March 12, 2009

On Sunday morning, before my trip back to CTCA, Mike and I went to church. They had a really great time of prayer for me and my upcoming scans. I appreciate that support so much. My mom and I started off on our 7 hour drive around 3:00pm. It rained until we got into Indiana and wasn't too bad the rest of the way. There is an hour time difference, so we got to our hotel around 9pm central time. I went down to the fitness room at the hotel and used the stationary bike for a quick half hour workout before going to bed. I needed to be at the hospital at 11:30 to check in the next morning. After checking in and getting my arm band with my name and my hospital code on it, I went up to the second floor to have my blood drawn. I have mentioned before that I have really bad vein access in my arms, and since my surgery in 2005, I cannot have IVs or blood pressure taken on my left side. I also have really sensitive skin that reacts to tape, etc so I asked not to have my port accessed overnight so as to limit the amount of time I would have the tape on my skin. This means that my blood work would have to be drawn through my right arm. Amazingly, the tech got a vein on the first try and drew about 5 viles of blood for all of my lab work. From there I headed down to the lower level to nuclear medicine to begin the process of my scans. I would have to have another IV started for the injection for my bone scan, where they inject a very low amount of radioactivity. This has to circulate for about 2 hours before the scan can begin. My mom and I went into the waiting room, and the same man working in nuclear medicine came to get me as always. And as always, he tries for a few minutes to get a vein before handing me off to another tech to try. About 40 minutes later, and 5 tries, he finally successfully got the vein in my wrist. I joked with them that I just have to make sure I am remembered there and maybe next time they should have boxes of supplies labeled with just my name on them. While I waited for that injection to circulate, I went back to the waiting room to drink the juice for my CT scan. 30 minutes later, I was called back for my CT scan. I was also scheduled to have a bone density scan done, which I have never had before. It is done in the same machine as the CT, only they place a board under you that you lie on. The bone density scan and CT scan took only about 20 minutes total. I went back to the waiting room to wait for my bone scan. At about 2:20, I was taken back. They take a full body picture along with one of my neck, two of my sternum, and two of my pelvis. I was to have a MUGA scan (on my heart) the next morning, which would require a new IV. To eliminate the same trouble of finding a vein, they arranged for me to have my port accessed at 7:30 in the morning so they could use that for my 8:30 scan.

Tuesday morning, my port was accessed and then we went back down to the lower level for my heart scan. The same tech from the day before came to get me with a smile on his face. He asked if I was able to have my port accessed, and we laughed about it as he took me to the room where my scan would be done. He said he set everything up just in case, and I looked on the cart to see four big boxes of rubber gloves and other supplies with "AMY" written in bright red marker. So, they took my advice from the day before! We all had a good laugh about it and it was a good way to start off my day. The scan was easy enough. We then went up to the second floor to wait to see my doctor. At about 9:45, I was called back. I have prayed so much over these scan results, hoping and praying for healing, and also that my doctor would know what to do from here.

My bone density scan came back normal for someone my age with no signs of osteoporosis. Some of the chemotherapy I am on can cause bone weakening, so this was good news. My CT scan showed my organs to all still be healthy and clear of any signs of disease. My bone scan showed the same osteoblastic lesions in my sternum as my scan from December, with no changes. It also showed the same tiny osteoblastic lesions on my pelvis near my left hip as the scan in December, with no changes. My tumor marker (CEA) that has seemed to bounce around lately went up to 76. (Normal is between 0-3). None of my scans are showing any reason for this number to be elevated again, so my doctor wasn't sure what to make of it. He decided that he will keep my chemotherapy regimen the same for three more months and then scan me again. So, I continue to get Herceptin over 30 minutes, Zometa over 20 minutes, Avastin over 60 minutes, Gemsar over 3 hours, then finish it off with a Neulasta shot. Then I have a few days off before I start my Xeloda chemo pills at home over the next 14 days.

I was finished with my IV chemo regimen by about 5 pm on Tuesday, and my mom and I started home. The rain was so incredibly heavy at some points I did not know how we would make it all the way home. It was dark and hard to see. We prayed for semi trucks to follow so we could use their lights as a point of reference as to where the road was. As we drove home, I thought about all of the results. To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed. Not discouraged, just disappointed. I want so badly to go into my doctor's office and have him say that I have no signs of disease anymore... that I am healed. I want to move forward with my life. As we followed those semi truck's lights through the heavy rain, I felt a huge significance in that relationship to my own walk with God. "Praise You in This Storm" has become the theme song for my family's journey over the years. And here we were in the middle of the heaviest downfall that I think I have ever driven in, and our eyes were glued to the lights in front of us to get us home safely. Where the truck went, we went. It was our guide to safety. That is how my life is. I can be in the middle of this storm, yet still know where I am going...  I am following my Savior's lead to get me to safety. I thought "What reaction would satan want me not to have after these results?" Maybe to wear these battle wounds with victory, showing that while I have been wounded, I am still strong. So I have decided that is what I will do. God uses all the bumps along the way to make me who I am.  I will not let myself get down about these results, for God had already healed me. I do not need a piece of paper to tell me what my heart already knows.

Click here to listen to Free to Be Me

Click here to go back to my updates