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Kip Kip Hooray: Alex’s Tumor Is Under Control!

Kip Kip Hooray: Alex’s Tumor Is Under Control!

This is Chapter 14 in the on-going story of Pelotonia rider Alex Kip, 23, and his battle with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (Type B) cancer.

The last time the news was bad, really bad: the tumor in Alex’s chest was being totally stubborn and resistant to chemo – and his survival rate was pegged at only about 25 percent.

This time, on Monday, the news from Dr. Sam Penza was totally, absolutely and amazingly incredible: After massive amounts of chemo and a stem cell transplant, the tumor had finally met its match – and had shrunk all the way down to .4 centimeters (less than a quarter of an inch).

This is what good news looks like

A series of radiation treatments – that will start in a week or two – should zap what’s left of the tumor into oblivion. Alex’s outcome is now very, very favorable.

Wow!

The news left the Kips beaming, and a little overwhelmed, as a myriad of emotions swirled through their brains as they tried to process all the information and good news coming their way from Dr. Penza.

“He was glowing with a big smile,” Nick Kip said of his son’s initial reaction. The stoic Nick took the news stoically, but inside he was filled with “joy … it’s unbelievable.”

“It’s weird,” Alex said of the news. After months and months of battling cancer, a journey that has often seemed like years and years, and has been filled with so many emotions, including lots of optimism and some bouts of doubt, this was the news he had been praying for – literally.

Alex and his family have gotten close with Dr. Sam Penza

“Dr. Penza said that some people with cancer like this don’t even make it to the stem cell transplant stage,” Alex said. “He said initially he was worried and wasn’t as confident as he is now. It’s weird, but at church yesterday (on Sunday, the day before the good news), I decided I wasn’t going to worry about it any more and just put my trust up above.”

Alex has formed a bond with his doctor, who was as happy as the Kips on Monday. It’s an emotional punch in the face for oncologists to deliver bad news to their patients – and uplifting to deliver good news.

“He’s such a great doctor and I love him,” said Alex, who gave his doctor a big hug at the end of their visit.

Cindy Kip was also trying to process the news.

“I’m really happy, but I’m also afraid to be happy,” she said. “I need some time for it to sink in … we need to plan a celebration.”

The Kips had some time to let the news sink in after their visit with Dr. Penza, as they sat in an examining room on the ground floor of The James, waiting for a radiation consult.

What with it being the Age of Social Networking, the good news was already out there.

“I texted Liz,” Cindy said – and the message she sent her anxious daughter, a student at the University of Kentucky, was: “Good news it worked is very small and should be cured with radiation”

Liz texted back immediately: “I am so happy!!!!!!! God is good”

In this case, I don’t think Liz overused exclamation points.

It took a while for the good news to sink in

Alex posted the following on his Facebook page – “God is good! Results today showed that everything is going as planned!!!” – while he was still at The James and the comments immediately started flowing in, more than 100 over the next several hours. They included lots of !s and :)s.

“I don’t feel like calling everyone yet,” Alex said. “I kind of want to have the news to myself for a while … plus I can’t get reception down here anyway.”

The hard work isn’t quite over, as the series of radiation treatments, which will be once a day, five days a week, for four or five weeks, will be grueling. But Alex is tough, and now that he can see the light at the end of the tunnel, he’s anxious for the zapping to begin – and end.

The short-term side effects of radiation include: fatigue, coughing, problems swallowing and skin redness. Long-term effects could include lung irritation and, because the radiation beams will come close to his heart, an increased possibility of coronary artery disease down the line.

“So don’t smoke,” Dr. Jeffrey Radowsky told Alex.

“If I smoke, I die,” said Alex, who has never smoked.

The radiation beams will initially be aimed at all the spots where the tumor once was – the middle of Alex’s chest and a spot a little higher up, on his right shoulder – and later it will be narrowed down to only where the tumor is still active in his chest.

“Nothing’s 100 percent, but we expect a good outcome,” said Dr. Christopher Pelloski, a radiologist.

In other words: ! and :).

Click here to read Chapter 13 of Alex’s story.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: The Emotional Toll of Giving Patients Bad News | The Blog | Pelotonia

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