On September 21 I finished teaching my 1st period class and texted Jake to see how his appointment to go over test results with our doctor went. I didn’t even go with him because we were sure the doctor would prescribe him some antibiotics and send him home. Jake replied to my text, “I’m outside by your car. Come talk to me for a second. :)”
We had our first conversation about cancer. The CT scan showed a mass in his chest that was likely Lymphoma. Jake left the doctor’s office scheduled for another CT scan, a biopsy of the mass, and a referral to the Intermountain Cancer Clinic.
The next few weeks dragged and flew by. We waited for results, did other tests, prayed and fasted, and sat in waiting rooms. Each doctor and each procedure held some variation of the phrase, “you guys are really young to have to go through this”.
At first it bugged me. It’s pretty obvious that we are young and this wasn’t exactly part of our plan. The past few days though I realized that I was missing the second part of the sentiment. The “you’re too young” stuff was always followed by. “You guys are doing really great though”. We are. Not by ourselves. With the help of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and all of the prayers and faith of all of you, we are.
Chemotherapy round 1 was yesterday. We spent the day at the hospital meeting with our doctor, doing some blood work, and a blood transfusion. (Per Jake’s request, they even added some horse blood to the mix... or so they told him. ;) ) Jake slept through most of the treatment. They had him all set up in a reclining lazy boy chair. When he was awake he was brought warm blankets and snacks. We ordered him a cheeseburger and a vanilla shake from the cafeteria. He said he could get used to treatment like this.
Our doctor, with a few more test results, confirmed that Jake’s cancer is Stage 4. It has spread to the bone marrow in some parts of his body. This doesn’t change treatment at all or the fact that we’re going for cure.
Chemotherapy is quite the process. One of the medications used in Jake’s treatment is bright red. It’s called Doxorubicin, but our nurse told us lots of people call it the “Red Devil”. She prefers another name though, the “Red Angel”. That medicine gives you the most grief during chemotherapy. It’s why your hair falls out, where the nausea and some of the other symptoms come. But it’s also the one that is really getting rid of those cancer cells.
Jake will experience some of the negative symptoms of chemotherapy. It is such a comfort though to know it’ll be for a good reason. We’ll manage all those side-effects. These medicines are getting rid of all of the cells that are trying to hurt Jake’s body.
After chemo last night I asked Jake if it was something he thought he’d be able to do a few more times to get rid of this lymphoma. We’re already scheduled for his next dose on November 1st. With his big orbit commercial smile He said, “Yep. We can do this.”
He’s right. Maybe that’s why we’re so happy.
A few months ago I made a list of some of the things Jake and I have accomplished in the almost 2 years we’ve been married. It included things like graduating with bachelor’s degrees in Communication Studies, making it through the pre-service program and becoming full time seminary teachers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We bought our first house and started our new jobs at Dixie and Hurricane High School. On that list I also wrote that Jake has “dealt with some health problems without complaint”.
Though he didn’t complain, these past few months we’ve seen 3 different doctors to diagnose his persistent symptoms. About 3 weeks ago Jake went to an insta-care doctor. The doctor decided to do a few tests including a chest x-ray. The chest x-ray was a little concerning so the doctor scheduled a CT scan. The CT scan showed a 4 inch tumor in his chest. The preliminary diagnosis was Lymphoma.
After a biopsy of the mass, we waited for results and had an appointment at the Intermountain Cancer Clinic. Jake has Stage 4 Classic Hodgkin Lymphoma. It is a very curable cancer. Our doctors are very confident we can get rid of it completely with 6 rounds of chemotherapy, 2 doses per round, which will take around 6 months. We start our first treatment on Thursday.
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks but we are hopeful, supported, and happy! I know that so many of you love Jake and want to know how he’s doing. I’ll update this blog for you. We’re relieved to know what’s going on and to have a plan. We’ll add “beating cancer” to our list of things we’ve accomplished so far in about 6 months.
I started this blog right after we were married to record all the things that make me happy as a wife. I didn’t think I would ever use it to update those who want to know about Jake’s cancer treatments. The beautiful part is, Jake and I are still really happy.
We’ve seen familiar faces at the hospital to help with procedures.
We’ve had incredible doctors, nurses, pharmacists, phlebotomists, and others to answer all our questions and help us.
We live in the perfect place to receive the care and attention we need. In fact, St. George has the most up-to-date technology and procedures available for Lymphoma patients.
We’ve had family and friends reach out and pray and fast for us. We feel it and we are so grateful!
The miracles haven’t ceased. This is a really curable cancer. One of the most incredible blessings we’ve seen is that Jake and I are closer than we’ve ever been. Maybe that’s why we’re so happy.
Thank you for your concern, love, and prayers everyone. We love you!
My name is Maddie Townsend Topham and I am a happy wife!