Thursday, December 15, 2016

Crushing Cancer-

To say that this week has been an emotional one in the Lett home, would be an understatement. We started off the week with Lena accidentally cutting off the tip of Ruby's right ring finger in the hinge side of a hall door. It was traumatic for everyone. There was blood, there was a screaming poor baby, there was mom freaking out and frantically looking for the Dermoplast and a prepping a cool wet washcloth, there was dad trying to collect information from the crazy mom in order to decided which ER we should speed to, there was Lena who was in shock and trying to hide, Corin who was crying and repeatedly asking if Ruby's finger was gone... and then Hank who was pretty curious (he is pretty familiar with hospital scenes.) We all piled in the car, Ruby on my lap, and drove to the hospital nearest our home. It is not a great hospital... in fact, I don't think I would recommend it to anyone, but it was the "in the moment" decision we made. They got Ruby in and looked at her finger, decided we needed to get X-rays, and then upon finding no broken fingertip... they proceeded to dab it with a little iodine and bandage it up like a preschooler. I was dumbfounded. They prescribed antibiotics, ibuprofen, and referred us to an Orthopedic specialist. We got home, fed everyone, and of course Ruby ripped the dressings off... so I had to re-bandage her little finger. she was exhausted, we were exhausted. She seemed fine and happily finished out her day. The next morning, we called Children's Orthopedic specialist (we are partial to Children's doctors) and tried to get an appointment that day. They ended up recommending we take her to our pediatrician, who recommended we take her to the ER there at Children's. Tay took her in Monday at 1:45, and they got home at 12:15 that night. Ruby ended up needing to have a little bit of her fingertip/bone removed in order to clean and seal it properly... they were not impressed with what the previous ER had done with our sweet Ruby's finger. After it was cleaned and sealed, they placed a mitten cast over her hand, forearm and halfway up her bicep. (And she is really dangerous with that hard cast... I think just about everyone has gotten clobbered in the face at least once... I currently have a fat lip from one such occurrence.) She remains on antibiotics and goes back in on Tuesday of next week to a plastics specialist in Children's. We'll see what they think needs to be our next step towards healing and regrowth.
So after all the Ruby drama settled down, we were able to focus on what you came here to read about... Hank's results from the MRI!!! We went in Wednesday for the normal blood draw/labs. Then we sat down with two of Hank's doctors and they explained the results of the MRI with us. They said it looks almost identical to the scan done in August, which is good. They see no new growth, but there is still some areas that show radiation scar tissue/ dead tissue. They said it is unlikely this will go away any time soon if at all, but that it is not a concern to them... meaning he won't need surgery to remove the spots that showed up in imaging. So... Hank is Cancer FREEEEEEE! We felt a huge release when we heard the news. Then we had time to ask questions about what is next. I felt like some of that deep breath I had let out, seeped back into my chest and is decidedly clinging to the interior walls of my lungs. It is hard to feel like I can let go of the fear of cancer when we are told the first 6 months after chemo is typically when we would most likely see regrowth.
 So I ask that we all pray against the regrowth of cancer cells.
She said it is uncommon with this type of cancer, but my clenched jaw and tight lungs are pretty good indicators that I have some fear in this area.
So moving forward... we will visit the oncologists every three months for the next year. Each time, Hank will be sedated and have an MRI and labs drawn, then we will have a follow up appointment or phone call. In the next week or so, we will be getting a call to schedule surgery for removing Hank's port. We are thinking it will likely be after Jan 7th. We have to remain cautious of Hank's immune system for the next three months, maintaining his restricted diet, limiting his exposure to large crowds/construction sites, and staying away from indoor playgrounds. He will remain on antibiotics for the next three months as well, while his immune system has a chance to come back to where it should be. So with flu and cold season upon us... I foresee a lot of homebody activities.
At some point in the future, he will most likely have to have reconstructive surgery/prosthetics for his face. It sounds pretty heavy, as our doctor mentioned they will have mandatory psychologist meetings with us and Hank as part of the process. I am trying to avoid thinking about this for now... which is more easily done considering it will be a while before we will need to start those discussions.
For now... we are working on passports for the kids so we can continue along with Make a Wish plans and we are trying to get our lives back to some small slice of normal.

We are so thankful for those of you who are on this journey with us. For now, the hard parts are over and with any luck... Hank won't even remember the Chemo days. So with NO DOCTORS APPOINTMENTS FOR HANK in the next two weeks... we are feeling preeeeeetttttty good! (Never mind that Ruby has a few appointments in our future.)
Hank is CANCER FREE. Good Lord, that feels lovely to say aloud.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

As we wait...

A lot has happened in the Lett household since I last updated. We have moved (so if you need our new address, please get a hold of me via Facebook, email or phone.) and are settling into a new space. It was a slightly chaotic, mad dashery dort of move... but we are no longer under the reign of our previous landlord, so things are looking up! Hank's counts have been good every week we have lived here so far ( 3 1/2 weeks now). Hank had his VERY LAST CHEMO the Wednesday of Thanksgiving. He had the heavy duty stuff, the V.A.C., and so he stayed overnight and came home with daddy on Thanksgiving morning. We threw together a last minute TG dinner for our little family of 6 and had an overall pleasantly quiet holiday. We were certainly FULL of thanks for Hank being done with Chemo. With the V.A.C. chemo, comes the immune crash, so for the last time, we deep cleaned the home and waited out the 7-10 day post-chemo crash period. Hank didn't catch anything and his counts remained pretty good last week and this week. But THIS week... Hank went in for imaging!!! Today Hank had an MRI of his head and neck to confirm what his doctors seem pretty confident in... that he is cancer freeeeeeee. Oh I can NOT wait to hear those words in celebratory confirmation!!! We should have the results by next Wednesday. There are no longer weeks, than those  in which you wait for a cancer verdict. I remember in all vivid angst, the days we awaited Hank's diagnosis. These coming days of waiting are less nerve wracking, but strangely still full of angst.  This year has been a mix of so many emotions. I never knew I could feel so much in such arrays of highs, lows, resentment, and joy. There are so many emotions that have passed through our hearts, prayers, tears, and laughter. Hank has gone from fearful to resigned to sheer bravery to true contentment. He has shouldered a lot, but he is such a joyful little trooper. I have learned so much from him and his battle. My kids have always been great instruments in learning the melody of this life. I hope the Lett melody resounds in joyful notes, rather than sorrowful or melancholy tunes. I hope the world knows we choose to break through the sorrows of our lives to see the Sun/Son light our path. I can't deny that I have struggled with bitter feelings, resentment, and frustration at God. But in my deepest parts of the heart, I simply KNOW we were carried through this year on prayers and petitions. I KNOW we were mourned over and alongside by someone who loves us dearly... I KNOW it is our Savior, who provided all of you to us... in all forms... far and near. I didn't always "feel" loved "directly" from the Lord, and yet I did... because we felt deeply loved by all of you. Watching people pour themselves out for Hank, for our family. You have no idea how much that ministered to my dark thoughts. I can never thank you all for the love you so freely gave, without expectation, without fully knowing how it may help, selflessly, sacrificially, and sincerely. You all were Christ to me, to Hank, to our family.
And so we wait...
And I wait... to send you an update!!!
Oh, and Hank's make-a-wish looks like it will be a cruise!!! He is super excited! We have to get the kids passports, so that is the next step and then on to planning dates and details!

Hank's last day of Chemo... we all went up and took him lunch.
 Hank is hoping for cllllllll clear! Okay, we all are.