We had an early start to our appointment yesterday because it was the first of many “Scan” days. For the first year of treatment, Lizzy will get “scans” every 3 months. The scans consist of an ultrasound and an x-ray.
Scan days start early – we were supposed to be in Cincy at 6:30am. We left the house around 5am, which, under normal circumstances, would have been just right for a 6:30am arrival. However, when we pulled out of the driveway, this is what we saw –
Snow covered roads, temperature in single digits and wind chill below zero. Yikes! But surely the main roads will be cleared. Uh, not so much. If anything, the main roads were worse than our subdivision. Not until we hit the interstate did driving conditions improve – at least in Jefferson County. Once we left Jefferson County, it was on and off as to whether or not the interstate was clear.
Needless to say, it was a stressful drive to Cincy, but we made it safely, albeit about 30 minutes late.
First order of business – ultrasound. The technician was great and explained everything to Liz. Lizzy giggled as the technician put the warm jelly-like substance on the probe and rubbed it back and forth on Lizzy’s belly. All the while, Lori and I are looking at some sort of grainy image on the screen. Looked like an old black & white tv with really bad reception to me! I think the last time I saw images like that was when we were expecting baby #4 – about 18 years ago!! That’s NOT what we were looking for this time!! 😉
(Lizzy getting ready for her ultrasound)
Following the ultrasound, it was off to x-ray for a chest x-ray. This was actually a very quick and painless process as Lizzy was able to stand up and have the x-ray taken. After that, time to wait for our clinic appointment, which was scheduled for 10:30am.
This is where “scanxiety” typically comes into play. Scanxiety is a term we learned from other families who have gone on a similar journey with their child. It basically refers to the anxiety that the parents feel when scans are taken, because the purpose of the scans is to look for any new tumors or abnormalities that could indicate the cancer is active and still around. Often you can’t tell just by looking at someone whether or not they have cancer or whether or not it is active and growing (for example – we didn’t know Lizzy had a tumor inside of her for weeks/months before it was discovered), but with the scans, you can see what’s going on inside. Obviously you hope and pray that the scans don’t reveal any abnormalities, but knowing that you are going to find out, but don’t yet know, can create the anxiety. Thus the term “scanxiety”.
Scanxiety is real and we completely understand it. However, Lori and I can honestly say that we really didn’t experience Scanxiety. Why? Simple really. We totally believe that God has already completely healed Lizzy, so there isn’t anything to discover on the scans. We will continue to have the scans so the doctors can confirm what we already know – Lizzy has been healed.
Once the scans were over and the regular clinic visit began, we began to prepare for the 2 drug regimen. Lizzy receives the 2 drug regimen every 3rd week, and yesterday was the designated 3rd week. On those days, Lizzy’s port has to be accessed soon after arrival so blood can be drawn and lab levels checked. Port access is always the most traumatic part of the whole visit. Lizzy is getting better with it, but she still gets really scared and doesn’t like it when all these people with masks on start crowding around her. It breaks my heart to see her scared like that, and Lori is holding her in her lap and I’m holding her hand and getting right in front of her face and whispering to her how strong she is and how much we love her and this will be over soon, but man, it’s hard.
As soon as the port is accessed and everyone starts to move away from her, she immediately calms down and is fine for the rest of the visit.
All of the labs came back in acceptable ranges, with one concern – her hemoglobin number is gradually dropping from week to week. The decline has been very gradual, and is not unexpected – its a side effect of the chemo – but she is approaching the point where if the levels continue to drop, the doctor will want to do a blood transfusion to boost her hemoglobin count. We don’t want that – so please pray that Lizzy’s hemoglobin count will start going up. Thank you for your prayers!
(Preparing for chemo by eating candy out of a specimen cup!! Yes, it was unused and sterile!!)
Following the nurse practitioner visit, the doctor visit and the dietician visit, the nurses came in and administered the chemo. For Lizzy’s treatment, the actual chemo delivery takes about 5 minutes for one of the drugs and about 10 minutes for the other drug. Once all of that wrapped up, it was time for home! It’s amazing what 10 hours of plowing and some good ole fashioned sunshine will do to make the roadways clear. The drive home was a breeze!
One final note – following Lizzy’s treatment next week, we hope to be able to post a very important announcement regarding our family. So stay tuned, and thank you so much for the continued prayers and support!