It was a pretty long afternoon at Mayo. Our first appointment with the PA at the neurosurgeon's office was quite uneventful. She basically looked at Nick and told him he seemed to be doing fine as far as the wound healing and such.
Next, we visited Dr. Snead at radiational oncology. She was a very tender doctor, sweet and kind. Here's what she told us: Nick's cancer is "chronic." This does not mean terminal. The main difference is that terminal cancer does not respond to treatment, while chronic cancer is still considered manageable. We won't know how this cancer responds until he begins chemo and radiation.
We learned a lot today about how cancer works. Dr. Snead said that cancer is something that "mutates." What this pretty much means is that you can kill of some of it, but not all of it, because the cells are always changing. It may respond for a period of time to a specific drug, but eventually, another form of treatment might be needed. The job of radiation, in Nick's case, is to try and shrink the tumor as much as possible. Since the cancer has "metastasized" (spread from one place, the liver, to another, the spine) the cells are in his blood. This is where the chemo comes in to try and kill of as many of the cells in the blood and throughout the body as possible. This will most likely start the first week of July. Essentially this cancer may be treatable, but not curable.
Beginning Monday, June 21st until Tuesday, June 29th, he will have 7 radiation treatments. We won't know how effective the radiation treatments will be until about 5-6 weeks after the last treatment but in the meantime, they're going to schedule a CT and MRI (specifically of the brain), as well as a visit with Dr. Kim, the medical oncologist. There will not be a PET scan, because Nick's type of cancer does not pick up the contrast for that type of scan. It certainly wasn't the news that we wanted to hear today, but we know what lies ahead of us, and we know we have an Almighty companion on this journey.
Right now, here's what we all need to be in prayer for:
1. Limited side effects from radiation
2. That the cancer responds extremely well to treatment
3. That the cancer has not spread (ie, isolated to spine)/Good MRI and CT results
4. That treatment of the cancer will not interfere with the healing of his spine
We know the list will continue to grow, but these are the immediate areas of concern.
Thank you for your constant prayer.
The verse that Aaron brought to mind today was Joshua 1:9:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua had a lot before him. He was literally venturing into a place that was unknown to him, and led God's people into many battles to claim His promise to them. In the months to come, a lot will seem overwhelming, scary, and even discouraging. But this is a battle we know we are facing with the Lord on our side.
In Christ's Name,