Hi everyone! I know I said back in November that I wouldn’t be posting any more but I changed my mind! I can’t help but want to tell good news, plus several folks have asked about Esther recently. Her 3 month PET scan, which she had a few weeks ago, came back all clear! Yay! Her next one is scheduled for early May.
She feels good and looks great. She finished up a fun season of basketball and is now running on a home school track team with Rachel. She will graduate from high school this June. We are still processing and learning from everything that happened this past year. Today is Mar. 29, the 1 year mark of her diagnosis.
I have been meaning to tell you all that Esther's follow up scan that she had after Thanksgiving came back clear.
Go to www.gritsko.blogspot.com to read more. This is our family blog, but mostly is a way I can post our family Christmas letter and photos each year. This will be my last Posthope update. We really appreciate you all reading these and all of your kind words!
Sunny, Esther, Dan, and the whole family
Monday September 24, 2012
We just got back from our first follow up meeting with our doctor at UVA.
Esther is officially in remission! Hallelujah!
She will be seen once a month for a while. She will have a PET scan every three to four months, starting about 10 weeks from now. This will be her new base-line. At that time she will also have an EKG and pulmonary function test. After one year, her PET scans will be every 6 months, then down to 1x a year. It is unlikely she’d have a relapse but the first 5 years is the time when she will be monitored closely.
She feels and looks great! She went hiking on Sunday, plays Ultimate Frisbee once a week at ACTS, and is starting to run and shoot hoops again.
Thank you for reading this blog and for caring about Esther. We are just so thankful for you, thankful she is done with treatments, thankful to God for this healing and for all he has taught us when it was rough going!
She turns 17 on Wednesday the 26th.
I will post some photos soon.
This is Esther. I finished my last day of radiation this Tuesday. I am so happy to be finished with that! I have continued to feel better and better these past few weeks. It has been so nice to be home and enjoy the lovely weather we have been having this week, instead of going to the hospital for appointments. It hasn’t really sunk in yet that I am officially done with treatment. We will have follow up appointments and we will keep you updated. It’s crazy all that has happened over the summer. It hasn’t always been the easiest but God has walked through it with me, teaching me and blessing me the whole way through!
I just wanted to thank you for everything you have done!
It has meant the world.
Today was Esther’s 7th day of radiation. (halfway through!) The last day will be September 11th. She still feels pretty good. She has her blood levels checked once a week. You should have lots of oxygen in your blood while getting radiation, so hemoglobin levels are important. Praying they’ll stay up so she doesn’t need a transfusion.
We went camping this past weekend in the mountains with friends. It was so refreshing to get away. It was nice and cool up there and we kayaked and swam and sat around the campfire. God’s creation is beautiful. Dan, Rachel, and John caught six trout which we ate with supper on Saturday.
We will begin school next week. She will be busy completing her high school work and getting her drivers license. One nice little bonus is that she has been driving into town every day when we go in for radiation. That’s about 40 miles a day to add to her driving log. It feels like we are ending a chapter in the middle of a long book. Good things to come, I am sure. God is writing the story after all.
A friend gave this to me about a year ago. I asked her if I could pass it along to you. I don’t know who wrote it, but it’s is very encouraging…
- If you never had sickness and pain, how would you know that I am a healer?
- If you never had to pray, how would you know that I am a deliverer?
- If you never had a need, how would know that I am your provider?
- If you never had a trial, how could you call yourself an overcomer?
- If you never felt sadness, how do you know that I am a comforter?
- If you never made a mistake, how do you know that I am a forgiver?
- If you knew all, how do you know that I will answer your question?
- If you never were in trouble, how do you know that I will come to rescue you?
- If you never were broken, how do you know that I can make you whole?
- If you never had a problem, how would you know that I can solve them?
- If you never had any suffering, how would you know that I went through the same?
- If you never went through the fire, how would you become pure?
- If I gave you everything, how would you appreciate them?
- If I never corrected you, how do you know that I love you?
- If you had all power, how will you learn to depend on me?
- If your life was perfect, then what would you need me for?
This week, I took Esther in to have the initial set up for radiation. Basically what they do is get everything ready to begin next week. She got a special scan to make sure everything lines up the same way every time she comes in. Apparently, several calculations have to be made, so she will get her first dose of radiation next Wednesday. Then we will go in every day for 14 days.She is feeling good. The side effects of this should be just some fatigue and sensitivity to the sun. So she’ll stay out of the sun and use a lot of sunscreen just to be safe! My prayer requests are basically the same as in the previous post. Thank you so very much!
We met with the radiation oncologist yesterday. Once again, we are blessed with another fantastic UVA doctor. He also gave us a lot of time to ask questions.
The next step is for her to go next Tuesday to get set up for radiation. About a week after that, she will begin 3 weeks of radiation. I learned several things that encouraged me…the doses of radiation are getting much lower as more research is done, the area of radiation will be relatively small, side effects should be minimal.
My prayer requests are:
- that this treatment would get rid of 100% of the cancer,
- that she would have no long term side effects at all,
- and that her heart and other organs nearby would be protected,
- That she will have a long and happy cancer-free life!
Thank you so much!
We had a good meeting with our doctor Friday morning. She spent a lot of time with all three of us. We asked a lot of questions. She is a straight shooter yet very positive at the same time. After talking it over we feel more encouraged about going forward with radiation. This was really plan A to begin with and it seems clear that the benefits outweigh the risks. The ‘bulkiness’ of her disease puts her at a higher risk for recurrence of Hodgkin’s. So it seems best to take every measure to finish this fight strong. We meet with the radiation oncologist this coming Wednesday (Aug. 8).
Esther feels pretty good these days. It will take a while for her to get her stamina back, but other than extended exercise, she can carry on with most regular activities now. She is gearing up for her first experience at community college. She will be taking Spanish there and likely the first week of class (beginning Aug. 27th) will overlap with radiation. I know God with help us with the logistics and we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I have a bit of apprehension about summer winding down and getting ready for school time!
For now, though, we have been enjoying summertime and are thankful for what the Lord has done through the last three months since March 29 when we first got the diagnosis, for chemo being over, and for the little joys of life.
I will post after Wednesday to let you know about our appointment.
~~We attended the funeral of Esther’s young friend from UVA hospital on Thursday. Here is the article about him.
Our doctor called today with the PET scan results. It is still not cut and dry. Good news is that there is no PET activity. However, it is unusual that there hasn’t been more shrinkage of the tumors. This could be the same scenario we had after the last PET scan but we don’t know that.
The next step is to meet with her on Friday to talk. We will also meet with the radiation oncologist as soon as we can get it scheduled.
We could use prayer for wisdom for them and us as we talk, for peace of mind during this fork in the road that seems to be taking a long time (patience!!), peace for Esther.
Thanks for being there and for caring about us
Esther had her PET scan today at 11:30. But the scan actually happened at about 1:30, because there is quite a bit of prep time. She drinks a funny liquid plus gets some radioactive fluid injected in her and then has to wait for a while--which is a little freaky. We felt like ol’ pros since it was her third scan. We enjoyed visiting with our nuclear med tech, who has had us all three times.
She had gotten her picc line removed two weeks ago, on her last day of chemo. Because of that, she now has to get regular IV’s put in for blood work, etc. She doesn’t mind it, though, since she can go swimming now. You should have seen how giddy she was to swim for the first time this summer.
So now some more waiting. We should find out soon from our doctor how things look and discuss whether she needs radiation or not. I will post as soon as we have some news. Should be in the next few days.
We got home this afternoon and found some sad news. A sweet 8 year old boy that we had gotten to know on the pediatric oncology floor passed away yesterday. He had been fighting cancer for about two years, since he was 6 years old. We are just so heavy hearted for his family. Please pray for the Williams family. The funeral is Thursday.
Thank you so much for all of your encouraging words and prayers. We are doing well other than feeling a little sad. Esther feels fine. God has continually blessed us along the way in so so many ways.