Some Sort of Routine…

We recently passed the mid-point for Angie’s chemotherapy so it seems a good time for an update. I know it’s been a while, sorry ’bout that! Last Thursday (not Thanksgiving, the one before that…) was her 4th session, by far the worst to date. She was so wiped out last weekend that she couldn’t manage to stay awake to watch the last 5 minutes of the Dallas/Redskins game! Fortunately for her, we (the Redskins) crumbled as usual inside of the last 2 minutes, so her pre-game smack talking stands and I didn’t get the chance to rub an upset in her face. Oh well, maybe next year.

The fatigue has gotten more severe each time, as have the flu-like aches and pains. She is feeling the effects more quickly after treatment, and it takes her longer to rebound. This treatment she dealt with severe nausea for the first time. One thing we are very thankful for this week is that her red and white blood cell counts are at reasonable levels after dropping very low around her third treatment.

She’s done now with the first 2 chemotherapy drugs, so starting this week she will be on a third drug for the next 4 sessions. (Taxol, for those keeping score). This infusion takes a lot longer, each chemotherapy session will take something like 5 1/2 hours. I’ve loaded up an iPod with music, movies and some good podcasts for her! We’re told that compared to the drugs she just finished 4 out of 5 people find Taxol to be less generally uncomfortable, but for the 5th it is much worse. We’re praying she falls in the majority!

So… 4 chemo sessions down, 4 to go, and then a year of Herceptin treatments. I don’t think we’ve covered Herceptin? Her tumor tested as being receptive to a certain protein, HER2, that can be suppressed by this drug. The good news is that in cases like hers it can reduce the risk of re-occurrence by as much as 15%; the bad news is that it’s another IV infusion every 3 weeks for a year. More needles, more side effects, more being extra-careful about infection. Despite it all I’m very thankful that she’s managed to stay in good spirits for the most part… that’s huge. She has her struggles and her dark moments, but they are just moments. They do still pass.

I think the hardest part of all this right now for her is the isolation. Recently I watched her break down in tears when a friend suggested they go to a concert after she’s recovered… the thought of actually having a life again after all of this was overwhelming. This is our new normal; where we used to be so active and involved and … busy … now we are not. The initial rush of grappling with the diagnosis and going through surgery has faded to the dull routine of surviving chemotherapy. The flood of cards and letters and flowers when people first heard about her cancer has waned to a trickle of cherished well-wishes. Entire days can pass where she doesn’t speak to a single person between breakfast and dinner.

Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been well cared for; our kids have been loved well, meals provided, and Angie has a few close friends who have been faithful to call and visit regularly. Her parents have been lifesavers; staying at the house while I’m away to help Angie and the kids. We have much to be thankful for.

I guess if you have ever moved, then gone back to visit shortly afterwards, you have some sense of how we’ve begun to feel… everything is more or less the same as when you left, yet at the same time it’s completely different. Life kept marching on without you. Dealing with cancer has already changed us in so many ways, I sometimes wonder what it is going to be like when we are able to start ‘re-entry’ next Christmas after 16 months…

Thanks again to everyone who has been praying for us, who have served us tangibly, and to everyone who has taken a few minutes to call or write Angie. (and I’ll try to update you a bit more often!)

3 responses to “Some Sort of Routine…”

  1. Just wanted to say (again) that your family is an amazing testimony to the faithfulness of God! As I read through your updates regularly, I continue to see an incredible family in love with each other and in love with an incredible God. In the middle of dark and very trying times, I see the hope that is in your hearts and the truth of the promised future. God IS faithful and I hear you all proclaiming that loudly. I know that I speak for many of us who read this when I say we look forward to your ‘re-entry’ next year, but that we also long to remain a part of your lives while we wait for a physical reunion of sorts. Angie, I tried to give you a “long-distance” hug in church yesterday, but couldn’t catch your eye. Please know that my hugs are available any time, whether actual or just in our imaginations. So, I’m also sure that I speak for many of us when I say that our ears are always ready to listen if you should want to pick up the phone and talk about what you’re going through, or the fun and zany antics of the kids, or Christmas decorations, or the spider crawling across the floor… or whatever you want to talk about. We love you all!
    In Him,
    Tonya (for the whole Nash family)


  2. B. A. Schlegel (Kristin Mullenix's aunt) Avatar
    B. A. Schlegel (Kristin Mullenix’s aunt)

    Angie, It is at times like this that I hear Steven Curtis Chapman singing: “His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on. Raised in His power, the weak become strong. His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect.” I believe that. I am thankful that your blood counts are staying up even if you are dragging. I remember the days I spent re-explaining to everyone about the cautions I had to take during my treatments. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve been there. During my treatments, I felt that God was teaching me to walk in the shoes of many people – the bald men whose heads get cold, the shut-ins who want to get out, those with immunity diseases who are afraid of other people, the weak, the depressed,… I was given a more tender heart which I needed so much. It is amazing how much I depended so much on the Lord during those weeks when I couldn’t do what I was used to doing. In looking back at all of that, I am thankful for the experience He gave me to spend with Him. I am ashamed that I often take all of that for granted now. I am praying for your continued strength and healing so that you can spend many, many years with your dear family. As God said to the Israelites through Jeremiah (29:11-14), “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Hang in there! Love, “Aunt B.A.”


  3. My dear Brian and Angie,

    Thanks so much for letting me know the needs that Angie has. I would love to talk with her on the phone, if you could let me know a good time to call, I would appreciate it. She is always in my thoughts and I want her to know that I am here to share in this with both of you. We learn at this time that the life that we live is by faith in the Son of God and no longer is it us but Christ in us the hope of glory.

    May God’s grace mercy and peace be multiplied to both of you.

    My dear Angie,

    I believe that nausea is the greatest pain we could ever experience. The unrelenting nagging is so hard to deal with, but the love that is poured in our hearts through the Holy Spirit will bear us up under anything and everything that comes our way. This love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. May we together know the height, depth, width, length and breadth and know the love of Christ that passes knowledge that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.

    You have a treasure in your earthen vessel, may He give you the knowledge of His will with all spiritual wisdom and understanding that Christ would dwell in your heart through faith.

    Till Christ be formed in us,


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