrap up with some final details and update on how we're all doing mentally/emotionally as well. After those first 2 cycles of chemo, the next BIG step was surgery! I had three full weeks off of chemo to recover before surgery, and let me just say how AMAZING that break felt. It's the most I've felt like "myself" since January, and I felt physically stronger going into surgery too, which was also a huge relief. Surgery just took place last Friday, April 5th, and involved a total knee replacement along with replacing the bottom portion of my right femur bone with metal where the tumor was. Recovery is going pretty well as we focus on pain management and rest, while I slowly work towards a little more movement each day. This is important because the next reality is getting cleared to start the next chemo cycle, which will most likely be the very end of April.

So how are we doing? How can you pray for me and our family? We are doing ok, but I would be lying if I didn't say the last few months have felt chaotic and too much time being spent in "survival mode". This is something we're going to work harder to avoid throughout my last 4 cycles of chemo because living in survival mode for any reason is completely draining and leaves us feeling hopeless at times. Our support system has been such an incredible blessing these last few months - meals being cooked and dropped off at our house, t-shirts ordered, financial donations given, cards mailed and continuous texts of encouragement and checking in do help us to know we're not alone in this journey/fight - whatever you want to call it! We've learned that a cancer diagnosis can be very isolating when your life shuts down to focus on treatment while most people in our lives go on living theirs as if nothing has changed (because of course it hasn't for them). This is such a weird and hard reality to face, but it's one we're working through with support from the right people and trusting God with this overall process. Counseling is a big priority for our family, so we will continue to lean on that too!

Ok wrapping up for now - let me just say THANK YOU again to everyone who has supported us in any way these last few months. We appreciate all of it more than you know and have felt so loved. I'm sharing some recent pictures below from the last few months too, something that has taken me time to feel ok with doing. Changes in your phyical appearance can be so hard, especially when they happen quickly and without much control. More on that later. :)

P.S. Samson wouldn't leave my side for a bit after we got home from the hospital yesterday following surgery. Dogs are such a gift.

We love you all!

Lindsey, Ben, Charli, Valerie & Lucy

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Other Updates

Apr 9, 2024

April 2024 Update

Our first update to share how things are going after two cycles of chemo, surgery, and a few months into this journey.

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Ways to Support

T-Shirt Drive

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Meal Train

Meal Train

Make or send a meal to support us and our family during this time.

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Contributes a book or other comfort items to be used during treatment.

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$50 Donation

Contributes a tank of gas for travel to and from treatment and appointments.

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Supports the cost of supplies that help during treatment and recovery.

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$200 Donation

Contributes a week worth of groceries for our family.

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Supports medical bills and out of network expenses.

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$1,000 Donation

Supports medical expenses and ongoing recovery for years to come!

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