First Follow-up Appointment and MRI

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

From James:

Short Version: Another long day in Baltimore — our first in 6 weeks. Today’s MRI showed no tumor growth, which is good news.

Long Version:

Today was our first MRI and follow-up after radiation treatment ended on February 2. It was an all-day affair. We departed at 7 a.m. and arrived home at around 5 p.m. The MRI appointment was in the morning, and the actual meeting with the radiation oncologist was at 1:30 p.m.

The MRI was as routine as such a thing can be, with So Young falling asleep on the table, which is probably the best thing you can do during an MRI, because it facilitates sitting still.

We had some time to kill between the MRI and the consultation, so we took the museum tour of Johns Hopkins. There is an area under the hospital’s famous Dome that contains various portraits of benefactors and famous doctors, along with a bust and portrait of Johns Hopkins himself and a 10′ tall statue of Jesus.

People write prayers or thoughts in two books in front of Jesus. We wrote our prayers as well. The sculpture is about to be covered up for renovations, so we were lucky to see it. It is surrounded with scaffolding right now. I had to take this shot from beneath it, behind the scaffolding — hence the cut off hands.

Jesus at Johns Hopkins

Here is the inscription on the pedestal. (“COME unto ME all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you REST.”)

Inscription

 Ever wonder what Johns Hopkins (the man) looked like? Grouchy.

Johns Hopkins (the Man)

We later ventured to a different part of the hospital (the Blaylock Building) to see the portrait of Vivien Thomas, an African-American heart surgeon and unsung hero at Hopkins who was crucial in discovering new surgical techniques for treating “Blue Baby Syndrome.” So Young and I are watching a DVD that Ellen let us borrow that tells his story — Something the Lord Made. Seeing all of these monuments made us all the more convinced that we picked the right hospital for So Young.

OK, so enough about the tourism.  (Like I said, we had time to kill.) We finally had the follow-up with the radiation oncologist, Dr. Kristen Redmond. First, we consulted with one of the residents, who asked questions about her current condition and performed basic tests of her neurological function (touch your nose, etc.). He danced around a bit about the new MRI, so as we waited for Dr. Redmond, So Young started to get nervous, but the news was good.

The brain tumor does not appear to have grown. It is the same size it was in the original MRI taken in November. It didn’t shrink, either, which I suppose would be the ideal outcome, but we still have several months for that to occur. They normally do not shrink. There are a few areas that “lit up” on the MRI, which would usually indicate fast-growing (“malignant”) cells, but Dr. Redmond said that that is expected so close to radiation and isn’t necessarily indicative of bad cells. Overall, Dr. Redmond summarized the situation this way: “It is as good as can be expected.” We will return again in June for another MRI/follow-up combo.

We can expect to go every three months for the next two years, and then every 6 months for years 3 – 5. After that, the MRIs will become annual events.

With regard to So Young’s symptoms:

  • Her eyesight may be unchanged or may have improved. Today she said she saw Dr. Redmond’s face for the first time. She has lost most of the light sensitivity that she had before, so no more sunglasses indoors.
  • She has some difficulty with short-term memory, which is normal for radiation patients.
  • She is more tired than before, but that could be caused by a lot of things, including proximity the radiation treatment and the anti-seizure medications she is on.
  • No headaches. No visual or aural hallucinations, which she was having pre-radiation and during the early radiation days.
  • Mild balance issues.

Thanks to everyone for your continued prayers and well-wishes, in person and virtual. We are so grateful for all of you and wish we could repay you for making such a difference in our lives. We send you our love as we continue on this race.

Here’s a picture of So Young before her first marathon. (She’s the one on the left…:-) ) She isn’t letting me post any recent images of her. Isn’t she beautiful? So glad to be hers. I know many are glad to know and love her, too.

So Young

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11 Responses

  1. Great news! I’m glad that you took the opportunity to tour Johns Hopkins, enjoying each other’s company.

    She is beautiful! More importantly, she is a godly woman with great courage.

    God is faithful. His love endures forever.

    With prayer,
    Mom

    • Mom, thanks for taking care of the kids while we were gone! We really appreciate your prayers and encouragement.

  2. Good news indeed! God loves you guys 🙂

    • Hi, Ashleigh! Clearly He does. And, you too!

      Go Mason! 😀 Maybe next year, huh?

  3. Wonderful, wonderful news! Thank you James for giving us a detailed report! And for a beautiful photo of So Young…
    It is good to hear that the tumor is not getting bigger. And we all have to pray harder for it to stop grow forever.
    Love, Grace

    • Auntie Grace,

      Thank you for your prayers and encouragement from far away!

      Love,

      The Gages

  4. She is a lovely woman and that doesn’t change under any circumstance. And you guys are very lucky to have each other and those 3 lovely girls.

    • Indeed we are! BTW, So Young keeps bragging on you and your running feats. Great to hear from you.

  5. hey gage’s!
    i’m sooooooooo glad & grateful the news was as good as it could be! i thought of & prayed for you throughout the day…did not want to call knowing it would be a long day for you guys. i remembered you said you would post the news james so thanks for doing it so promptly!
    so young is amazing…still running & persevering through it ALL!!! did she get to do her 6 on sunday?
    love to the gage’s,
    hayong = )

    • Yes, she did! We “ran” about 5.5 miles or maybe a little more. It was pretty slow and So Young was none too pleased with her performance, but she did it! It was cool just to be alone together as a couple. Wish we had done it more before we had kids. Thanks to Laurie and family, who were watching the girls!

  6. Hey Team Gage,
    Awesome running…you guys are so inspirational…now I gotta get my self in gear. Glad to hear the news – will continue to keep you in my prayers and thoughts. I agree with all the others, So Young will always be beautiful inside and out. Will be in touch here soon…

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