Friday, October 17, 2008

The End of the Beginning

One year ago this month, in Oct. of 2007, I noticed a growth at the end of my sternum, right in the middle of my chest. At first it was small, so I thought I could simply wait until my next physical to have it checked out. Probably just a cyst, right? Before the month ended this anomalous spot grew exponentially, reaching the size of a baseball. Obviously this could not wait, so I went to the doctor and thus began a series of tests that eventually led to a diagnosis. On Dec. 7 of 2007 I went to my doctor and she finally told me that the growth was indeed cancer. She sent me to an oncologist who diagnosed this cancer as Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells in the blood. I was told that this disease is incurable, but treatable. The course of treatment prescribed was an autologous stem cell transplant, a procedure that would use stem cells from my own blood to replace my immune system after course of chemotherapy destroyed the cancer cells and everything else as well. This treatment required travel, so my wife and I chose to have this done in Chicago, at the University Of Chicago Medical Center, which specializes in treating Multiple Myeloma. After several rounds of chemotherapy here in Louisville, and after a few setbacks, the transplant finally occurred on Aug. 25 this year. I spent three weeks in the hospital, sometimes quite sick, but most often not feeling too bad. After being released from the hospital we spent two more weeks in Chicago until we were released to return to Louisville, where final follow up tests have been conducted. The last blood test in Chicago showed no signs of the proteins produced when the cancer is present. Tests done here in Louisville have produced the same result. One of the tests done just this past Tuesday was another bone marrow biopsy. The last one, done before the transplant, showed no sign of the cancer in my bone marrow. My oncologist said that barring any strange result in this last test, it is fair to say that this cancer is in remission. I firmly believe that God led me to the right doctors, the right hospital, and the right treatment. I am thankful to our gracious God for this outcome, but I also know that remission does not mean cured. There is no cure. But there was, and is, treatment and hope. I know this journey is not over, that this is in reality the beginning of a new journey, a new life, a life for which I am grateful. I understand how great a gift this is. May God continue to guide me as I use this great gift, and may I be smart enough to listen.
Deacon John
Oct 17, 2008
St. Peregrine. Pray for us

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