Today Patrick got to ring the bell indicating the end of his radiation therapy as he left the doctor's office. What a time of celebration as well as a time to "call all prayer warriors" to their knees.
The first "phase" of Patrick's treatment for rectal cancer is now complete. He took his last dose of oral chemotherapy today and completed his last radiation treatment this afternoon. Overall, both Emily and Patrick have tolerated these combined therapies well.
At this time, Patrick's most profound "side effect" has been fatigue. He says that simple tasks require much more energy than they used to. Additionally, over the past few weeks (the second half of this treatment phase) Patrick has been experiencing more "radiation symptoms" that have been uncomfortable. Basically, imagine having a severe sunburn in one of the most inconvenient places possible. Patrick has also lost a bit of his hair, but is not "bald" by any means at this time. He has NOT experienced any nausea or vomiting, and he tells me that the "side effects" have not been nearly as severe as he expected or feared. Praise God!
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Patrick now enters the "watch and wait" phase of this journey. There is no exact timeline as to what is expected over the next few weeks. Essentially, Patrick will have several weeks of "rest" to allow for his tumor to respond to the radiation and chemotherapy by shrinking. Patrick has a PET scan scheduled for June 13th, 2013 that will allow doctors to again view his tumor and the surrounding structures. They will be looking for tumor shrinkage activity with that scan. This rest period may last anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks, and Patrick may have additional tests performed or repeated as determined by his team of physicians. All of the information gathered during this time will be used to schedule and detail Patrick's surgery to remove the tumor in the future.
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Patrick and Emily have made several very specific prayers requests at this time. Please pray specifically for:
1. The tumor's continued response to chemo and radiation. Pray that the tumor shrinks.
2. Wisdom imparted upon the doctors as they make decisions about the proper timing and type of surgery Patrick will need.
3. That when the time for surgery comes, the tumor will have shrunk enough for Patrick to avoid a colostomy or ANY other sort of "devastating" surgical outcome.
4. Pray that Patrick's surgery will be as simple as possible and require the least amount of stress/intervention on his body.
Don't forget to PRAISE the Lord for Patrick's protection from severe "side effects" and for the evidence that Patrick's body is responding favorably to treatment thus far!