Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good Tidings of Great Joy

Winston Churchill in some of the hardest days of World War II said...

'To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder to do a special thing unique to him and fitted to his talents.

What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.'

I am not sure, but I do believe that there are many fine hours we all have opportunity to go through. And perhaps only at the end of life will we say which one was the finest. Indeed, only after much analyzing and personal insight will we correctly identify if that moment found us prepared or not.

Right now, Tiffany is going through one of those special moments. It is unique to her and is fitted to her wonderful abilities. What a blessing it appears that she is not only qualified but is worthy for the blessings she is about to receive.

Tiffany has been diagnosed with Hepatosplenic Gamma Delta T-Cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This is a rare cancer of the white blood cells found in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver. There have only been about 60 (though we found one source that said 100) documented cases which have been medically journalled about.

This all came about about six months ago (Approx March 2010) when Tiffany went in for an annual checkup (which we should all do). During that checkup, the blood sample came back with a low platelet count, low enough for the doctor to suggest to Tiffany to go see a blood specialist. So in June 2010, she went to a Doctor Stinnet at Utah Cancer Specialists (because many Oncologists are specialists in blood disorders) and he started watching Tiffany. She met with him a few times while he tested her blood and found that her spleen was enlarged. Though a great doctor, he was struggling to understand the symptoms which were appearing. A dive into genetics seemed to reveal nothing. Tiffany's father had very similar symptoms 14 years earlier, though no genetic similarity should exist based on the symptoms present (as far as we know at this time). In all cases, the doctor came back stumped. After a few months he made the decision to test for Hairy Cell Leukemia. A scary thought, but one that in many ways would be a blessing as it was easily treatable with a very high rate of long-term remission.

This called for a bone marrow biopsy. On a visit to the doctor in early November 2010, he did his initial biopsy and was able to get a piece of her bone (required for the biopsy) and was only able to pull only a small amount of bone marrow. There was enough to create a couple of slides and those were sent off to the lab for tests.

Having been worried for the bone marrow biopsy, Tiffany was relieved when that ordeal was over. The peace stayed for only a moment as the relief of having the procedure over turned to a waiting game for the results.

Results were expected the following week. A few hours prior to the appointment, the doctor called and asked Tiffany to come in and requested her to prepare for another bone marrow biopsy as the results were not conclusive and he needed another sample. So, poor Tiffany had to go back and get stabbed, poked, and went through excruciating pain one more time. Before the doctor performed the biopsy, he explained that the pathologists had suspicion for this T-cell lymphoma, but did not want to diagnose with just the two slides and needed enough to put it through a flow cytometer, enabling a better analysis and better diagnosis. To put it bluntly, the doctor was not happy with the diagnosis, mostly due to Tiffany's relatively good health, and wanted to ensure we got enough in the next sample to ensure accurate results.

The doctor took another test and the results came back confirmed the original diagnosis, and specified it as hepatosplenic T-cell Lymphoma. The doctor called around to Cornell and a few other hospitals to try to help confirm the diagnosis. Because Doctor Stinnet still did not like the diagnosis, he asked us to get a second opinion with the head of the lymphoma department up at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Dr. Martha Glenn.

So two days before Thanksgiving we headed up to HCI to have Dr. Glenn take a second look at things. Dr Glenn confirmed the diagnosis with us again, and explained that though rare and statistically unknown as to how the best way to treat it, that there was no option than to beat it. It gave both Tiffany and I some relief that the doctor was looking very optimistically at the situation. She ordered a PET Scan and a splenectomy to again, confirm diagnosis. It makes sense to be right about this before one proceeds with very intensive chemotherapy treatments, especially with one that is rare.

We went home and told family and friends of the results and many prayers have been offered on our behalf. Our family, along with our ward (church congregation), and many friends offered a fast on her behalf on Sunday, December 5th. We have been overcome by the kindness, generosity, and charitable acts that have been offered. We honestly feel that we don't deserve the well wishes and goodness people have been offering. So much that we honestly understand the scriptures meaning of receiving so many blessings that we don't have room to receive them all.

To all who have offered prayers, gifts, well wishes, etc, to you we say thank you. It's too bad that we don't realize the many good friends we have until we have to go through something like this. To know one is loved is one of the most exquisite blessings known to man. But the blessings have been more than tangible. We honestly feel the prayers and the warmth of the love from so many.

Some may ask, why me. Some may ask, why now. Some may say, this is hard. And to this, Tiffany balks and is grateful for the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ. Because in him there is peace. In him there is trust. In him, there is joy. To say that Tiffany has had a difficult time, would be an understatement. There was a period of turmoil as she tried to understand this disease. But when she caught a passing thought that the Savior is in control, that he is in charge, that he knows what we all go through, all anguish, all pain, and all heartache stopped, and healing, happiness, and enthusiasm replaced them.

She couldn't feel this way if she wasn't prepared. Through faith and testimony, and an understanding of the plan of our God, she has prepared herself for these opportunities that arise that may become her finest hour.

That I get to be a witness to this process, I am grateful, while prayerful. To which I want to share with all of you of what is happening; I, therefore, start this blog.

Asking for your prayers, faith, and courage,


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