Jen had a meeting with her transplant doctor this morning that we felt went exceptionally well. He is the director of stem cell transplants at Vanderbilt and is a leading expert in graft-vs-host disease (what can occur when a patient's body tries to fight off the donor's cells; GVHD is likely to occur in most patients, but with varying degrees of severity). All this to say she feels confident that she is in good hands. We found out her donor is a 25-year old male (nationality still unknown)who has been exposed to CMV- a virus that commonly causes complications in transplant patients. This is good news, though. Because her donor has been exposed to this virus, Jennifer's new immune system will 'recognize' it and know how to fight it off should she come into contact with it. Results from Jennifer's bone marrow biopsy and lumbar puncture, which were administered Monday, came back and again are cancer-free! Wahoo! All involved seem very optimistic about the transplant and its outcome.
It's been gray, cold, and even snowy here in Nashville but God has sent Jen rays of warm sunshine all week long. Two that stand out in particular...
"Who doesn't want a free cookie?!" Jen and I went to a nearby bakery for lunch the other day. We were about halfway through our soup and sandwiches when a lady who worked there came over with a giant, not to mention complimentary, chocolate chip cookie for us to share. She explained that she couldn't help but notice Jen's scarf covering her bare head and the mask Jen wore into the bakery. She further explained that she had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and is facing her first rounds of treatment in the coming month. She sweetly asked if Jennifer had some type of cancer. The two of them visited for a while and Jen was able to give her pointers and calm some of her fears. As she turned to walk away, we asked her name so we could pray more specifically for her. So, Robin, we're thankful for our Divine appointment with you and we'll be praying.
"Winner, winner pasta dinner!" Jen and Matt are frequent patrons of Amerigo's right up from Vandy. When she and I went there for lunch today, we sat in her and Matt's usual spot in the bar. Our waitress recognized Jen right off but knew she'd changed some since the last time they'd seen each other. Jenifer explained to her what's been going on in her world since September. The waitress expressed such genuine concern and caring I assumed she and Jennifer were closer than mere acquaintances. When she walked away, I asked Jen her name. She had no idea! We had a lovely meal and as we asked for the check, she happily told us, "It's on the house!" Then, looking at Jennifer, "And you get better, come back in and I'll buy you a bottle of wine!" What a bright spot in this dreary day!
Jen's sickness is a 24-hour, 7-day a week job. She is constantly working at staying on top of her meds, staying far way from as many germs as she can, staying rested up and well-nourished...exhausting stuff. But more than that, she can't call in sick from this job. She can't clock-out at the end of the day and leave it for tomorrow. She can't even go in late. It's with her all the time, wherever she goes. But boy the perks! No, not a good health care package or 2 months paid vacation. Even better. She gets to share her story and speak hope, love, and encouragement into lives who desperately need it and who are really no more than strangers. But, and I don't mean to speak for her (though I think she'd agree), this is one job she'll be glad to be fired from.
Please remember Robin in your prayers for Jennifer.