• Sean Lee

04: In the midst of strange, victory

I took a bike today (I know, that's the strange thing: I mostly feel fine). Even though it was 43 degrees, when I usually put it off or go to the gym, covid-19 and the fact that it may be a long time before I can get out and bike again pushed me outside my comfort zone. I was listening to a Jesus Culture’s song, Defender.

You go before I know

that You've even gone to win my war

You come back with the head of my enemy

You come back and You call it my victory

You go before I know

that You've even gone to win my war

Your love becomes my greatest defense

It leads me from the dry wilderness

And all I did was praise

All I did was worship

All I did was bow down

All I did was stay still

Hallelujah, You have saved me

So much better Your way

Hallelujah, Great Defender

So much better this way

The Call Comes In.

I was having a great time - worshipping, surrendering my process, enjoying the fresh air - when a call came in. It was one of those “no caller ID” numbers, so I thought: “Telemarketer!.” But I answered anyway. I'm glad I did.

It was my attending physician, Dr. Sattva Neelapu from MD Anderson.

He had some news. THE news that I needed since my journey began - how do I get out of this hole? After the echocardiogram, bone marrow biopsy (that was a lot of fun) and complete PET scan, he told me:

  • a confirmation: my lymphoma is basically centered in my neck around the throat (where the tumor is - and it’s thickening, too - I can feel it) but ...

  • They also found a spot around my pelvic region. It’s small, but it’s bright enough to show up on the scan.

  • While they found negative results in my bone marrow biopsy (that’s good!) they still must grade it as a Stage 3 lymphoma since it’s above and below my diaphragm.

  • That means the RCHOP treatment must include 6 cycles of chemotherapy - 126 days. I’ll have my picc line installed at MDA next Tuesday and the infusion started Wednesday and Thursday.

  • So that's good news! Also, I’m planning on having the next 5 sessions in Roswell.

  • But wait - there's more: since I’m doing 6 cycles of chemotherapy, he doesn’t believe radiation therapy is necessary at this point (also eliminating the need for a thoracic spinal tap and chemo entered there). Further, he believes that there’s a 70% chance of cure, not just remission. Can't get better than that!

Of course things can change - I can relapse or there may be a hidden factor to mess things up. But he’s fairly confident (remember, this is all he does!) and will monitor my progress as necessary. So, at last, now the clock is ticking for Timmy the Tumor, it's time for him to go.

So to recap:

At this point, I have Stage 3 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma requiring 6 cycles of RCHOP chemotherapy. What makes me sad is that I need to get creative with all of you. For the most part - especially, now - I must be very cautious with a compromised immune system. Let us try Zoom, or Facetime or a plain-old-phone call or text ... but I cannot meet with you face-to-face just yet; I cannot sit down and get coffee; I cannot hold hands and pray with you; I can't see you at church, can't sing with you in choir, can't laugh in the hallways at your corny jokes ... it brings me to the brink of tears just thinking about it.

I know there is a purpose in this. I just have to learn it.

This much I know: God is good! I’ve learned a lot through this so far and I’m thankful that he trusts me with this trial. I also know I have a lot more to learn.

Lloyd Reeb (shared by John Drusedum) used a phrase that captures how I feel: I have been "incredibly ambushed by God's goodness." The overwhelming outpouring and generosity of the hearts of people that I love have left me dumbstruck. I am very grateful because things could be so much worse - I saw that roaming the halls of MD Anderson. I know this lymphoma is not a trifling inconvenience, but it’s looking very hopeful for a cure.

For that, I am very, very grateful! I love you all!

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