In the time of need, it is always comforting to know that we are not alone. While Carlene's diagnosis has been devastating and took us all by surprise, God is good! Today was my day to get paperwork in order, transfer Carlene out of her high school and into the home study program, and discover what options I have with my work. Turns out that I at sometime in the past had signed up for the catastrophic leave program. This program will be a lifesaver for us! It allows me to take time off work, with full pay, for up to 12 months. God willing I will not have to use it all. This program has relieved a huge stress/concern of ours! John has been out of work since July and times have been overwhelmingly difficult in a financial standpoint. I thank God that Carlene's cancer was discovered early and that it is treatable and that I can take time off work to be with her!!! I am also extremely thankful that I work with some of the best co-workers and that I have an extremely competent substitute covering my class. I have no worries that my students will continue to receive a wonderful education during whatever time I need to take off work.
Everyone wants to know...How did we know?...Why did we go to the doctor in the first place? Just before New Years, Carlene had a lump appear on the left side of her neck. Her sister, Olivia, noticed it first and within an hour it had grown to measure 6 cm. and seemed to be floating in fluid. We went immediately to our doctor who thought it was some type of allergic reaction and prescribed her medication for the next 4 days. When that did not work, he decided to perform a blood test to check for mono...when that came back negative, he sent her to a specialist who sent her immediately in for a CAT scan...then a biopsy the next morning. The next 2 days were the longest in our life...then the results...not only did she receive the news of the cancer, but along with it came a restriction to horseback riding and any other physical activity. Seems she has several large lymph nodes near her esophagus and if they were to enlarge like the one in her neck, her air supply would be cut off. What caused the lump on her neck was the enlarged node causing a blood vessel to rupture, probably due to physical activity. This caused the node to come to the surface where it was visible. So once again, I thank God that we had animal pens to clean and horses to ride so that Carlene could be physical and not be a couch potato! Carlene shows no other signs, which is a good thing, means we caught it early. Hindsight...there have been some signs, but they were not enough to warrant a doctors visit. This past semester Carlene has missed more school that ever in her life for not feeling up to par. There were several days that she got up and got ready for school, just to go back to bed. She could not pinpoint what was wrong, she just said she did not feel well. She also took forever to get over a cold when everyone else only had it for a couple of days. So there were signs, just not consistent enough to think anything was wrong.
Thank you all for your prayers and support! Your emails and calls were much appreciated. We will keep you up to date on everything through this blog. You can also leave messages through this also...this blog thing is all new to me, but seems to be quite useful when so many people want to be kept informed.