Wednesday, September 30, 2009

October

The prayer calendar is back! Please take a minute to go to that site to sign up for a day to pray for Melissa. We know many of you pray for her every day, but it will be an encouragement to her to visibly see who is covering her in prayer that day.

I already added those of you who I thought wanted certain days continuously. Please tell me if I missed you, or gave you the wrong day.

Right now, she is receiving the first round of a new chemo regimen. Please be praying that this new chemo will prove to be effective in treating her lymphoma. Also, pray for Doug and the kids while she is away this week.

Click here to sign up on her prayer calender! You can either leave a comment or email me at jenniferbergey@yahoo.com

Thank you in advance!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Chemo

I am sorry I didn't post this sooner, but I received a call yesterday late afternoon letting me know I will be going in to begin chemo tomorrow (Wednesday). As long as all goes smoothly, I should be coming home on Friday. This is a much shorter regimen than what I've had before, with it just being a two day infusion.

I am so thankful for all of your prayers. You are such a blessing to me and my family!

Melissa

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pure Sweetness

Just wanted to share a few of my favorite recent photos....


Caleb and Lauren at Conner Prairie

Audrey Jane showing off the newly recovered bench...it belonged to her Great Granny Prater

We have no idea how this happens...Audrey (sometimes Lauren) will wake up with the whole back of her hair in a "teased" state. So funny.

Lauren and her gymnastics buddy, Josh. Is this perhaps a prom pose?

One of the most beautiful sites in the world...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Official Word

We finally received the phone call from Dr. Portlock (New York) yesterday afternoon around four o'clock. Talk about relief just to hear something! In a nut shell, the echocardiagram showed that my heart pumping rate is slightly decreased. It is still in the normal range, but it is decreased most likely due to the chemo drugs from the EPOCH regimen I had this summer. So, she is choosing not to proceed with another round of these particular drugs. She is going to have me try two chemo drugs that I have never had before....thank you, Lord, for this option! I am just so happy to know there is something for me to try...perhaps something that will prove to be beneficial!

Okay, as far receiving the treatment in NYC....
I know I had mentioned how emotional I was about this possibility. I had come to a point, after prayer and much optimism and encouragement from my husband, that I realized this was a temporary change for what we trust will be a long term and life changing benefit for our family! So I was very surprised when Dr. Portlock told me I could go through the first two rounds of treatment here in Indianapolis. At that moment there was a rush of sweet relief to know that I wouldn't have to leave my children yet! Oh, thank you, Lord! I asked her if she honestly felt okay about me receiving the chemo here, or if she would rather me be in NYC. She said at this point I might as well receive the first two rounds here, which will be followed by a PET scan. If there are any improvements whatsoever, then I will proceed with further treatments (hopefully leading up to a transplant, dependent on my physical eligibility and finding a donor) in New York under her care. At that point, I would be there for several weeks.

We have prayed, cried, sought the Lord with all of our hearts, and we believe this is the next step we are to take. To the best of my knowledge, I will receive this chemo in the hospital over a few days period. There will be three weeks in between the first and second round. I am not sure exactly how soon after the scan will take place, but Dr. Portlock wants immediate action taken after that, in terms of going to NYC if there are improvements. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to know I will be home for all of the birthdays our family will celebrate in October....Grandma Nellie turns 96 (she is going to out-live us all!), Caleb turns 6, Audrey turns 2, followed by Doug's, my Dad's, and two nieces birthdays!!!!

I plan to talk to my local nurse first thing Monday morning. We are hoping I will begin treatment here as soon as possible. I will let you know for sure when I am going in to the hospital for this round. I know I am surrounded by so many prayers, so much love, and an incredible amount of support...THANK YOU! Don't ever doubt that YOU are making a difference by your prayers and words of encouragement. You are. I love you.

Melissa

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Waiting to hear....

Doug and I returned safely yesterday evening from New York City. Although I wish our trip was under different circumstances, I am so grateful for the time that we were able to spend there. It was refreshing to have three days alone with my husband. He is such an amazing person....my best friend....and my rock.

I didn't post anything sooner because we are actually still waiting to hear the final word from my NY doctor. As of yesterday afternoon, she was still in the midst of a more detailed review of my latest PET scan, as well an echocardiogram that was done yesterday morning before we left. The echo will tell us if my heart has been affected or not from the previous rounds of chemo. Dependent upon these results, we may begin further treatment soon.....in New York City. Yes, that is correct. The thought of carrying out treatment in a city so far away from my home and my family has taken my breath away and caused many tears in the last two days. However, I may have received what I have prayed for: someone who is willing to try something else with me....someone who knows I am not done with this battle.

It is a lot to digest....I still haven't yet. I was expecting to hear from her office today, but unfortunately I did not. I am now just hoping and praying the echo is not showing any results that would keep me from further treatment. The thought of that is scarier than being so far away from home for my treatments. I don't know very many details yet. I will fill you in on so much more after I hear from them tomorrow. I am just praying that the Lord will give me more peace than ever before....we are trusting Him. As hard as this temporary "relocation" for me would be....it could just be what I need at this time.

I wanted to share a picture of my handsome husband and me just before we saw the Lion King on Broadway. Wow....that was amazing. Thank you, Doug, for that special gift!

More details to follow soon!

Much love,

Melissa

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New York City here we come...again.

Last week I learned two things which, I must admit, caused me to feel as though a rug (of hope) had been pulled out from under me. To back up a bit, I need to explain where Seattle was fitting into this picture (for those of you who read the previous post and were waiting for more info on this). I had been informed several months ago that Seattle may be a place that I should look into in terms of an allogenic bone marrow transplant. I believe they do the most allo transplants in the U.S. Flashing forward a bit, I was told a few weeks ago that they had a clinical trial that I may potentially qualify for....meaning I perhaps would be receiving my transplant in Seattle. While the idea initially startled me and brought me to tears, my heart eventually softened to the idea. I am at a point where I will do anything I need to do. I just want to lie down with my arms spread open and say to the medical world, "I am a willing guinea pig....try it."

I am queen of saying and writing what I refer to as "side notes." So here is a quick side note: for anyone who just read that and feels that I am depending more on the medical world that I am on my God....you are mistaken. I have surrendered all that I have to the Lord many times. I am simply trying to do my part and patiently persevere through this with His strength....and in the meantime you better believe that I will try what may be effective in my course of treatment. God has given us knowledge to use for His glory....and praise the Lord for the medical field. Ultimately, I know the Lord is my Healer...my life-sustainer...my eternal hope. I am trusting in Him to heal me....whether miraculously like the woman who touched His robe, or through medical intervention.

So, I was under the assumption that after my PET scan in early September, I would either be proceeding with one of two things. I thought that Doug and I would be making a trip to Seattle for the initial meeting with the doctors to get everything lined up for the transplant (assuming a donor would be found eventually). If we were not able to get an appointment in the near future, I believed I would go in for my third round of the EPOCH chemo regimen. So, here are the two surprises I learned last week from my doctor's office. First, there is not a clinical trial that would be appropriate for me in Seattle at this time. I was disappointed to learn this. I was also told two days later that I could not go in for another round of the chemo, because there were not "significant" enough results. This was very difficult for me to swallow. For those of you who are curious, my doctor feels it would be potentially damaging to my heart, as I have had a high dosage of adriamycin based drugs over the last year. I understand this could be the case. I also refuse to sit down and do nothing. Which brings us back to New York....

After feeling at a bit of a dead end with my local doctor, I contacted the doctor that I saw in May at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I received yet another recommendation from Dr. Carol Portlock that I see Dr. Papadopoulos (say it a few times...it gets easier). She is a bone marrow transplant specialist at MSKCC. Doug and I both feel that since I am not going through any treatments right now, this is an opportune time for another visit to New York City. We were really hoping that I would also be able to see Dr. Portlock again while we are there. Before I dialed the phone number to schedule my appointment with Dr. "P", I prayed out loud and asked the Lord that we would be able to see both doctors on this trip. As I spoke with the secretary I said "I know this would be a miracle, but we are hoping to have an appointment with both doctors." I was assuming we would have to wait a day or two in between. I was called back that afternoon, and my miracle had taken place. We are seeing Dr. Portock at ten o'clock Tuesday morning, September 22, followed by Dr. "P" at eleven o'clock. Thank you Jesus! Doug and I will be flying out Monday morning and returning home Wednesday evening.

I don't know what the appointments will bring us. I do feel a peace about returning to New York. We both really like Dr. Portlock and would just like to discuss everything with her. I trust her judgement in wanting us to see the other doctor, too. I don't know if this means a transplant would be taking place in New York when the time comes. We still are waiting for a donor. There are pieces of this puzzle that need to be found yet, but I know with all of my heart that the Lord is leading us.

In our college chapel (MVNU), I used to sit and look around at the beautiful and enormous stained glass windows. I like to believe that is what my life is like. While I sometimes just see one little speck of it....perhaps one color that is not even that attractive by itself....Jesus knows there is so much more than that. He sees it all....the magnificent beauty and wholeness that He longs for me to experience. Friends, whether on this earth or in heaven....I know I will be healed. I would like for it to be here....but no one can take that truth away from me. I love it....I love knowing that even when I feel a rug of hope has been pulled out from under me, Jesus is still holding me. He is never taken my surprise....He knew we would be going to New York again, and I will love Him and trust Him every step of the way! I feel so much better after sharing all of this with you. Please be in fervent prayer for these appointments on Tuesday. Pray that we would know the right questions to ask and for the doctors to be filled with wisdom and insight. Thank you to all of you who faithfully walk this journey with us....I really do love you.

Melissa

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Praises First

I apologize for posting the results of my PET scan so late in the evening, but I know everyone understands my energy is first poured into my precious family. I am sitting here in the corner of my bedroom, while the lights are off and everyone else in the house is asleep. Peace...sweet peace.

Speaking of peace, that is exactly what I have prayed for this week, and exactly what the Lord has given me. Waiting for results is always a bit of a mental and emotional rollercoaster....one which I pray you will never have to ride. However, even in the midst of the wait, the Lord is always faithful to fill my mind and heart with a special peace. This peace is like a gentle whisper in my ear that no matter what happens....He is here. I just have to add something here. I fear that some people who are witnessing me go through this battle against cancer, may question why God doesn't make it go away. Well, I know He could. I know He is omnipotent and omniscient....I know He is bigger than all of this. I honestly don't know why that hasn't happened....but I do know without a doubt that I don't want to stop trusting over something I can't understand. He has given me life....and the promise of a greater life for eternity. I trust Him that He sees the big picture....He is guiding me and molding me through this time. I know without a doubt that He can and will use this to strengthen me....and my prayer is that everyone around me will allow Him to use this to strengthen them as well.

Well, onto the results. My nurse did call me this afternoon. I will choose to share the praises first. Number one big praise is that the lymphoma has not spread to other areas of my body. Thank you, Lord!!! Number two big praise is that the actual size of the tumor has not increased....it has remained stable in size since the last scan in May. Number three big praise is that my counts are recovering on their own. My nurse said again today it is very good that my platelets are going back up. The last time I knew they were in the forty thousands....as of yesterday afternoon my platelets were up to 95,000! Thank you, Lord!!! She also shared that lymphoma is measured in units called SUV's. This is a way of measuring the activity of the lymphoma. Since my last PET scan, this meausurement is showing an increase in activity of the lymphoma. Doug and I are not jolted by this news. We knew when we began the latest chemo regimen in June (suggested by the specialist we saw in New York), that this treatment would serve as a stepping stone in the whole transplant process. I do believe the Lord has used this to keep the lymphoma contained....at least a lot more contained that it may have shown up had we not done anything the last few months. So, I am just thankful that the number of praises out number the one piece of not-so-great news!

As soon as I hear from my nurse again (hopefully tomorrow), I will be letting you know what our next step is. I will then explain how Seattle fits into this picture. If we are able to get an appointment there in the near future, then we will be going there before having another round of chemo. In the meantime....please be praying that a donor will surface soon. I have found myself praying that this person would find me....that I would find them....that God will use this means of medical intervention to heal my body. Please keep praying and believing with me.

I appreciate you so much!

Melissa

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tomorrow Morning

I know I haven't done a great job recently of updating everyone on how I am doing. Overall since my last week of chemo at the end of July, I have been feeling pretty good. I still feel very tired on some days, and have to just rest and lie down. My lab work has shown that my counts are steadily on the rise, which is what we want to see. Thank you, Lord, for that answer to prayer.

Tomorrow morning I will be having a PET scan. I need to arrive by 8:15 to register, and the scan will follow shortly thereafter. This is the first scan I have had since beginning this chemo regimen in June. We will be learning what progress has been made and how the tumor has changed in the last few months. After we know the results (probably Thursday) we will then be scheduling the next step. I will either go forward with in initial appointment with a doctor in Seattle (Yes, Washington. I promise more details to follow.), or with my third round of the chemo regimen.

Please be praying that peace will continue to fill my heart and saturate our home. We have waited many, many times for results, and I don't think it gets any easier. I am so thankful to know that God is the same steady Rock that He always has been in my life....I am waiting hand in hand with Him.

Much love to you,
Melissa