put some ICE on it

May 24, 2012

I started my new chemo, ICE (Ifosfamide, Carboplatin, Etoposide) today. It takes three days to complete my first round.

Day One: Today I was at the hospital from around 8:30am to 5:00pm. Yeah, long day. I got a picc line in my arm that will stay in for the three days. Besides having tubes coming out of my arm, the only annoying part is that I have to put one of those long, plastic gloves farmers use to deliver baby cows on my arm every time I take a shower.

After getting the picc line, blood work, and seeing the doc, I started the chemo sometime around 1pm with some pre-meds to prevent nausea and allergic reactions. Then I had to have 3 bags of the different ICE fluid medicines through my IV while taking some pills and a little bag of medicine that prevents blood clots in the bladder (which the ICE can cause). I know, it sounds complicated.  I don’t always know exactly what’s going on at all times, I just let the nurses do their thing.

I’m tired and a little dizzy when I walk around, but I will take that over being nauseous any day. Praise the Lord: I feel a lot better after having all of that chemo than I thought I would. Then again, it is only the first day.

Day Two: The day started out with me feeling really good. I was only at the hospital from 1pm to 5pm today because I didn’t have to see the doctor or anything. I just had to go straight to the infusion center to get the chemo. I started to get nauseous a little bit during all of it, and of course I am exhausted after.

Day Three: I definitely didn’t feel as good today as I did yesterday morning. Nonetheless, I was glad to get my last day of chemo over with. I was at the hospital from 1pm to 7pm…I had to wait longer than usual. For some reason, during chemo my neck and body started to feel really sore.

*****

Honestly, I’m feeling better than I anticipated after 3 days of chemo. I don’t feel amazing, but I’ve felt a lot worse after chemo before than this. (knock on wood)

I feel a little weak and nauseous today, but I’m glad that my body aches are gone. My immune system is expected to be fragile now so I have to get this shot tonight that is supposed to boost my white blood cells.

Let the conquering begin.

19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. -1 Peter 4:19

IN A NUTSHELL

  • Finished my first round of the new 3-day chemo (ICE).
  • Not feeling the greatest, but not the worst either. I’m thankful to feel a lot better after 3 days of chemo than I thought I would.
  • Three weeks from now I will get the same chemo again.

summer bummer

May 11, 2012

“You have cancer.”

“You have cancer, again.”

“You still have cancer.”

I’m not sure which of the 3 is the hardest to hear, but I got the third one today.

I started off today by going to the dentist for a check-up to qualify for the SCT (stem-cell transplant). Honestly, I dislike the dentist so much that I was dreading seeing the dentist about dental hygiene more than seeing the doctor about cancer. Everything went really well at the dentist, though it took forever and made me an hour late for my blood work at the hospital.

The nurse got the IV on the first try, so I was good to go. (it took 3 tries last time) Then on to see the doctor…

Though I could tell my mom was anxious, I had no doubt in my mind that I was going to receive good news today–until I saw my doctor enter the room. I could immediately tell from his presence that he wasn’t going to tell us what we wanted to hear. He basically came right out and told us that the two places in my neck/chest that we expected to be non-existent were still there and that though one had gotten smaller, the other had gotten bigger. So I didn’t continue with the third dose of Brentuximab (chemo) today, and I won’t be getting the SCT anytime soon.

By now I am kind of used to switching gears. When we finally think we know what is going to happen is when we find out that we don’t know what is going to happen. I prefer to have some sort of plan that may fail or change then have no plan at all. Though, we never really get a say in God’s plans.

New plan: May 21 I will start a new chemo called ICE. This one is going to be a lot more intense than the Brentuximab (the chemo I have been on for the last couple of months). ICE will weaken my immune system and make me lose my hair. It will be an all day event in the hospital for 3 days at a time. Then after 3 weeks I will get another dose of ICE. Two weeks after my second dose, I will get a PET scan to see if I am in remission again to determine if I can go on to SCT.

I have to admit that hearing this news is disappointing and a bit discouraging. When I am upset though, it is not because I think I’m not going to ever get better, it’s just because I can’t do all of the things I want to do, go all of the places I want to go, and be with all of the people I want to be with. I’m mostly upset about not being able to graduate next semester and having to be away from North Carolina for a long time.

I also miss what “summer” used to mean. But when I get facebook messages from people I don’t know, or haven’t talked to in years, about how God has used my story to touch their lives and inspire their faith, I am reminded that God is using me through these experiences this summer in ways that he couldn’t use me through pool parties, beach trips and fun in the sun. I have to keep in mind that there is a lot more gain in this, than there is loss.

25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. -Matthew 16:25 (NLT)

***

Thanks again for all of the prayers and for supporting Jared Hogan and me with the film this week. This film means so much to me as I am going through this because it gives me something to be excited about, and I think my story will be captured and put together effectively so that it can impact lives. To watch click here, www.chesliesstory.org

 

sneak peek

May 8, 2012

Just wanted to share with you a promo for the documentary Jared Hogan is working on. I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with Jared on this project over the next year to capture my story and use it as a tool to proclaim God’s faithfulnesss!

Click Here to Watch: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jaredhogan/cheslie

On this very morning one year ago, I was awoken by a phone call that would completely alter the course of my life. I had no idea a casual walk to the post office to check my mail (on the afternoon before) would turn into a not-so-casual visit to the health clinic the next morning.

To be honest, this past year has felt more like three. I almost feel like I’ve had a lifetime worth of things happen in a year’s time. I wouldn’t say I had my dreams crushed, just changed. Basically I thought this year was going to go like this: Be healthy, graduate, and get married all by May 2012. Let me reflect a little on how it really went: Get cancer, get engaged, miss a college semester. Beat cancer, plan a wedding, start a college semester. Get cancer again, cancel the wedding, finish a college semester.

While I was writing those last couple of sentences, I feel like I am talking about someone else’s life. How did all of that happen so fast? How did all that happen to me?

I think the more appropriate question is why did God choose me to go through all of this? What is He trying to get out of your average, awkward 21-year-old college student majoring in graphic design? I guess I’m gonna keep trying to find out.

If I knew in advance what was going to happen this year after someone telling me last May, “You’re not going to get married or graduate next May. Oh yeah, and you are going to get cancer a couple of times.” After punching them in the eye for being so casual about it, I would have said that there is NO way I could handle all of that! Which makes me wonder, how the heck did I make it here?

Maybe that’s part of why God keeps His will a mystery, so that we trust Him in stepping-stones instead of us being intimidated by the big picture and minimizing His power. I didn’t spend this whole year trusting God to get me through cancer per se, I spent this year trusting Him one treatment, one test result, one doctor’s visit, one needle…at a time. Then when I looked up and saw where I had made it to in my life, I realized that I actually was trusting God to get me through cancer. I have found that when you look back at your life, you realize that trusting Him in the smaller things is trusting Him in the bigger things. That’s how I made it here.

Though I have had some of the worst things happen to me, I have to honestly admit that this has also been one of the best years of my life. I’ve never felt so loved and blessed as I have in the past 12 months. If I experienced this much joy and gratitude from all the honor, selflessness, compassion, and Christ-like love offered and given by so many from the moment I first found out about the cancer, I can only image how joyful and glorified the Lord is by His children. So though it has been hard, it has been so wonderful at the same time.

“A life of great faith requires great faith.” Well, God has provided me with circumstances that require great faith, so now I just have to provide the great faith.