Hello, dear friends. Sorry for the bit of quiet around here lately. (It's not you, it's me.)
First, the good news - James is done with both radiation and chemo! We are so thankful to have made it thus far, thankful for God's grace that carried us through such an intense treatment regimen, thankful that now our days do not automatically include things such as a 40 minute commute to the hospital, getting prescriptions filled, or getting poked with a spring-loaded needle.
Also, we didn't realize this at the beginning (because the doctor can't say "we hope you will be strong enough for treatment, but we'll wait and see"), but James actually got an "extra" round of chemo that is a one-in-a-million kind of deal. Basically, when the doctor saw how well he was doing, he was scheduled for the third round. Something the doctor hopes for but can't guarantee or promise. Very rarely do any of his patients hold up for round three. So we are indeed very, very thankful.
On the other hand, events over the last three weeks have meant that we really just needed to persevere, to ask for strength to endure to the end. As James's body weakened, finishing treatment definitely felt like we were crawling to the finish line rather than sprinting through the home stretch.
For the last three weeks, James's body has rapidly declined and weakened. (Even as we hope that the present wasting away is leading us to health and healing, it is a genuinely strange reality that it difficult for me to deal with.) Imagine, if you will, James at 90 - he no longer has energy to play with the girls, leans on shopping carts to make it through shopping trips, tires easily and fills his afternoons with naps, and even lacks the strength to consistently shoot a basketball to rim height. This is the James that we now know.
The effects of chemo are often felt two to three weeks after the last dose, and radiation keeps working for six to eight weeks after the last treatment. So it may be awhile yet before James actually starts to feel better. His cough is getting better, but also keeps him from sleeping much past 4 a.m. Also, James's blood counts were all quite low last week (yes, again, and yes, totally normal), which means he is susceptible to infection and fatigue. (Because of how chemo works, they will likely dip down even lower than the previous low over the next couple weeks.)
Having cancer is a rip-roaring good time, eh?! =)
The next "thing" on the horizon for us is a CT scan that James will do at the end of the year. (December 29th, if you want to mark your calendars. =) ) We'll get the results from that the following day. Hopefully, hopefully, we'll see good, great, downright awesome results from that. The CT is kind of basic as far as scans go, and can show new growth (boo!) and decreased tumor size (yeah!) but can't differentiate between tumors and scar tissue (a common side effect of radiation). So we are praying for, once again, awesome results that are better than the doctors expect.
And then we go from there - more waiting, more days of recovering, and then a PET scan at the end of March.
In the meantime, thank you for continuing to pray for us, support us, and keep us encouraged. If you all keep doing that, we should be able to post again sooner rather than later. Thanks! You all are awesome. =)