A little down: health update

I will commit to churning out a non health-related blog post this week just to lighten the mood here at Notes from the Trail. Let me bring up to speed those of you just now tuning in – my wife Carolyn is in Little Rock tonight, having had a PET scan Monday. She received the results from today (Tuesday). We’re trying to discover what’s up with some lymph nodes that tested for growth in a CT scan in March.

Her health journey is the stuff that can fill a medical text book. She’s fought cancer toe-to-toe in various forms since she was 19. Her medical resume reads like this:

  • Hodgkin’s Disease (2x)
  • Shingles
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Radiation-induced thyroid cancer (had thyroid removed)
  • Vitiligo
  • Lymphoma
  • Radiation-induced breast cancer (had lumpectomy first time, then in recurrence a double mastectomy)

She’ll fly back home tomorrow, and here’s where we are after today’s results and doctor recommendations…

fam2015Carolyn’s PET scan showed that the lymph node is “hot” which indicates abnormal activity. There are a few smaller ones in the region (upper leg/abdomen) that also show activity, but this particular one is way outside the range for normal. The doctor has encouraged her to have to have it removed (which means surgery).

We are still not sure if it is malignant. Her cancer history is such that we can’t afford not to have it removed for further testing. This is an almost identical situation to 2009 when she had a different “hot” node show up on a PET. After it was surgically removed, the biopsy then revealed lymphoid hyperplasia but NOT malignancy.

They are going to review her 2009 biopsy again and contact us Thursday with further thoughts, but at present, the recommendation is surgical removal of the node to see what is going on. Some possibilities that have been mentioned are Sarcoidosis, Lymphoma or over-production of lymphatic tissue.

That’s where we are, and we’ll continue to keep you updated. It’s a disquieting journey. We are in a similar place to the one in which the man went to the doctor and said, “Doc, I swallowed my pillow.” After examination, the doctor said, “How do you feel?” The man replied, “A little down in the mouth.”

We may be a little down – simply for still being in this “no man’s land” of not-knowing. However, we have been encouraged and sustained by people’s gracious kindness, prayers, and thoughtfulness expressed to us in so many ways these past weeks.

It’s at times like these that we return and focus on high truth. It grounds us, renews our mind and hearts and strengthens us in faith:

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

We boldly ask you to pray for wisdom as we make decisions on surgery. We will most likely have the surgery done in Virginia. Practically, pray for Carolyn’s peace of mind and for wisdom from the doctors as they determine appropriate health paths. Ask God for smooth interactions with the insurance company as we move forward.

Finally, rejoice with us, please. We have far too many blessings to even begin counting, and we are confident in God’s loving presence in the days ahead.

On this day...


  1. Brit says:
    Our family is praying for Carolyn and your family. Blessings from afar.
  2. Jamie Hansen says:
    Jeff, Carolyn, Sam , Adelyn, My prayers are definitely with you as you go through health issues once again. May the God of all hope grant you joy and peace in believing as you abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon You because he hopes in You. Trust in the Lord forever for in God the Lord we have an everlasting ROCK. Isaiah 26:3-4 These two verses and others have been my sustaining strength through my life, and continue to be so. love and prayer ,, your cuz, Jamie

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