Preliminary Diagnosis

This is not the way I thought my summer would go. I had a list of things I wanted to enjoy, people I wanted to see, & books I wanted to read. I had pictured myself relaxing at the pool, biking to the farmers market, & reading in my hammock. Instead, I’ve sat in hospital waiting rooms, spent time looking out the passenger window of my mom’s van, and talked on the phone with plenty of insurance reps.

On June 14, 2017 I was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Since April 2016, I’ve been experiencing pain & swelling in my left knee that has come & gone every couple of months. I thought all along that it was connected to exercise… that I had bad form or was doing something to irritate the knee. Because I felt confident I didn’t tear something, I opted out of paying for an MRI last fall and instead my game plan has been to just take a week off of working out until the swelling goes away and then continue on as normal.

I had an MRI in Ames on June 9 in hopes of finally figuring out what was going on with my knee. When my doctor saw the results Sunday night, it showed that nothing was torn but that there was something happening in my bone. I was sent to see a specialist in Iowa City first thing Monday morning — after lots of scans, tests, & a biopsy at the University of Iowa Hospital, the earliest reports of the biopsy confirmed the suspicion of cancer and it already had a name: Lymphoma.

Lymphoma is an umbrella term of cancer – underneath that umbrella are a variety of possible subtypes that we need to know in order to fully diagnose the cancer and understand what it is doing in my body. Since June 14, my doctors have been unable to further subtype and provide a full diagnosis my cancer. I’ve had 3 biopsies already and we continue to plead with God to give my doctors clarity as to what is currently residing in my body. Therefore because we don’t know what type of Lymphoma it is, we also don’t know my prognosis or my treatment plan moving forward.

As you can imagine, the past 3 weeks have been overwhelming – I’ve probably experienced every emotion available to mankind. My heart is more broken, but also more full of faith than ever before. I’ve cried more tears, but also prayed more honest prayers in the last 3 weeks than ever before. I feel overwhelmed with love and support by my friends & family already and I covet your prayers also!!

To be honest, my flesh wants to crawl into a hole and come out in a couple of years when everything’s ‘better’ and life can be ‘normal’ again – but that’s not real life. This is my new normal. Also, it’s selfish & naive to think that I’m the only one suffering in a scenario like this. My friends & family who know and love me will also suffer to various degrees during this season, and being aware of what’s happening & how you can pray can be a way to walk with me through this. This blog exists to let people in, without being on my phone 24/7 giving individual updates {insert vomiting face emoji}. I want to be open and honest about the fears, the joys, and realities of walking with God through suffering and fighting this evil & scary disease we call cancer.

W H A T ‘ S   N E X T   /   How you can pray:

  • Monday, July 3 – I will meet with a new doctor, who will oversee my next bone biopsy – you can pray that this biopsy would send exactly the right tissue to the pathology dept., which would lead us to the full diagnosis!
  • MY DOCTOR – Would you pray for my doctor – that God would give him wisdom, discernment, and give clarity as he works on my case? If it would honor Jesus & bring Him the most glory, I’m praying God would heal me in front of my Pakistani doctor. I’d love him to meet Jesus because I had to be his patient {big prayers, y’all}. But if not – pray that I would suffer well and show him Jesus in that way.
  • MY FAMILY – As you can imagine, they’re heartbroken. Would you pray God would be near, comfort, & meet their needs as they have to watch me go through this up close?
  • MYSELF – Would you pray that God would give me courage to continue to face the days ahead with strength, honesty, and perseverance? In general, I’m doing well. God is sustaining me and giving me exactly what I need, right when I need it. I currently don’t feel the effects of the cancer & am fully functioning, so I don’t have a lot of physical needs right now – the best thing you can do is pray!

{ I will update kendragustafson.com when I receive new information or have an update on what’s next. You can sign up to ‘follow’ this blog by inserting your email address in the sidebar to the right. By doing this, you’ll be notified of new post immediately via email. }