Lorelei thinks about the timing of finding this cancer. The middle of her senior year of high school. Yeah, it sucks that she'll have to be bald for her senior prom. But God's timing is perfect. Lorelei is a Christ follower. There are over 2,000 students at her high school who have known this about her as she has always identified as a Christian. But now, there are 2,000 pairs of eyes really focused on her. Watching to see if this Jesus stuff is real. If this cancer had been detected any later, she might have missed the opportunity to glorify God in front of 2,000 kids who are about to enter the world searching for their own purpose in life. Please join us in praying for these students and the staff at Putnam City North High School. We believe God is at work in a huge way and Lorelei just gets to have a front row seat.
Here's some background on the months leading up to Lorelei's diagnosis:
Have you ever itched so badly it felt like you drank poison ivy and were itching from the inside?
That's how Lorelei described the feeling when she'd have a skin episode. These episodes began two years ago. None of the doctors we visited could explain them. She itched. But there was no reason. Maybe it was eczema. But that wouldn't really explain it because it did not always start with a visible rash. Sometimes a visible rash would come later. In fact, Lorelei developed this phenomena called "Dermatographia" which we thought was fascinating. With this, if she scratched her skin it would welt up and stay red and swollen for several hours. Dermatographia happens when skin cells are abnormally sensitive to injury and release histamine. The doctor advised her to take Zyrtec and that seemed to help minimize the welting when she would experience itchiness.
Hindsight is 20/20. As we look back now, these might have been early signs of a problem in Lorelei. But it is also likely that an x-ray or ct scan performed back then would have shown no swelling in her lymph nodes in her neck or chest. Often there is a rash or itchiness that precedes or accompanies Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The breathing issues began toward the middle of 2011. An x-ray taken in July 2011 showed she had pneumonia. Of course, since they were looking for pneumonia, it is exactly what they saw. This x-ray was never seen by a radiologist. There was actually a shadow in the mediastinal area even at that time. It was certainly much smaller in July 2011 than it was in January 2012.
Over the six months between July and January Lorelei had several visits to doctors and took several rounds of steroids to treat what was always called asthma or bronchitis. She even had sinus surgery in August. But they didn't take a chest x-ray before that surgery.
All in all, we are very grateful to have found Lorelei's cancer when we did. If I had not insisted on the chest x-ray even when it was not medically indicated (per insurance company standards) we wonder how long it would have grown before diagnosis. As it is, we caught it as a stage 2 cancer. It is massive enough in her chest to need six months of chemo and a month of radiation, but thankfully, it had not spread to her spleen and liver. Also, her bone marrow was clear. I shudder to think what might have happened if it had not been found when it was.
The health lesson I hope you take away from our experience is this: Follow your instincts. If you feel something is not right, speak up. Don't settle for a "best guess" or the least expensive route to just any diagnosis. Take charge of your health and get pushy with your healthcare professionals. Doctors seem to be pressured to avoid prescribing certain tests for whatever reason. But if you feel like something is just not right, don't be afraid to be "that patient."
And if you have any questions for us, please ask. It helps us to know that our experiences might have the purpose of making someone else's journey a little easier.