Dad went home from rehab on Friday, April 21, 2017.
Over that weekend and the following week he did well. He walked around in the house and outside. His appetite got better. He was looking better and feeling stronger. Until Saturday, April 29th.
That Saturday and Sunday, he began to feel worse. He became weaker and didn’t eat as well. He started running a fever Sunday. That evening it went up to over 102 degrees. We called the nurse who was on call. She was not familiar with his case but told us to take him to the Emergency Department. But we decided to call the oncologist first.
While we waited for the doctor to call, we gave him Tylenol and put a cold cloth to his head. It didn’t take too long before his fever started to slowly come down. When the doctor called, he really did not want us to take him to the ED. He had already scheduled Dad to have a PET scan on Tuesday. Due to certain rules, a PET scan cannot be taken if a patient is admitted into a hospital. Insurance will only pay if the patient is not currently in the hospital. The doctor really wanted Dad to have the PET scan done so the extent of the cancer could be determined.
We took him to a scheduled appointment at Levine’s Cancer Center on Monday, May 1st. At the office he had some fever. When the doctor came in, he asked Dad to move from the wheel chair to the examination table. When dad sat down, he started blacking out. The doctor leaned him back on the table and went to get the nurse. They decided to give him a bag of fluids. After that, he began to feel some better and we took him home. The PET scan was planned for the next day at 12:45.
After leaving the doctor’s office, a rash began on his legs. He continued to run a fever.
Tuesday morning, Dad was weaker and the rash that had started on his legs was now over his entire body. He was still running some fever. Mom called the doctor’s office to make sure they did want him to get the PET scan because of his fever, rash and weakness. They told her if she didn’t hear back from them to bring him to their office after the PET scan.
We took him to get the PET scan.
PET is Positron Emission Tomography. The way it works is that the patient is injected with a glucose or sugar solution that has a small amount of radioactive material in it. The radiotracers goes throughout the entire body. Cancer cells use more glucose than normal cells. The cancer cells take in the radiotracers at a higher rate than other cells. It causes those cells to look brighter on the PET scan than non-cancerous cells.
His appointment was at 12:45. A lady came to get him in his wheelchair to do the test. She said she would give him the medicine to perform the test and that he would have to wait an hour to give the drug time to work before actually doing the scan. A few moments later she returned to tell us she thought he had shingles. She had seen the rash and was very concerned. That was the last thing we had wanted to hear.
Dad did not get out of the scan until after 3:00. We took him straight to the doctor’s office. He was running a fever of 101 and his blood pressure was very low. The doctor came in and talked with us. He showed us the PET scan. There were a lot of lymph nodes throughout his torso that were shining bright red. There were also some spots on his spleen.
The doctor then told Dad that he needed to go back to the hospital. He said the rash wasn’t shingles. He said he really felt that the fever and the rash was coming from the lymphoma. He thought that the chemo from his first treatment was out of his body and the lymphoma was raging back. But to be sure that there was no infection, especially in his pic line, the doctor wanted Dad to be in the hospital on antibiotics.
The doctor also said that they were going to be more aggressive in the treatment against the cancer. He told Dad he had to fight. The 2nd treatment that was planned for Thursday would be moved to Wednesday, the next day. The following treatments would then be every two weeks instead of three.
Two nurses from the doctor’s office rolled Dad in a wheelchair across the parking lot into the emergency department. We were in the ED from a little after 4:00 until after 8:00. The next four days were spent in room 371.
On Wednesday, Dad felt weak but did eat a decent breakfast. They had started him on antibiotics as soon as he was in the ED the previous day. He continued on them the whole time he was in the hospital.
The rash was still over his whole body. A dermatologist took a biopsy from his leg of the rash. He said it could be a reaction to some medicine he had been on. The oncologist still believed it to be the lymphoma. He said the lymphoma could aggravate the blood vessels right under the skin resulting in the rash.
Chemo started at 2:30. The first drug was pushed through a syringe connected to his pic line. The nurse pushed the syringe in slowly, over a period of 10 minutes. The second drug was not connected to the tubing properly so it had to be fixed at the lab. It eventually took the last two drugs until 5:15 to be finished.
Dad snored through the treatment. He had been given something for nausea before the treatment. That along with him being so tired allowed him to rest soundly while the drugs were being administered.
Just as when he had his first treatment, Mom and I sat in his room with him. Maybe because he was sleeping so soundly, the mood was not as somber as before. We talked quietly to keep from disturbing him but also joked with the nurse about his snoring.
But I also couldn’t stop thinking about the pushing. The cancer pushing back in Dad’s body as the chemo was getting out of his system. How the doctor said they needed to push back, be more aggressive in the treatment. How the nurse was slowly pushing the drug into his veins.
Pushing. How often do we feel bombarded, or pushed around, by the cares of life? Sin pushes against our desire to live a Godly life. Walking Christ-like is not easy – it requires us pushing, being persistent and persevering in our faith.
Sin is like that cancer. And like the radiotracers used in the PET scan, our natural desires, the part of us that is not saved, is attracted to sin. In order to stay close to God, we have to be aggressive in our fight against that sin.
And when we commit our ways to the Lord, when we fight the fight of faith, when we push away from the sinfulness of this world, the Lord gives us sweet rest. Peace. We may even snore a little because of being so relaxed in God’s hands.
We just have to keep pushing, in the strength of our Lord, against the evil things pushing against us.
Dad stayed in the hospital until Saturday. Since coming home, he has had good days and bad. Please continue to pray for him as he keeps pushing on.
Keep Pushing, Daddy.
The Children of Israel fought many battles to take possession of the Promised Land. However, they knew the battle was not won because of their strength, but because of the strength of their God. We have the same God and He will be as faithful to help us fight our battles as He was to them.
Psalm 44 (NIV)
1 We have heard it with our ears, O God; our ancestors have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago.
2 With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our ancestors; you crushed the peoples and made our ancestors flourish.
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.
4 You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes.
6 I put no trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory;
7 but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.
8 In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever.
David was surrounded by his enemies time after time. When things looked the worse, God, in His Sovereign timing, gave David the victory. We, too, are in a battle. But in God’s timing, not ours, we will be victorious.
Psalm 118 (NIV)
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.”
3 Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.”
4 Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.”
5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
11 They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
12 They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.
God can and will calm our storms. And when the storm subsides, there’s perfect peace.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. Luke 8:24 (NIV)