Thursday, July 18, 2013

Leukemia's Sanctuary

It's been a week since Dan had a testicular mass removed during an uneventful, successful surgery at Georgetown.  It's been a week of hoping that Dan had testicular cancer and that he was just the unluckiest guy in the world to get two different types of cancer by age 32.  A week of ice packs, Percocet, naps, parties, batisms, and birthdays.  Dan's cancer is ALL.  For the fourth time, we've been shocked and knocked down by the words "the biopsy showed leukemia".  This time, hiding in its notorious sanctuary site.  A place that's resistant to chemotherapy and a sanctuary for leukemia to go unseen.  A place treated with extra doses of radiation that we'd hoped would keep it away.

Today we'll spend the day at Georgetown meeting with our urologist and hem-onc team.  The urologist will discharge us after checking the incision site and then we'll make our way to the Lombardi center we've come to call a second home.  Of course, Dan can look forward to a bone marrow biopsy to evaluate his marrow and see if there are abnormal cells developing there.  He'll also have a spinal tap to check the brain fluid for leukemia hiding in its second favorite sanctuary.  The results of these tests will be back next week and our teams will collaborate to come up with a unique regimen of treatment to kick this cancer yet again.  We'll meet with our doctor Monday the 29th to get started.

Leukemia is smart.  Treating it is hard.  It runs through the blood but also hides in the testicles and brain fluid and can go undetected sometimes.  These two "sanctuaries" are resistant to chemo and need to be targeted specifically if leukemia develops there.  It's possible that the leukemia cells are limited right now only to one sanctuary site and have not developed yet in his marrow.  There is a range of possibilities that only test results will confirm, but we're praying it's restricted to the testicles right now.  Treatment options vary as well so I won't speculate here until we have more information.  For now, just pray we caught it soon and that the spinal tap and bone marrow biopsy come back clean.

We're doing okay and hanging in there.  We've learned from doing this so many times now how to balance tears and fears with moments of joy.  We give ourselves time to be sad, to cry, to lament in sorrow and then we drag ourselves out of that place and into the present.  The here and now of this very moment.  Dan is feeling great, we have each other, I'm not working and neither is he.  Mornings are hard but we're approaching today with hope that test results will come back clear of leukemia.  We're going to enjoy our weekend and put this aside as best as we can.  As always, we'll find little joys in spite of leukemia.  

Thanks for the outpouring of love and prayers yesterday and as we prepare for battle again.


  1. Ugh. you guys. So much strength in you each. So sorry for the extra battle ahead - the grieving part is necessary, I know...beyond that, there is the visible truth that you have the resources to deal with this, and you will, beautifully, as you have each and every step of the way thus far! Your love is deep and apparent always. Dan, all our love to you bud - and PRAYERS! You know the Healer and He has your back. (head, blood, lymph, etc etc etc!) Knowing He's with you in this all. Fight hard, knowing ALL will be well. In His Love, the Pattersons

  2. Seeing the timestamp on this post makes me think you probably didn't get much rest last night. I hope after todays tests you both can rest and get back on your feet after yesterday's news. I honestly don't know how you both remain so resilient in the face of such adversary - but you do, and you continue to inspire everyone of us who is thinking, praying, and hoping that this cancer will finally let you live your lives in peace.
    Love you guys

  3. Mauree and Jason ShottJuly 18, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    You are constant reminders to our family to always be grateful for the joy of the present moment. We pray that you continue to seek and find the simple joys present in each other each day. Thank you so very much for having the strength to share your journey. As always, we are with you in prayer!

  4. Stay strong Dan! You got this!