This is the last post from Shannon’ first battle with cancer. As you have read, it was not pretty, but there is beauty throughout the posts. God does not guarantee a perfect life, here on earth. He does promise eternal life for those that believe and have faith. These posts have been extremely hard for Shannon to read, as you can imagine. These images, and words, and memories were shelved by us buried really, and reposting has brought them back. We discussed how far we have come and look back with some relief. In this post we were reminded her battle was not just with cancer but with anemia. The medication she had to take was brutal on her body. Enduring the chemo and radiation was hard enough but adding on this additional medication and treatment pushed her to the brink. Shannon is strong, and courageous. She is a fighter and demonstrated a grace through adversity, I can only look back on as inspiring. Throughout her journey she was looking to give back to others and to help. This continues to this day. As I type this post, she is busy working on creating a special project as the first of many to help inspire others through action, by being a Ripple for others. Shannon is drawn to a quote from Mother Theresa that encapsulates her life mission:
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
Shannon is a ripple maker and wants to inspire everyone to be a ripple for others, and on, and on. We hope you will find inspiration and encouragement from these posts, to see that life is difficult, cancer sucks, but with faith in God, and a team of encouragers, anything is possible.
Journal entry by Kevin Beasley — 3/1/2014
It is a little after 7 am on Saturday, March 1, 2014. Shannon is downstairs with Jack and Sydney is sleeping over with a friend. Let me tell you why I am glad Shannon is downstairs with Jack and not up in the bed. A little history for everyone since it has been awhile since I last posted.
Shannon has Hemolytic Anemia. Her red blood cells are being destroyed and removed. We don’t know if this is related to her earlier treatment or if it is inherited. We may never know, we just want to control it. Shannon was referred to a Hematologist because her red blood cell count was low. Her first course of treatment was Prednisone, which from the last post I said was a blessing and a curse. Prednisone carries some significant side effects such as swelling, moon face, weight gain etc. Shannon was able to taper off the Prednisone last month, but upon checking her blood levels they put her back on 5 mg (She started at 60mg) they also recommended a treatment called Rituxan, which is given via Infusion (IV) every Friday for 4 weeks. Yesterday was Shannon’s 3rd treatment. Let me tell you about this and I will be able to explain why I am glad Shannon s downstairs with Jack right now.
Two weeks ago, Shannon and I went to have her first Rituxan treatment. The doctor said it would be easy, nothing like chemotherapy and she should be good to go with no real side effects. Well if you know Shannon’s journey, she can’t do anything like everyone else. She had concerns as she has VERY small veins and having an IV is difficult because of the veins. They run the IV at the lowest rate using a pediatric needle. So the first treatment took all day and she did not even get to finish the full bag of Rituxan. Let me back up and explain what Rituxan does. This is my non-medical mind relaying this, so if you want a better description google Rituxan for Hemolytic Anemia. So here goes…Rituxan is putting good antibodies into her blood to reprogram her T-cells at a molecular level. These antibodies will take over and let her body calm down by not attacking her red blood cells. The hope is she will be removed from prednisone and her red blood cells will remain stable. This is our hope. Ok back to the first treatment.
They did warn us that most people will have an allergic reaction on the 3rd bump up (they increase the infusion rate over time as the body adjusts to the medicine going in). Because Rituxan is a blend of hamster, yes you read that right, hamster and human antibodies people have an allergic reaction. Knowing this they give patients Oral Tylenol and IV Benadryl. Shannon had an allergic reaction, which was flushed face and throat swelling. She said it felt like marbles in her throat. The nursing staff knew it was the 3rd bump when they came over (they said later it took less than 5 minutes after the 3rd bump and they had been watching her). They stopped the treatment and gave her an IV steroid and let saline run for 30 minutes then resumed the treatment. We ended up leaving at 4:30. Shannon was tired from being there, tired from the Benadryl, tired from a sore throat and just overall YUCKY! This continued the rest of the evening and all of Saturday. She could not do much on Saturday, not even go to Jack’s basketball game. On Sunday she felt better but not great. I think it was into Monday before she felt normal and guess what, Friday was around the corner for #2. Shannon, like she has during her WHOLE ordeal, put on a brave face and said ” I only have 3 more. I can do this”.
For treatment #2, Shannon’s mom went with her. My parents were in town to see Jack’s basketball game, so they were able to be with the kids and I went to work. Her second treatment was much like the first. She had the reaction, they stopped and repeated the procedure from the first treatment. She was there from 8:30 to at least 3:30 or so. She came home, tired, feeling crappy same as the week before and unable to see Jack’s game.
Let me tell you about Jack for a minute. Jack has played B-ball for 3 years now. I may be biased, but the boy can play. He is better at his age than I was. He played for the YMCA’s team for seven and eight-year-old kids. He is fast, can shoot, defend, steal, pass, rebound etc. He must have had good coaching, (I have been his coach for 3 years (Smiley face)). Shannon did get to see him play the last game of the season, which was Tuesday. Our team struggled as we had some new ball players who had never played. We got to play a team of similar stature. Because the game was on Tuesday, we had a low turnout (games were usually on Saturday and Practice on Thursday) so we had 5 players show up and not our best players. The 2 other players that could really play were not there. Jack ended up putting the team on his back and scored 13 of the 15 points for the game. We went into overtime but lost 15-17, but Jack really turned a corner in that game and Shannon said that will be a defining game in his career because he really came into his own. We are so proud of him and he is proud of himself.
We get to yesterday. Shannon was DREADING Friday coming. Most people are looking forward to Friday-not Shannon and not for the last four Fridays. Everything seemed to go right yesterday. We got in at 8:30, they took her blood by finger prick to check her numbers, we got into the Infusion room and they decided to go ahead and give her the steroid boost along with the Benadryl. Shannon took some Gas-X before the treatment. It all worked, no reaction, we were out of there by 1:30. She felt good, a little hazy from the Benadryl, but good. She wanted to go to Hobby Lobby to get yarn (Shannon has learned how to crochet and is never without yarn and or needles, I am not sure what the tools are called. She was very moved as our church has a prayer shawl ministry, where folks can turn in prayer requests and someone on the team will make a shawl, pray while they are making it for their person and the shawl is given to them with a note. Shannon received one this summer and was moved by the gesture and the shawl. She learned how to crochet and has been making them for folks she knows that need prayers, her way of giving back.
So today is a good day. She is not in bed. She is downstairs with Jack, probably playing Lego or Harry Potter on the X-Box. She loves those Lego games. She has been on me for posting an update so this time I made it extra-long. Shannon still needs prayers and encouragement. I did not go into it too much and will in another post, but she is still struggling with swelling though, in her abdomen, not so much in her legs, and is extremely uncomfortable. She wants to exercise, lose weight, feel normal and yet she can’t. Normal is not quite here yet. She is still fighting, and I feel like she needs a break, so my prayer requests are that God continues to bless her with good days and that Normal is right around the bend. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support.