Monday, April 30, 2012

So Glad You Made It!!

Happy 100-days to you!
Happy 100-days to you!
Happy 100-days dear J-E-N-N-I-F-E-R....
Happy 100-days to you!!

Today is Jennifer's 100th day post-transplant!! Congratulations Jenny! You continue to be such an inspiration to us all, and we are overwhelmed as we look back, not only on the last 100 days but all the way back to September 13th, and see God's hand clearly at work in your life and your journey through this illness.

The last 100 days have been incredibly hard. Jennifer went through a very aggressive round of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Her bone marrow was completely ablated; her immune system obliterated. The bone marrow transplant was, as far as we know up to this point, successful. Her bone marrow has engrafted and is 100% donor. Graft-vs.-Host-Disease (also known as GVHD) has reared its ugly head, as it commonly does with transplant patients. GVHD occurs when the donor's organ (in this case, the bone marrow) recognizes the host as an unfamiliar, unfriendly site and begins to attack it as a foreign body. Jennifer's GVHD manifested itself in the form of a rash which covered, at its worst point, up to 50% of the surface area of her skin. The rash was treated with phototherapy (tanning bed-like sessions) and began to clear. She began having issues with her GI tract, and there was concern that the GVHD had entered her gut. She was prescribed sessions of photophoresis where blood is extracted from her body, run through a machine that rids it of its T-cells, and then reenters her body. She is currently undergoing photophoresis at twice-a-week clinic visits and seems to be improving with it.

Along with the daily 'grind' of having to be extraordinarily particular with her diet (due to the GI issues), wearing a mask anytime she's in public, taking staggering amounts of various medications, and dealing with the general 'what now?' feelings, Jennifer is continuing strong and courageous as her fight wages on.

She is, of course, human. Anyone undergoing this strenuous amount of treatment would certainly find it nearly suffocating, perhaps insurmountable, at times. I have often been reminded that God allows nothing to come into our lives that we, with Him at our side, cannot handle, that He will not let us endure anything we cannot bear. Then I think, "Boy, He must believe Jennifer to be one tough cookie." Of course this toughness, this ability to  bravely face the fear and the unknown and the seemingly endless treatment of this disease all comes from Him. There is nothing good in any of us that does not come straight from Him. So I thank Him for equipping her with what she needs for every minute of her sometimes grueling days. She is a fighter and continues to fight well. She has a good Leader in this fight, and I am certain that one day she will come into the blessings of being His faithful follower.

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master's happiness!" Matthew 25: 21

Prayerful Ponderings:
Please pray, with thanksgiving, that our gracious Lord and heavenly Father has seen Jennifer through these last seven and a half months and, especially, the last crucial 100-days. Please pray that He will lift her spirits and give her a renewed sense of purpose with this essentially 'new' life she is beginning post-transplant. Pray that her heart will be filled with the hope and encouragement that can only come from the True Source of these things; that she will find joy in each passing day and find herself overwhelmed by the sheer delight of her soul in the Lord. Her 100-day evaluations are on Thursday. Please pray these go well and for her to receive postive reports on her progress up to this point. Also, please pray the photophoresis treatments continue to be effective. Praise God for His great mercy and unending lovingkindness toward Jen and her family. We are undeserving of all the goodness He has mercifully rained down on us. Humbly, we thank you Lord.