The test results for the lumbar puncture came back. There is no sign of any infection, thank goodness. Unfortunately, the pathologists did find cancer in my central nervous system (CNS). The good news is that it’s a very small amount (only two cancer cells were detected in the sample of spinal fluid). In fact, the dose of chemotherapy I had with the previous lumbar puncture (LP) probably killed whatever cancer cells that were lurking around in my brain and spine. This may be an explanation for the headaches I was having last week.
The less-than-exciting news is that now I will undergo a regimen of chemotherapy to be delivered via LP. Until my spinal fluid shows zero cancer, I’ll have two LPs (and two doses of chemotherapy) per week. Once there is no sign of cancer, the frequency drops to one per week for a month, and then once a month for a year. So, best case I’ve got 17 lumbar punctures to go. The caveat is if I get radiation before the transplant, then no more LPs. Not sure which is the lesser of the evils.
During the LP, the doc numbs your lower back with Lidocaine and then inserts a needed between two vertebrae into your spinal column. She’ll draw a sample of spinal fluid, and then deliver the chemotherapy. If all goes as planned, it’s relatively painless. During my first LP, however, the vertebrae were too close together in the spot where the doc inserted the needle. That was a rather unpleasant experience. The second spot worked fine and was painless.
This obviously wasn’t the news we were hoping for, but it could have been much worse. I could have had a large amount of cancer cells in my CNS, but instead I had a very small quantity. We could have caught this disease too late, but rather we caught it soon after it developed. I could be going through all this alone, but I have a loving wife, family, friends, and church body to support me. I could have been born a Wildcat, but thankfully I’m a Volunteer.
When I get news like this, I wonder if God has me experiencing these things to refine the perspective that He is giving me in all this. I was praying for only one round of chemo and then getting on with life. Instead I need a transplant and have a year of LPs ahead of me. But, if this is what God, in his infinite wisdom, has for me in order to fulfill His purposes, then so be it. I’m still not happy about it, but I accept it and I trust Him.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8, 9 NIV)