Julie Andrews once quipped, "Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start." So, I shall do just that Miss Andrews.
Last Tuesday morning, Matt and Jennifer went in to see a doctor at Vanderbilt to check on some swollen lymph nodes in her groin, a swollen ankle, and a lesion on her left breast. She also had a pretty bad cold for several weeks which left her unusually fatigued. The doc conducted a series of tests, and Jenny and Matt went on about their day to await the results. Jen headed back to work at Vandy where she is a supervisor in the oncology pharmacy. Matt didn't have to work that day so he made the 20 minute drive back home and decided to spend the afternoon mowing the grass, a surprise for Jenny.
After the yard work was complete, Matt, with a touch of anxiousness, decided to log on to the computer and read her chart, an advantage of being a resident at Vanderbilt. The chart revealed low red blood cell count, low white blood cell count and low platelet count. Immediately, Matt understood the danger in the numbers and made a call to Jen at work telling her to go to the ER where he would meet her. Within minutes of their arrival in the ER, she was admitted to the hospital and given the news.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday brought many tests, biopsies, family members, and visitors- a general barrage of information and emotions. We all joyfully welcomed the news that she was FLT 3 negative on Friday morning and settled in at the hospital to await the leukemia subtype and prognosis to be given that night. Her wonderful doctors told us she has mixed-lineage leukemia which has characteristics of AML and ALL, both types of leukemia, a hybrid of sorts. This type shows up in less than 5% of patients. Thankfully, the rarity of it has no direct correlation to the cure rate. In fact, both docs believe her to be 70 to 80 percent curable, having both pre-existing health and young age on her side.
Friday night, at about 10:00, the first round of chemotherapy began with the intention to 'blast' the bone marrow, ridding it of all cancerous and, unfortunately, healthy cells. The next benchmark is set for two weeks when the doctors can see how well she is responding to the chemotherapy. The week after that will be her 31st birthday. We all pray to be celebrating a lot this October 6th.
For all who know Jenny, you will not be surprised to learn that she is taking this all in stride. The obvious fears are there but she is relying on her faith in our Lord, our Rock, our Hope, our Redeemer, our Friend for healing and grace as we enter into what will certainly be a fiery trial. Nor will you be surprised to find out that when she was informed of a defect in the equipment used to inject her meds, she promptly had it sent back down to the pharmacy, the very place where she has been working for the past 11 months. She has sent many a drug to this floor, the oncology floor, never dreaming one day she would be on the receiving end of these drugs.
To wrap up for the day, know this- our hope is in Christ. We are confident He will sustain her through this journey. May He be made much of, may we learn how to love and serve Him better, and may we be given the grace and wisdom to have our minds set with a heavenly perspective as we live in our earthly bodies in this temporary home. We are heaven-bound and may we be better prepared for it because of Jennifer. In all things, ALL (and, for that matter, AML) things, we will give thanks. God is good. To God be the glory.
Please pray specifically that Jen's biomarkers will come back high for a positive prognosis and low for a negative prognosis. Pray that her cancer will be obliterated by this first round of chemotherapy. Pray for her doctors and nurses and other caregivers, especially her husband Matt. Pray that her body will be strong and resist infection as it poses a seriously dangerous threat to her life. Pray that she will have the peace that surpasses all understanding.
The Vandy Verse:
For you alone are my hope O Lord, my God, my confidence since I was young. Psalm 71:5
A Little Somethin' for the Samples:
If you'd like, Jennifer would love cards and pictures for her room. You can mail them to: Jennifer Sample
1211 Medical Center Drive
Vanderbilt University Hospital
Nashville, TN 37232
No flowers, please. That one's a real bummer but they carry some nasty stuff that could make her sick. Also, Lysol/Clorox wipes and bottled water go like hotcakes around here. If you'd like to send those, just drop them off at the home of Gary and Donna Holdiness. So Jen and Matt can rest, please call Lauren at 601-259-7535. Thank you!