This is me (Derek) writing this post. Since all the others have been written by my mother or my sisters I figured it was time I put in my thoughts. All my Chemo treatments are finished. All my Radiation treatments are done. After spending nearly half of the past year in the hospital (and the other half in neutropenic quarantine) I am finally finished.
Of course there is still much to be done. The scans and the check-ups will probably never cease, and getting physically/mentally back in shape will be a long road. But I'm ready to move on with my life. After a three year hiatus I will be starting school again in January and hopefully I can find a job.
I want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. I honestly could not have done this on my own. I have a wonderful family, both immediate and extended. I have amazing friends, both at home and abroad. I can't thank you enough. I thought it would be appropriate to write this final post. Hopefully there won't be any more need to update you about my health. Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Derek rang the bell at PCMC, signaling his final exit. They made a big fuss over him, of course. He's made some dear friends among the members of the staff there. We're happy he's home again. Doctors have recommended that he receive some radiation on his lungs, but Derek will make that decision after he recovers from this last chemo treatment. I can't tell you how thrilled we are to put the chemo chapter behind us and move on to new and better things (like college, spring semester). We have learned countless lessons throughout these past ten months, and we feel that our family has changed for the positive. Your faith and prayers have kept a dark and dismal cloud from settling in on us. That has made all the difference in the world. Thank you! Now we'll see what his hair looks like when it grows back. Blonde? Red?
Derek left on Tuesday for his 14th and concluding chemo cycle. (Somehow his timing has been such that every holiday has found him in the hospital!) We are told that 9 months of chemo is record time. We were originally told to plan on 12-18 months. Derek may need to have radiation on his lungs. They will discuss this with the radiologist while there, and will make those decisions later. We're praying that he will sail through this 5 day treatment with no complications, and that he can begin the healing process and move on with his life. We can't begin to thank all of you for your continued support!
It's taking longer to rebound from each treatment. It's a good thing we're near the end. On Tuesday Derek spent time at VVMC to receive platelets, then again on Friday to receive red blood cells and more platelets. We'll know tomorrow if he is finally ready for that last chemo cycle. We have wondered why he has done so well emotionally. Although this regimen has been harsh, he has been able to stay on top, keeping a positive outlook most of the time. Depression hasn't gotten in the way. We are convinced that your sincere prayers are keeping him healthy emotionally, as well as helping him heal physically. He is being carried by the prayers of those who care about him!
Dear Friends and Family,
For you who are trying to keep up on Derek's treks northward, I'm sorry. I'm lousy at updating this. By Friday he was physically able to go through another cycle, so he's now doing the 3-day thing at PCMC. He'll be home again on Monday. This is his 13th treatment (out of 14). It's taking him longer to recover between treatments, so who knows when the last one will be. We're hoping it happens before September. Thanks for hanging in there with us.
--Ever Onward, the Paynes
Well, we thought we were going back up to PCMC last Wednesday, but it had to be postponed again. He received another transfusion here in Cedar City, and is now physically ready for another cycle of chemo. Derek, Alan, and David will drive to PCMC this coming Wednesday for three days. (Sounds like a party!) Derek just sold all his rock climbing equipment, putting the "extreme sport" chapter of his life behind him. It was hard to do, but he didn't want the temptation in front of him. Since his spine may be compromised, he will look for other activities that are not as physically stressful. Biking, swimming, maybe? Definitely no marathons.
We just heard that our young friend, Erik, is cancer free. So thrilled for him!