As you may (or may not) have noticed, my blog has been fairly quiet as of late. There is a reason for this, and unfortunately it is not a happy reason.
My husband, Bryan, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last week, and our family is really still processing all that this diagnosis entails. I am taking a break from my DIY posts, to share some of my heart with you all, and I am hoping you will pray for us as we begin this journey. I plan to continue to blog as normal, but may interject things about Bryan along the way.
About a month ago, Bryan noticed that he had a lymph node near his neck that was enlarged. He had just had a cold virus, so we assumed that the lymph node was swollen because of that, however he went to the doctor just to be sure. After a series of appointments and blood work that didn’t show anything conclusive, Bryan had a CT scan done. We went to meet with a surgeon to talk about removing the lymph node for a biopsy, and in this meeting she told us that his CT scan showed that there were other enlarged lymph nodes in the upper part of his body and per the radiologists words that this was “likely lymphoma.” This was seriously out of left field for us, as Bryan had no symptoms or any other signs pointing to something so seriously wrong within his body. Since then, Bryan did have the node removed, and it was biopsied and found to be Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
The week following the biopsy was filled with further tests — a heart scan, a lung test, a bone marrow biopsy and a PET scan. The PET scan showed that there was a random lymph node below Bryan’s diaphragm that was related to the lymphoma, but outside of that, nothing new showed, and we are praising God for that. As of now, his organs remain unaffected and his bone marrow is also not affected (this is a huge praise!). His heart is strong and his lungs are also performing in the 98th percentile, so these are all really good things. Bryan has health and youth on his side as he fights this!
We met with his oncologist (seriously, even typing that word makes me anxious) this week and received his treatment plan. Bryan has been diagnosed at a Stage 3 (we had thought he would be a Stage 2, but the random node/nodes near his pelvis have moved him to a Stage 3). The plan is that Bryan will go through six modes of chemotherapy, with potential radiation to follow. Each mode consists of two treatments, so Bryan will receive a total of 12 treatments. His first treatment will be this coming Monday, and each subsequent treatment will follow every two weeks. We are planning to treat the lymphoma with ABVD chemotheraphy (for those who know more and would ask this!), instead of using the STANFORD or BEACOPP approach, given that the risks and side effects seem higher than a small percentage potential decrease in the likelihood of a relapse.
Bryan will be having the four chemo drugs administered together, every two weeks and his total treatment duration will be 24 weeks. His doctor is extremely optimistic about the results of this treatment path and because Bryan is in excellent overall health, doesn’t anticipate that Bryan will have terrible side effects. A PET scan will be done after 2 modes (so 4 treatments) to make sure that the chemotherapy is doing its job, and heart and lung scans will be done again after 3 modes (6 treatments). We have an appointment this week with another oncologist for a second opinion, just to make sure that this is the best way to combat this disease, but don’t anticipate a change in the treatment plan as Bryan’s diagnosis usually receives a “standard” form of care. But, we will see what the other doctor has to say, and go from there.
(Side note, Bryan’s doctors have been AMAZING so far. Even his dermatologist has been calling to check up on him and see how she can help. Bryan has a natural talent at meeting people and really just drawing them in, and even in this valley he is walking through, he continues to do that, and I am not surprised! That’s just totally Bryan. His oncologist is a wonderful doctor who communicates so well, and I am so thankful for that as well as his willingness to answer the million questions we have and not make us feel rushed. The doctors have called quickly with results and have really taken the time to explain things. I feel really well taken care of by the medical professionals that we are coming in contact with, and definitely feel God’s hand in all of that.)
The good news in all of this, if there is any, is that Hodgkin’s lymphoma has really high curable rates. In the words of Bryan’s oncologist, “If you had to pick a cancer to get, this would be towards the top of the list.” I know this doesn’t make the treatment easier, or the situation any more fun, but it definitely leaves a huge ray of hope on the entire situation. (P.S. I am in no way a medical expert, and I actually try to stay away from medical things as much as I can, and have really succeeded in that up until now. So, I apologize if I spell something wrong, or say something wrong. I am just relaying the information that I know, and that changes with every day!)
I can’t tell you the emotions that raced through my body when the surgeon told us the results of the CT scan. I am a positive thinker, and I try to see the good in every situation. I thought for sure that this was just a lymph node acting up that would go back to normal and turn out to be nothing but maybe the aftermath of a virus. And all of a sudden, I realized that was likely not going to be the case. In the moment, I didn’t know whether to cry or stop breathing, but it was the look on my husband’s face, that kept me from doing either.
Bryan is an amazing protector. He is the husband I always dreamed of in the fact that I feel so safe around him and completely just protected. It has been extremely difficult to see him not being himself — to see the worry in his eyes, and to hear the anxiety in his voice. And on top of all that he is dealing with, somehow he is still constantly apologizing for this as if he brought this on himself. But, I also know that Bryan is a fighter. He has overcome many situations already in his life that have not been easy and how I wish that I could take this from him so he didn’t have to deal with this as well. But, I am confident that he can fight this and that he will come out stronger on the other side.
While I am confident in Bryan and his positive outlook and attitude, I am even more confident in our God. I have been so comforted by many Bible verses and songs these past few weeks. The song I keep repeating over and over again lately is Passion’s, “The Lord our God.” The lyrics say that God is a promise keeper and He finishes what He starts. God has begun this journey in our lives, but He will finish it and He will ultimately have the final glory in the entire situation. We know that while we wait for results, wait for plans, wait for our lives to move forward, He is here and He is good. (Seriously, if you haven’t heard this song, go download it now, you will love it!)
The Lord our God is ever faithful
Never changing through the ages
From this darkness You will lead us
And forever we will say
You’re the Lord our God
God will lead us. This is a valley in our lives, and while we don’t know what tomorrow holds, we know Who holds tomorrow. What an amazing comfort that is. I often wonder how people deal with situations like this and don’t know the One who loves them more than anything. We have such Hope, and I am just in awe of that. God is able and He tells us to “not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.”
We are definitely stressed, and struggling to handle this diagnosis. We are fearful for what treatment will hold for Bryan and what the next steps will be. But I know that in all of this, we ultimately trust God. He is in charge. He is the one who decides, He is the one who heals, and He is the one who already knows what Bryan is going through and what awaits him. He has not left us, but He is with us every single step of the way. In the waiting, in the tears, in the struggle of dealing with something we were not prepared for, the God of all is literally right next to us as we walk this road, and honestly, the more I remember that, my fears completely subside.
Can I also just take a minute to tell you how impressed I am with Bryan? He has been so strong through all of this, when I know that inside, he is just a wave of emotions. He continues to work, and live his life with confidence knowing that his life is not in his own hands. I am amazed at the dad and husband he continues to be, in spite of a fairly big obstacle being thrown his way. I seriously don’t think I have ever loved him as much as I do right now. Not to mention, in true Bryan-form, he has made friends with all of his doctors and nurses already, and I know that he will be a shining light to so many others through this journey!
Thank you SO much to our friends and family who have come alongside us in this journey. I remember thinking the morning of Bryan’s surgery that I couldn’t believe how calm I was. And the reason is because we were so surrounded by prayer. Without that, I would have been a mess. I have a peace that is not coming from inside me, but is clearly coming from Jesus. We can feel your prayers and we have really never felt so loved before. We appreciate all of the offers for help with the kids, and help with meals and every kind word and card passed our way. We are so thankful for the people reaching out to us and know that God is really reaching out to us, through all of you. I am so thankful for those that are standing with us and walking this journey with us — we are so not alone. I can’t really express in words how thankful we are, so I pray that each of you that has supported us knows who you are and knows just how much we love and appreciate you.
What we need now is really just prayer! We definitely don’t want a pity party. We honestly want to feel as “normal” as possible. So please continue to treat us the same! A sense of normalcy throughout this will really help time pass. We know that realistically we will need flexibility from people as the next few months may be unpredictable, so bear with us as we figure this all out!
For those of you asking how you can pray for us right now, we would love prayers for continued peace and calming as we approach the beginning of this journey. Please pray that we would make wise decisions and that Bryan’s doctors and caretakers would be the absolute best that there is. Pray that the chemo would do its job and eliminate the cancer. Please pray for Bryan, that he would remain feeling as healthy as possible, and that the side effects of the chemotherapy would be limited to none. Please pray that I would have energy and strength as I pick up some additional responsibilities and that I would be support that Bryan needs. And, please pray that Bryan might be a light to someone (or many!) through all of this — we know that God has His hand in everything, and we want Him to use it mightily. Thank you, so much, for walking with us through this! God is so good, you guys, and I know that He will work this all out for His glory.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28