I like to run. There's a shirt I've seen online that says something to the effect of, "I run to burn off the crazy." Considering the events of the last 11 months, those words ring very true for me. Running gives me a chance to get moving, take in the beauty of God's creation, and just breathe. It really does help burn off the crazy, I'm-gonna-lose-it feeling that can try to take over sometimes.
Bridges take us from one place to another--sometimes from the familiar to the unknown. There is no way of knowing exactly what lies ahead. Over the last several months, I've thought of my little bridge as representative of various milestones in Paige's treatment. Successful recovery from procedures. Smooth administrations of intense chemotherapy. These milestones are exciting because they put us one step closer to the finish line, but they can also bring new anxieties over the unknown. Just gives us more to pray about, I suppose--and a chance to see some pretty amazing glimpses of hope.
A couple of weeks ago we crossed another bridge on this journey when Paige officially began the maintenance phase. Were we ready for this? Absolutely. Almost 10 months of medications that all but destroyed her body in the name of saving her life, it was time to take in some new sights along our path.
The maintenance phase will be the longest leg of this journey, lasting just under two years--yes, two more years. It goes in three-month cycles, during each of which Paige will receive one lumbar puncture sending a small amount of chemo into the spinal fluid, three short chemo infusions through her port, monthly steroid therapy, and two oral chemo medications--one nightly and one weekly.
Yes, our travels are far from over. This medication regimen is extremely important in working to rid Paige's body of any tiny, hard-to-detect leukemia cells that may be waiting to cause trouble further down the road. A bright spot of this very scheduled regimen is that it won't cause Paige's counts to tank like the more intense medications did--meaning she should be able to begin a transition back to school sometime after the first of the year.
Before we get too far into maintenance, Paige must complete 8 treatments of cranial radiation. Because leukemia cells like to hide in spinal fluid--which leads to the brain--this is considered a preventive measure. Thankfully, she has never shown any evidence of disease in the spinal fluid, so she is receiving a smaller number of treatments. The simulation was a few weeks ago, and actual treatment begins next week. This will be one of the few treatments Paige has to receive without me right there by her side. I've gotta say--this momma doesn't like that one bit. I know it's in the name of safety, so it's yet another time I've got to remember she is never alone. God has been with her since this all began, and He will continue to be there every step of the way.
We have crossed the bridge into maintenance and press on toward that finish line. Yes, it's a couple of years away--but it's there waiting for us nonetheless, and we couldn't be more thankful.
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.