Here’s to an unexpected journey…

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I had been in Stillwater staying with my parents over the holidays for about 5 weeks. The first couple weeks were fast and furious with preparing for Christmas, going to Missouri for Christmas, and then New Years and Dad’s 50th birthday. Then, I ran out of things to do with my free time and let’s be honest, my days were filled with studying for my Board Exam which I am scheduled to take in July and planning my wedding (I am not engaged…yet) on Pinterest.

I had started back to school for a two-week seminar at Langston and decided to stay home a couple more weeks before returning to OKC for my last clinical rotation. One night before bed I was feeling the muscles in my neck which seemed to be tight from sleeping in an uncomfortable position when I felt a lump on the front of my neck and to the left a little of my throat. I realized it was abnormal but just thought I would monitor it to see if it grew at all the next couple of days.

On Martin Luther King Day, I was out of school and decided it had been a week and the lump was still there so I should probably see a doctor. I went to the doctor and he took a full history and did a ear, nose, and throat exam but could find nothing wrong with me. However, he knew that the lump was abnormal so ordered for me to have an ultrasound the following morning.

Tuesday morning, January 17, I went in for an ultrasound. I thought this was going to be no big deal. I figured I would go in, they would tell me what was wrong, and I would head on to school for the day. Boy was I wrong! The radiologist read the ultrasound and said that he was going to call my doctor. From there I had a chest x-ray, reviewed that with my doctor, and then had a needle biopsy of the lymph node in my neck. The radiologist and my family doctor both told me that day that they thought I may have lymphoma but the biopsy would confirm my diagnosis in 24-48 hours. There were a lot of tears shed that day. The unknown is very scary and all we knew to do was get on our knees and pray.

Wednesday morning I went to school and then that evening some of my family came in from Missouri to be there while we endured this excruciating wait period. Thursday morning I had to give a presentation at school and came home after that to wait for some news. That afternoon I received a call from my doctor saying that the pathologists differed in opinion and so they were going to need to send it on to some specialists and we should know a final answer by Friday afternoon.

Friday afternoon came and the doctor called for us to come in and get the news. My whole family went with me and that day we learned that our wait period was going to be even longer. My doctor felt awful but explained to us that there wasn’t enough tissue to know 100% what the diagnosis was. He explained that the pathologist suspected that it was Hodgkins Lymphoma but just needed more of the lymph node to be sure. From there I was referred to Dr. Armor at Mercy Hospital in OKC. In a matter of a few hours, I had a lymph node biopsy scheduled for Monday morning, a PET scan on Tuesday afternoon, and an appointment with Dr. Armor, the oncologist, on Wednesday afternoon.

Last week went by very quickly with all the appointments back-to-back. By the time Wednesday afternoon got here we were exhausted and very anxious to know what was going on with me. Dr. Armor came in and nonchalantly started talking about the PET scan and the biopsy. My dad finally had to interrupt him and ask what the diagnosis was since we could hardly handle anymore anticipation. He then told us that I had Hodgkins Lymphoma. We began looking at the PET scan and it showed that several of the lymph nodes in my neck, under arms, and chest are affected. The good news is that since it is above my diaphragm it is only Stage II. Also, Hodgkins is very curable. Dr. Armor went on to say that I will need 6 months of chemotherapy and we will try to avoid radiation if at all possible. I will have chemotherapy every other Wednesday for 2-3 hours. That day in his office he also did a bone marrow biopsy to see if the cancer is in my bone marrow and blood tests.

The last couple of things that needed to be done before the whole treatment process begins was a Pulmonary Function Test to make sure my lungs are healthy for chemotherapy and a shot to “put my ovaries to sleep.” Dr. Armor stated that 50% of people receiving chemotherapy become infertile. However, he also told us that my odds are good since I am young and healthy. This shot that he suggested is to improve my chances of staying fertile by making my ovaries dormant for the time being. (Please pray this works because I really want children someday!)

The next step in the process is getting a port placed tomorrow morning. This will be placed in my chest so that they can administer chemotherapy through this each time. I will also have a couple more lab tests done as well. The following day is my first day of chemotherapy. While I am not sure what to expect yet, I have heard lots of positive stories. There is a good chance I may not get sick or tired at all.

I have been so richly blessed through all of this so far. First of all I have an amazing God who gave me a sense of peace about all of this the minute I asked for it. I have felt his presence more than I ever have before. He deserves all the glory and I trust that this is all part of his perfect plan. Secondly, I have the most amazing family and boyfriend. They have not left my side for one second and for that I am so grateful. They have been my rock when I needed anything at all and I love each of them dearly. Lastly, I have such an amazing group of friends and extended family. The text messages, flowers, cards, phone calls, scriptures, etc. have been overwhelming and I am so thankful. God definitley shows his love through the people he puts into your life.

Although I am nervous about the journey ahead, I have no doubt that God will be with me every step of the way. My cousin has been sending me scriptures that I try to repeat in my head when I get scared and the one that has stuck out to me the most is Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” I have faith that God is using me each and every day.

14 responses »

  1. Brittany, I have just gone down the path that you have begun. Prayer and chemo work wonders! I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in January 2011. I went to MDAnderson for a second diagnosis and it was confirmed! I asked if I could have my chemo in Stillwater since we have a Cancer Center. He said he would check. He checked about the local hospital, the Cancer Center, and the oncologists. He came back with the report that I could have it here since “they have everything” I needed. I had my chemo here (local doctors were in communication with the doctors at MDAnderson through the process!) and my experience at the Cancer Center was excellent. I have had none of the negatives usually associated with Lymphoma….no nausea, no energy drop. I have lost my hair, but the wigs now are awesome. Everyone tells me I look better with my wig that my natural hair. I am not sure what my response should be to that comment! I just want you to know the excellent results I have had on the journey you are beginning! My lymphoma was declared “gone” in October. I go back every 3 months to repeat all tests (except bone marrow) for the first year, every six months for the second year and annually for 5 years. You are on our family prayer list as well as our church.

  2. Britt,

    You and I have been side by side since we were little. Your home was my second home. As I think about some of the memories that are so true to my heart, you are in every one of them. I love you so much and will always be here for you. I look up to you so much for how strong you have been. I will continue to pray that God will give you peace and a sense of comfort. I love you Britt.

  3. Brittany, Our God is amazing… your ability to write this … your willingness to share… its is supernatural – it is from God. I believe you when you say you are at peace – you are an inspiration with your faith. Today’s devotion from ‘Jesus Calling’..talked about following Jesus one step at a time…from this blog – looks like you are being obedient. Way to Go! and in Ps 91:11 ” He will give His angels charge over you to guard you in all your ways”

  4. I have been praying for you the minute emily shared the news. our church in Talala is also praying. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 41:10. Sometimes when I have to go through something hard I write it down and carry it in my pocket. “fear not for I am with you;Be not dismayed for I am your God, I will strengthen you, Yes I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

  5. Brittany- I love you so much! You are such an amazing young lady. You have been blessed with such strength and a positive attitude which is great encouragement to all of us. Remember to continue to meditate on what is true. You continue to be in our thoughts and prayers throughout the day. We all love you so much!
    Bryan, Hollie, Jake and Grace

  6. Pingback: Philippians 4:13 | Faith Hope Love

  7. Britts,
    First I want to say that I totally admire you for your strength and faith. Not many young women your age would be handling all this so well. Secondly, thank you for doing this blog. We have had so many questions but hated to bother you with yet another phone call or text!! We love you and are praying for you!
    Carissa

  8. What an amazing story you have to tell and an inspiration that you are! I had to laugh at your first paragraph because I too have been “planning my wedding” via pinterest. Isnt it the best!? Not engaged….yet:) Follow Amy & Jocey…they pin wedding stuff only. Will be thinking about you this week as you do your first treatment. xoxo

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