January 9

I am now one month into the BRAF/MEK clinical trial at Sarah Cannon Research Institute.

I had a full morning this past Friday as required at week 4 of the clinical trial. My morning started off at 7 am with an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart), followed at 8:15 by a dermatology exam, which was followed by lab work/exam at Sarah Cannon at 9 am. The echocardiogram and dermatology work-up are periodically done during the study as a part of the protocol. I assume my echo was normal since I didn’t hear otherwise on Friday. The dermatologist also told me that he saw no signs of squamous cell carcinoma, which is a possible side effect of this study. Good, good. Thank you, Father, for no significant complications in either of these areas.
Once at Sarah Cannon, we began with labs. First up, the weigh-in. Oh what a strange thing this is. My weight was up 4 pounds!!!! (You may recall I was down 6 pounds at my last appointment.) Never in my (previous) life would I have imagined I would be so excited about weight gain. But I was pumped. For the first time in awhile, I significantly out-ate the cancer. It is a nerve-wracking thing when I see my unclothed self in the mirror these days – ribs poking out, emaciated shoulders and arms, etc. So I am hoping to continue the increasing numbers on the scales and hopefully not look so much like I’m wasting away when I look in the mirror…
Next, blood pressure, temperature, oxygen sats…all normal. Good.
Then blood draw. No biggie. Been poked with needles too many times to count now. Know exactly where my best veins are…
Next, off to an exam room to chat with a nurse practitioner. “You look great! How are you feeling? Any problems? Any med changes?” Doing well, feeling better, no major issues to discuss. No real side effects that I can tell. Taking some iron, though not nearly as much as you people told me to take. “That’s fine, just slowly increase your iron supplement intake. Alright, hop up here and let me listen to your heart and breathing, then listen to your abdomen and palpate it a bit…Ok, doing great. Head on over to the patient lounge and wait.”
Now, wait time. Have to wait until the labs come back to make sure I can continue the trial. After about 1.5 hours, the nurse comes in and says my labs are fine so the orders are sent to the pharmacy for next month’s pills. After another half hour, the nurse comes in with all my pills for the month and says, “We’ll see you next month, after you have your CT scan. Call us if you need us.”

What? Really?
I’m still not sure I really believe it. Do you have any idea how long it has been since I’ve gone a month between some form of medical appointment or procedure? I don’t even know! It was some time in the middle of 2010 – early on in my pregnancy.

So, I just used about 5,000 or so words to share 2 main points: 1) I was thrilled that I’ve gained weight over the last two weeks instead of losing more. 2) I don’t have any medical appointments for one month. Astonishing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the prayers!!!

I continue to feel good. I have a normal appetite, normal sleep patterns and I am taking very, very little pain meds. (I am pretty much back to only taking pain meds at night now.) I have almost normal energy. I can do almost everything I want to do, with the exception of running around with my boys and exercising at my previous level. Thanks to my new best friend Miralax, I am even, dare I say it, fairly regular. I know you care about that detail too. 🙂

I was thrilled to be able to drive the carpool this morning. What a joy! Three kindergarteners are nothing if not entertaining! I usually try to say a prayer out loud for the kiddos just before they get out of the car. This morning when I finished, sweet Camden said, “And thank you that my mommy can drive us to school again.” (I wasn’t able to drive the carpool much last semester.) MELT.MY.HEART. Thank you Merciful Father!

I would like to humbly ask you to remember another young mother with colon cancer when you pray for me. Yes, Satan continues to attack my church family. Her name is Jennifer, she is my age, and you can read her story on her own caringbridge site (jennifercalendine). She has two children very close to my kids ages; in fact, her daughter is in my son Camden’s class at church. Please pray that both of us will be fully healed to raise our children and be the mothers and wives we desire to be.

And finally this has nothing to do with anything but I just want to end on a funny note. A short time after watching a movie on Netflix this afternoon, Scott asked me, “Mommy, can we watch some more Reflex?”
My physical therapist-self was so proud…

The Walker household’s verse for January:
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Blessings and peace-

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