Sunday, May 5, 2013

Way Overdue!

This post is extrememly overdue! Things have just been SO crazy busy with the Vogels these days, I've struggled to find time to update everyone!

Thank you to everyone for your kind words and thoughts about our last scan. We are so thankful to have good news and at be headed in the right direction. After talking with our doctors at Vanderbilt, the ideal would have been to have a clean scan this past time, however, the fact that my disease has responded so significantly is a VERY positive thing. We understand that we are just dealing with a very resistant disease that will take a little more "heavy hitting" than most. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is bigger though! When He chooses to give me complete healing, it won't matter what we're up against!

So here's the plan.....

Step 1: Evaluation for Stem Cell Transplant

 I went for two days to Nashville and pretty much every test under the sun was performed. They checked my heart, lungs, bone marrow, and took about 20 vials of blood! Crazy! We met with doctors, nurses, radiation oncologists, social workers, you name it! We got a lot of information and it was a bit overwhelming, but we are thankful to be headed in this direction!
Step 2: Stem Cell Collection

Our hope is to use my own cells for a stem cell transplant. This is less intense and has fewer long term side effects than using a donor. My brother is a perfect match for me if we have to go down that road, but we are hopeful that we won't need that! I will be in Nashville from the 9th to the 18th for stem cell collection. It's not a hard procedure, but it does take some time. They said I should feel normal and be able to do normal things like shopping and sight-seeing. Any recommendations on things to do in Nashville would be appreciated!

Step 3: Two more rounds of ICE chemo

It is our FERVANT prayer that this step would put me in complete remission. I had such a great response to the first two rounds, but there is still a small amount of disease holding on. PLEASE PRAY that more ICE will knock it out!

Step 4: PET scan

If this scan is clean, then we will head directly into transplant! If not, then we will possibly try another type of chemo or do radiation first. We are really, really, really hoping it will be clean!

Step 5: Stem Cell Transplant

I will spend about a month in Nashville and hit the reset button on my immune system. I will get a very large amount of chemo and then recieve my stem cells back to regrow my bone marrow. It's a crazy process, but we hope that this reset of my immune system will prevent relapse and get rid of this stuff for good!

Step 6: Radiation

I will then go through about 3 1/2 weeks of radiation to the spots where I previously had disease. Radiation is extremely effective in treating Hodgkin's Disease, but they try to avoid it in younger patients due to the possibilities of secondary cancers. My Doctors and my family all agree that curing me now and hopefully preventing Hodgkin's relapsing is more important than secondary cancers. We really like our radiation oncologist and he is confident that this is the best route for me.

Phew! That's a lot of steps! It's a long road, but we are thankful to have a road! God is teaching me so much about who He is and what it means to go through hardship.

Our preschoolers have been learning about Moses and the Israelites. God offered his protection to His chosen people over and over again, even when they didn't trust Him. God has begun to open my eyes to see that His protection has been a huge theme in my life as well. There have been quite a few moments during this journey that I have questioned God's plan for my life. I mean, He didn't protect me from cancer, did He?! But the truth is, He has protected me from SO MUCH!

After three types of chemo in a year, I do not have any damage to my heart or lungs! They are functioning perfectly! I also have never been nauseous enough to stay in bed all day through this entire process and have been able to continue working. Praise the Lord!

God has been so good to us, and I know He will continue to be! This journey we have been on has been crazy and scary, but we are standing firm on His promises and asking Him daily for healing. Just like God was faithful to the Israelites, we are confident He will be faithful to us!

 I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am for my friends and family. This community I have been blessed with is well beyond what I deserve! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has blessed us with gifts, cards, well wishes, words of encouragement, and most importantly prayer!

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