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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chemo no-go

There is nothing in me that wants to write a post tonight. I’m weary and my thoughts are all over the place - but I know more than anything - we desperately need your prayers. We need our great God to intervene in great ways for both my situation and a very dear friend’s, Melinda.

Today would have commenced my 5th round of chemotherapy but my oncologist, Dr. Keefer, felt it best to hold off on a treatment until we go to MD Anderson this weekend to reassess my progress.

My bloodwork is excellent, and overall, I feel good. However, there has been little to no change in the size of my tumor. If anything, I feel like it has grown a bit. Add into the equation the increased pain I’ve been experiencing and the fact three of my fingers are now tingling with mobility of my right hand decreasing, Dr. Keefer feels we may need to look at other options that might prove more successful (after all, I’ve been on this chemo 12 weeks). It doesn’t mean I won’t be back on this chemo regimen again, but Dr. Keefer wants Dr. Benjamin (my sarcoma doc) to take into account all of these variables plus my upcoming MRI to make the best decision about my treatment future.

I was a bit stunned and yet not-so-stunned by the news I wouldn’t have chemo today. (Keep in mind I don’t handle change well – I’m only spontaneous when I know what’s going to happen beforehand :) But, Chris felt like Keefer made the right call, and I trust my husband’s judgment. The big downer (among so many on this journey) is that there isn’t a targeted treatment for the cancer I have (Epithelioid Sarcoma). So, another chemo treatment will just be another best guess at how to kill the cancer. It’s like grasping at straws, and that doesn’t do my heart one bit of good. Plus, this next possible chemo is a hard hitter – requiring a hospital stay. Now, I’m not saying this will be the course of action. We have no idea at this point. I am just providing hypotheticals based on previous conversations. Regardless of the treatment plan, this is a God-sized task and we need Him to eradicate the cancer however He sees fit.

So . . . we would greatly appreciate your prayers as we head to MD Anderson this weekend as it will be a pivotal visit. We will be visiting with both my sarcoma doc (Benjamin) and my radiation oncologist (Brown) to check on my progress (via MRIs) and discuss my treatment future. Here’s my schedule . . .

3:00pm – Bloodwork
3:10pm – Chest X-ray
4:30pm – MRI of right forearm

9:30am – Dr. Benjamin appt (Sarcoma doc)
1:00pm – C-Spine MRI (C7 vertebrae)
2:30pm – Dr. Brown appt (radiation oncologist)

- For some encouraging, “whoopin’ & hollerin” news.
- Wisdom for both the doctors and for us as we make decisions on the best treatment plan for me & my family.
- For Chris and me to be able to think through all the questions we want to ask (even if they are hard) and to have the opportunity to have them answered.
- For a clean scan of my C7 vertebrae. To know the radiation (done 3 mos ago) has worked and the cancer is dead and/or dying and new bone is growing.
- For the tumor in my arm to remain stable (or to have shrunk some) and for the MRI to provide clarity as to why I am having more pain and tingling in my hand.
- For full restoration of my right arm
- For God to contain the cancer to my right forearm and C7 and for it to be eradicated forever.
- For God to guard our hearts and minds from the “what ifs” and keep our eyes and hope focused on Him. (These past couple of weeks have been dark and I am frightened often by the bad dream I’m living. It is sad when your three-year-old is used to seeing your constant crying. In fact, Alexa went to get a tissue for me today so she could wipe the tears from my face.)
- For this journey to point to Christ and His worth. I feel like there is so much more going on “spiritually” than what we can see.

If you would, please lift-up a dear, dear sister, Melinda. I have quoted her many times on the blog. She is one of two MDA “cancer-free” sisters (i.e. heroes) I look up to who has encouraged me greatly through her own journey and now my own. She is a believer of the truest kind and she exhibits a trust in our God that is unshakeable.

She recently found out she has a 1.5” tumor that has broken through the bone and is growing outside her skull. They do not know at this point if it is a recurrence of her original brain tumor or a radiation induced tumor.

She will have brain surgery tomorrow at MD Anderson, so the silver lining is that we will get to see her while we are there. I wanted to include her specific prayer requests as well because it never hurts to have the unified body of Christ lifting each other up.

- for safe travel to Houston next week for my family and me
- for Thursday night - that I will sleep soundly, and more importantly that my neurosurgeon, Dr. McCutcheon, will sleep soundly, so he will be refreshed and in top-notch form for my surgery (NOTE: Dr. McCutcheon will be flying in from South Korea on Thursday. Please pray that he will sleep soundly on the plane and not be jetlagged during my surgery!)
- for Friday - for peace and calm as Corey & I arrive at the hospital in the early morning, do a lot of waiting, have a pre-op MRI, and do some more waiting until they take me back to the OR
- for God to divinely guide my doctor's hands, so that all cancerous or dead tissue is removed but all healthy tissue is undisturbed
- for a competent anesthesia team - in November, my team did a world-class job, leaving me with little to no 'anesthesia hangover'.  I would appreciate bold prayers that God would provide the same anesthesia team for my surgery on Friday.
- for all MRI equipment & software programs used during surgery to be working properly, so any 'cuts' will be precise and accurate
- for peace & calm for Corey, my parents, and my in-laws while they endure the long day in the waiting room for my surgery to be completed
- for attentive & compassionate nurses, especially in the ICU
- for no complications, no seizures, no infections, and a quick recovery
- for all elements of my speech center to be left fully intact, and that I will be able to speak clearly right out of surgery
- for protection for my motor strip and for all functionality to remain intact
- that I will not be fearful, but trust in God's healing power, if any slurred speech or seizures occur
- for endurance & strength for my family, as they selflessly serve and take care of me in the hospital and at home
- and most of all, for God to be glorified in my life, and for the name of Jesus Christ to be proclaimed as Lord of All.

To end, I want to share a song Alexa and I have been singing today (between my sobs) that best describes where I want my heart to be. It doesn’t mean it is there all the time but where I want it to be.

Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher

I believe Melinda said it best in our texting conversation this evening, “Surely God has a plan for both of us, though it’s hard to see right now. Lord, we trust you with our bodies. We are yours. Surely, if you can rescue our souls, you can rescue our bodies. Trusting You.”

Amen, Melinda, Amen.


  1. Kelsey, you don't know me, but I am a college roommate of Shannon's. I have been keeping up with your blog and prayer requests for months, and wanted you to know that I am praying for you. Praying for healing, comfort, and rest. Just this morning before I read your blog, I was praying that this next trip to MD Anderson would be a positive turning point in your treatment. I will continue to pray.

  2. Kelsey, We love you so so much. Please know we are lifting you up. Hugs to all you Kennedys. Love, Annie Fuller

  3. Dearest Kelsey, Kennedys and Melinda. Doug and I will be praying for all of you. Praying that HIS peace will fill you and that both you and Melinda will come through this wholly healed. I personally have experienced the power of prayer a great deal in past months. Know it works. Love, Sharl and Doug Taylor

  4. Kelsey and Melinda,
    Please know that you are in my constant prayers for your treatment. My heart is broken thinking of all that you two are going through. God bless you both!
    Judy V.

  5. Hi Kelsey, I have a note I am working on for you- but I need this thought to get to you quicker than a note will travel.
    My heart is heavy for your recent news. Upon reading this entry, I immediately thought- this is not a surprise to God. As difficult as change is, I am so very thankful that God doesn't get surprised. We will never hear God say, "Hey, that is the first I have heard of this!! Now what am I going to do??"
    In fact we hear in:
    Isaiah 46:3-4 “Family of Jacob including Kelsey Kennedy, listen to me! All you people from Israel who are still alive, listen! I have carried you since you were born; I have taken care of you from your birth. Even when you are old, I will be the same. Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you. I made you and will take care of you. I will carry you and save you."
    I love this verse but in particular the promise of old age & gray hair.
    I am praying for your peace, joy and for the wisdom of God to be poured out onto all the physicians caring for you.
    Love you-
    Emily S.

  6. Praying, praying, praying!!! Love all of you so much. Reading your blog brings back lots of memories of things I went through and pray that soon these days will just be memories for you. Isaiah 41:10!! Shelly and Bob

  7. Hi Kelsey, I just got reading through a few of your posts and I had a quick question. I am involved in the cancer community and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance. Thanks! - emilywalsh688(at)

    PS. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your entire family.


  8. Hi Kelsey, This is Tammy. My husband, Matt and I met you and your family at The State Fair while our girls, the same age, rode rides together. Your father was kind and gave us your blog information. I haven't stopped thinking of you since and will continue praying. I hope you were able to enjoy your evening. What a beautiful night it was. Thank you for sharing your story with us and know that we are praying for you and your family.