And the doctor said.....

Yesterday was Day 49 since my Bone Marrow Transplant, and my first followup visit with Dr. Horwitz since escaping from the grasp of the transplant clinic and returning home.  Making yet another trip to Duke was actually not all that bad - kind of like seeing an old friend after you have been apart for a while.  But I also look forward to seeing less and less of my buddy over the coming weeks and months, hopefully only getting together for routine annual visits.

My day began with another PET/CT scan, the most reliable method currently available for detecting the presence, or absence, of fast growing cancer cells anywhere in the body.  That was followed by a pulmonary test, made necessary by the fact that a Bone Marrow Transplant can be very taxing on the lungs and respiratory system.

This makes my fourth PET scan since being diagnosed in June of last year.  The first was just prior to my diagnosis, and indicated wide spread cancer throughout my entire body.  They said that my scan "lit up like a christmas tree".  The second and third scans were performed in September and January to determine how I was responding to my clinical trial chemotherapy regimen.  Both of those scan showed that the treatments were being highly effective and showed no evidence cancer cells anywhere except one persistent lymph node in my abdomen.  For some reason that one node was not responding to the chemo, even though everything else was being highly responsive.  It looked the same on scan three as it did on scan one.  Quite puzzling.

So I was anxious to find out if the High Dose Chemo part of the transplant process had been able to have any impact on that node.  My hope and prayer was that because there were different drugs involved, and in much higher concentrations, it had been so effective that it killed all of the cancer cells in that persistent node.  But having already had 24 chemo treatments, I was not expecting significant change.  Dr. Horwitz walked into the room, sat down, and said that he had looked at the scans and they showed that there are no cancer cells anywhere, and that I am in complete remission.  That node has been scrubbed clean.  Complete remission!  It took both Holly and I a few minutes to fully comprehend what he had just said.  Our family motto has been "We're going to beat this", and that is just what we have done.

Ever since that meeting, all we can think about and talk about is what a mighty God we serve.  The God that brought all that is, into existence; the God that created the heavens and the earth; the God that lives and reigns on high; that same God hears the prayers of each and everyone of His children, and knows the desires of our hearts.  That is the same God that answered my hope and prayer.  Complete remission - thank you Lord for your love, and your kindness, and your mercy.

It was Dr. Horwitz recommendation that we meet with a radiologist at Duke to get his opinion as to whether or not we should consider radiation for the area of that node.  The scan indicates that there are no cancer cells present, but just to be on the safe side, since that node has been somewhat problematic and atypical, perhaps we should consider "zapping" it, just to be sure.  It sounds reasonable, and having come this far, why not take this one last step as a bit more insurance.

Overall, yesterday was just about as good as it gets.  It was certainly better than expected.  And I can't begin to tell you how good it was to hear that, in something less than 12 months since I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Peripheral Lymphoma, with a 5 year survival rate of about 20%, I am now told that I am in complete remission.  It has not completely sunk in yet, but I am one very happy camper.  Thank you Jesus.

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