Living

The second miracle

On Feb. 17, I was at the Tri-Cities Cancer Center in Kennewick for my fourth chemotherapy treatment. More importantly, I was about to find out the results of my third CT scan.

I was meeting with Dr. Thomas Rado and Mitra Turner, two of the people I was counting on to save my life from the lymphoma ravaging my body.

Three days after my first chemo treatment on Dec. 12, I noticed the grapefruit-sized lump in my neck had melted away, something I deemed the first miracle.

Now, I was looking for more.

Dr. Rado considered the CT scan after my third chemo as a "mid-term" look at how the toxic chemicals he was pumping into my chest were affecting the lymphoma. Was I nervous? To say the least. The results of this scan could give me a clue of whether the drugs were working, whether we should continue on the same course, perhaps whether I live or die.

On this day, I met with Mitra, who has been an oncology nurse for 21 years and has an impressive amount of letters after her name. When she walked into the exam room, she had a smile on her face. I took it as a good sign. She began to go through the scan report. I don't recall everything she said because she began to use words such as "profound" and "remarkable" as she talked about how the lymphoma was being affected by the chemotherapy.

The growths in my body had reduced by 25 to 50 percent in size, she said, adding that most of the reduction usually occurs later in the treatment as the chemotherapy breaks down the growths. The fact they were vanishing so quickly was nothing short of, well, remarkable.

My wife, Melissa, and I were on cloud nine. This was the best possible news we could hope for, short of the cancer being completely gone (an extreme unlikelihood, but we could dream).

Mitra said the progress indicated I might be done with this evil cancer after another three chemo treatments. I might not need eight. I might not need radiation. This was a long, long way from that first chemo back in December, when the odds were not in my favor.

After I was hooked up to the chemo drugs for my fourth treatment a few minutes later, I updated my Facebook status, pinged Publisher Rufus M. Friday on instant message, and sent a very happy note to the group of family and friends Melissa dubbed "Team Andy." Throughout the day, I received notes of happiness from around the world.

We are heading in the right direction, but we need one more miracle.

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