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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Stereotactic radiation – the sequel

“We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him, our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.”  Psalm 33:20-22

I think we’ve caught our breath since returning home in the wee hours Sunday morning.Okay, probably not but I know I need to update you on the latest in this ongoing cancer saga. As a dear friend told me recently, she looked forward to the day I was healed and my life was boring (in a good way). I am in total agreement. At the very least, let’s pray the “conflict” aspect of this chapter has reached its climax.

To recap my time at MDA last week, I made two trips to Houston, had six doctor’s appointments, 2 MRIs, 1 CT Scan, 1 PETscan and underwent my stereotactic radiation pre-imaging. I spent over six hours lying as still as possible on not-so-comfortable tables (in some precarious positions, no doubt), and spent over 21 hours traveling in a car. What does that mean to you? Probably not much at all except you can understand why my lower back and hip/pelvis have been more aggravated than usual and why I just might be glowing when you see me. (There’s no question I will be glowing after next week.) At times when I feel incredibly weary (like today), I just look at my calendar and am reminded that metastatic cancer can be an all-consuming ordeal – it dictates my schedule, it never escapes my thoughts, it takes an obvious toll on my body, and it is refining my walk with the Lord.

Just to refresh everyone, the results from last week indicated my right forearm and C7 vertebrae were clear from cancer!! Praise the Lord!! However, the scans also revealed the cancer has spread to my T2 and L2 vertebrae as well as my left hip/pelvis. The next steps for my treatment include taking Votrient (a chemo pill) every day which also requires weekly monitoring of my blood work/blood pressure/liver enzymes. I will also be getting a monthly bone strengthening shot and undergoing stereotactic radiation next week to the cancerous areas (see schedule below). I enrolled in a molecular study we hope will result in more personalized and effective treatments, and I was released to start hand therapy, which commenced today,.

My stereotactic radiation is scheduled for next week at MDA. We are so thankful for the quick turnaround as we hope it will decrease my pain, and of course, kill the cancer. Aside from a few other appointments I hope to schedule, this is what my radiation schedule looks like next week . . .

Monday, Nov 18  stereotactic radiation to T2 vertebrae
Tuesday Nov. 19  stereotactic radiation to L2 vertebrae
Wednesday, Nov. 20 - stereotactic radiation to hip/pelvis (one angle)
Thursday, Nov. 21 - stereotactic radiation to hip/pelvis (another angle)
*** I’ll celebrate my big 3-5 with a little “death to cancer” party.***
Friday, Nov. 22 – stereotactic radiation to hip/pelvis (another angle)

Each of these treatments takes approximately two hours (with ample pre-treatment simulation and around 45 minutes of radiation). Each treatment is scheduled to begin at 1:30pm. The type of radiation I’m receiving is incredibly targeted, and thus far, has been the most effective treatment in destroying this rare cancer.

It’s actually quite fascinating. Instead of going into great detail about the process, you can read more on my June 3rd, 10th, 11th posts. I won’t be wearing a mask this time; however, my body will be draped in an industrial-sized garbage bag (of which my head and arms stick out). It is suctioned to my body which is firmly molded into a customized bean bag-like form so I won’t move an inch during these highly targeted treatments. My neck and abs are marked up like an airport runway to help the physicists and doctors to precisely match the radiation beam with the cancer. (All of the markings took place during my pre-imaging last Friday.) The bag has also been marked (including my pelvis location) to doubly ensure complete accuracy. As I said in a previous radiation post, this procedure is performed by the most OCD (and brilliant) humans on earth. For this, my heart is spilling over with gratitude!!

Although there are laundry piles and stacks of mail run amuck, our little family has enjoyed being at home for the week. I started hand therapy today and really enjoyed my therapist, Debbie. When I’m around, I’ll be seeing her three times a week. She spent a great deal of time with me wrapping her mind around all that has been done to my arm. She was impressed by how much functionality I had without an ulnar nerve – I credited God and Dr. Lin. Alexa enjoyed returning to gymnastics and we will both enjoy BSF tomorrow. We celebrated this evening with three-year-old birthday girl, Miss Liberty, and I have lofty aspirations of decorating the house for Christmas – at least getting a few things out before we head back to Houston. I just LOVE this season and want to soak-up every minute.

- This will be an ongoing request – For both the Votrient (chemo pill) and stereotactic radiation to be effective in totally stopping and eradicating ALL cancer from my body. No recurrence in forearm or C7 vertebrae. NO MORE CANCER!!
- I am only taking half of the recommended dose for Votrient, so we pray for minimal (or no) side effects so I can increase my dosage.
- I still haven’t heard if my bone-strengthening shot has been approved. It would be great to get that started.
- For pain relief in my lower back & hip/pelvis.
- For increased functionality of my hand through hand therapy.
- For rest, contentment and gratitude as we continue to adjust to the reality of our lives right now, especially when all I want is to be a healthy, normal wife & mommy.

As the passage in Psalm 33 states above, we are waiting with great expectation and hope in the Lord. He is the ultimate healer, and we pray this season of waiting is increasing (not diminishing) our trust in Him and what He can do. It’s a moment-by-moment exercise to take captive thoughts of fear, discouragement, what-ifs and woe-is-me. Our desire is to remain grounded in Truth (not statistics) and the Solid Rock who is our Father.


  1. Kelsey, Tamara referenced your blog on Facebook and now Joe and I are following and praying for you. Your daughter is adorable!! Prayers! Joe and Emily Laird

  2. Kelsey (and family), we continue to pray for you several times a day. Please let us know if you need ANYTHING. Seriously. We obviously have a little bit of empathy with what you're going through and think of you often.

    Corey and Melinda

  3. Dear Kensey and Kennedys: thanks so much for the post. So much isn happening so rapidly. Praise God!!!!! Will keep you all in our prayers - more specifically next week at the times you have listed. We love you. Sharl and Doug Taylor

  4. Sorry about the misspelling of your first name - Kelsey !!!! Hit the wrong key - but does not change our enthusiasm in continuing to support you and your family. Blessings. Sharl Taylor

  5. Dear Kelsey and family, Thanks for the posts of your cancer journey. I think and pray for you, your doctors, and your family many times everyday. I pray that all of your prayer requests will be met. May God bless you all! Linda Oliver

  6. Continued prayers for you and your family.