Every now and then you get a phone call and know that God had a part in connecting you with the person on the other end. I was blessed to meet Kaitlin and Jarrett while they were planning their wedding at Ritchie Hill in 2015. They had a gorgeous April wedding and that was the last I heard from them until this March when Kaitlin happened to call IP. A friend of hers told her to call Karen because she knew IP was very active in cancer awareness. Focused on a Cure mainly shares breast cancer stories but we wanted to share Kaitlin’s battle with cancer on social media in hopes of awareness to Hodgkins Lymphoma.
(Be sure to scroll to the bottom to read Kaitlin’s recent update we just received!)
I found out I was pregnant in August of 2015 – my husband and I were ecstatic and everything early on in the pregnancy went very well. In November I started to notice a small lump on the left side kind of near the base of my neck. I saw a primary care physician and asked my OBGYN about it – neither were overly concerned, so I dismissed it as well. Through December and January the symptoms presented themselves very similarly to pregnancy symptoms, except for the now very large swollen lump on the left side of my neck that had seemed to move across my neck and down into my chest. After finally seeing a doctor who saw some need for concern, the ball started rolling and I was diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkins Lymphoma on February 11. We were now connected with oncologists, high risk OBGYN’s and still seeing the regular OBGYN. After several long discussions with the oncologist and maternal fetal medicine doctors, a trip up to Duke for a second opinion, and a trip to a nutritionist, we were strongly advised to start chemotherapy, even being 30 weeks pregnant. I was very skeptical of the information we had gotten, really not believing that I can’t take a Tylenol, but a drug regimen of AVBD would not harm or affect my baby. I was feeling badly with the symptoms, but sure I could push of starting chemotherapy until the baby was born naturally – only 10 more weeks.
I was scheduled to have a port put in on February 22, but because of the state of my lungs and the pregnancy the anesthesiologist refused to put me under and sent me to get a PICC line. I received my PICC line, then got a call from the oncologist, very gently stating, that if I did not start chemo immediately, I would likely stop breathing by the end of the following day. I was subsequently admitted to the hospital and received my first chemo treatment that night.
From this point on I have had complications with my PICC line every time I’ve gone for chemo. Had it replaced – moved from the right arm to the left – and have completed two chemo treatments of the 12. (4 regimens – once every other every other week – duration total 6 months)
I went into labor naturally on the night of April 7, and had my beautiful baby girl Elliott Kaite Bumgarner on April 8 at 7:09 am. The morning they were discharging me from the hospital with the baby I had an ultrasound done on my arm to check some pain I had been having and found I have a very large blood clot in my left arm and neck. They did let me go home but am now taking a shot twice daily to alleviate the clot.
From an emotional, mental and spiritual standpoint Jarrett and I have been handling things pretty well. Our families have been such a huge help through everything. (which I forgot to mention, we bought a house in early February before the diagnosis and set the move in date for February 19th) Both of our sets of parents and siblings have been here at our house countless hours helping paint, fix things, move things, clean things, organize things, etc. Several family members have taken whole days to just sit with us at the hospital or drive me to appointments. Everyone has been helping with a GOFUNDME account and giving financially. But most importantly, EVERYONE we know is fervently praying for us. God has provided everything we could have possibly asked for and made this process really as painless as it could be. I have not been sick once from the chemotherapy. I was worried about being induced and nervous about the kinds of interventions it might take to have my baby, but instead she was delivered naturally. She is not only hear naturally but she is healthy as can be and strong and happy. Our house is now a home, the boxes are unpacked, the rooms are painted and the space is livable. Jarrett and I celebrated our first anniversary on April 10th – and the list goes on and on and on. God has truly heard and answered all of our prayers and our families and friends and we are so, so blessed and doing well!!
We just received this update from Kaitlin today:
Most of the struggle throughout this whole process was actually figuring out what was wrong initially, once I was diagnosed and baby Elliott was born that was a huge weight off of our shoulders. Elliott was born April 8 and is a happy healthy baby 🙂
Since Elliott was born there have been no other complications with the chemotherapy and we are anxiously awaiting the last treatment on the first of August. I have been truly blessed through this whole ordeal as I have heard chemotherapy can be very tough, but I have not experienced many symptoms other than fatigue and occasional nausea. God has put so many people in our lives to help care for us and pray for us and there is no way we would have been able to keep strength and faith through this process without His grace and mercy.
Things are really looking good. A PET/CT scan last Thursday revealed there were no more cancerous lymph nodes in my neck or chest and all of the symptoms that presented themselves at the beginning are completely gone. I’m cancer free!! I only have three more treatments left and I will be done! We’re very excited and looking forward to getting back to our normal lives 🙂