Today Jennifer had a lumbar puncture and bone marrow biopsy to ensure her body is still cancer-free as prep work for the upcoming transplant. Next Monday, January 16th, she will be admitted to the hospital (the first time since September 13) for bone marrow ablation- the ablation is a round of treatment that includes two rounds of chemo and three rounds of radiation. It will wipe out Jennifer's bone marrow's ability to regenerate so that her body will be more receptive to the donor's marrow. Also, it will enable her bone marrow to regenerate as the donor's marrow.
This round of chemo, as it relates to previous rounds, is considerably stronger because the goal is to completely obliterate her bone marrow. (Before, some of her marrow survived the treatments that killed all the cancer cells.) This will also render her immune system defeated.
Furthermore, this will be her first treatment of radiation. Here is how she describes it:
I stand in this room, in this contraption that looks like something you'd build in your garage. It's like a three-sided cage. I'll stand in it with a bicycle seat in it for me to rest on should I need it. There are handles that will be at my side that are similar to bicycle handles. They are there for support and stabilization as well. There's a thing that looks like a huge camera lens. They aim the lens and shoot an invisible beam at me. This goes on for about five to seven minutes with me facing it and then I'll turn around and it'll be done again for about five to seven minutes with me looking away from it. It looks like something out of a science-fiction movie! The radiation will help my system get rid of any remaining leukemia cells that may still be lingering, or hiding out, in cutaneous tissue that would go undetected otherwise because it's not in the bone. I'll do that twice a day for three days. After the third dose, lead blocks will be hanging in the cage to minimize radiation damage to my lungs.
On Saturday, January 21st, Jennifer will be infused with the donor's either peripheral cells or marrow (Jen wasn't sure and she hasn't asked). She will get to keep her blood type, which she is very excited about, because the donor's matches hers. She doesn't think she'll get to meet the donor and has yet to discuss it with her physicians. January 21st will be Day 0 of an estimated 30-day stint at Vandy, hopefully very similar to her stay before. Although, her physicians anticipate her being sicker with this stay in the hospital due to the intensity and life-threatening characteristics of the treatments.
I received a text message yesterday from a sweet friend who lives here in Nashville with her family and who, along with her mother- and sister-in-law, provided meals for us during Jennifer's previous hospital stay. She was asking for an update and if she could again help us through this next stay. In a list of helpful things she was offering, her predictive text auto-corrected, "Food again?" to "God again?" When I read it, I laughed a little to myself and thought, "Exactly. God again."
So here we are again, Lord, humbly yet confidently petitioning Your heavenly throne for the grace and mercy and healing we're so desperate for. Thank You, again, for loving us the way You do. Thank You for reminding me yesterday that You love imperfect us no less than You love Your perfect Son. Thank You for communicating with us and for allowing us to communicate with You, the God of the universe, the Almighty, the great I AM. God again. Again today, again tomorrow, again for eternity. Let us come to you again and again and again enjoying You and Your goodness to us forever.
Please pray that Jen will make it through these upcoming procedures, that the adverse effects will be minimal, and that the treatment will be successful. Please pray that God will continue to sustain Jennifer and her caregivers. Pray for safety in travel as others will be coming in to help. Pray that Jennifer's focus will remain steadfast upon her Savior to hold her up through this trial He is so lovingly and tenderly seeing her through. Please lift up the exceptional health care providers who are attending to Jennifer, that they may have God's wisdom and guidance to be used by Him in her treatment. Pray for Matt to have peace of mind as her primary caregiver as he simultaneously endures the rigors of his medical training. Please pray for folks who are being touched by God through Jennifer's trial, that hearts will be softened and thirsts will be quenched by His Living Water.