But excitement slowly became concern, as Joshua was not feeling well, and despite several doctors' visits and treament, he was continuing to deteriorate. They were troubled as to why a previously healthy, active 41-year-old man was so debilitated and progressively worsening.
He was so incapacitated that he was forced to visit his local emergency room and was ultimately admitted to Baptist East. It was there that Joshua and Allison heard the news that terrifies every person, be they spouse, parent, child, relative or friend. He has cancer.
Joshua was then transferred to the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the U. of Louisville Medical Center. After going through many tests and procedures including imaging studies, lumbar punctures and a port placement, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. They quickly initiated treatment with chemotherapy. Joshua has suffered many expected side effects, including pain, nausea, and headaches. His white cell count also dropped to almost zero, putting him at risk for infections.
After 3 weeks in the hospital and completion of his first round of chemotherapy, his white cell count increased back to a safer level, and he was deemed stable enough to return home for a short break. Allison and their family worked quickly to prepare their home for his arrival. They converted one of their bedrooms into a makeshift hospital room and thoroughly cleaned every area as required for someone with a compromised immune system. He is set to return to the hospital on July 5th to initiate his second round of chemotherapy.
Many challenges and uncertainties lay ahead. He will need to complete an additional 4-5 weeks of chemotherapy and likely undego a surgery to place an intracranial port for chemotherapy delivery to the cerebrospinal fluid. Thereafter the challenge will be finding a match for a bone marrow transplant.
Those who know Joshua would not be surprised to hear that he is in good spirits and that he has the will and strength to beat this disease. He's also constantly comforted by the amazing and unwavering love and support of Allison and their family. Although this burden is greater than most of us can fathom, they are ready to forge ahead with faith, courage and hope.
Times like these are reminders of how vulnerable and frail we are as human beings. Joshua and Allison's experience with cancer has been, and will be shared by many others. It distinctly separates what, in life, is trivial and what is essential. Our humanity is nourished only by the love, loyalty, strength of those we love and of our fellow man.
We cannot take this burden away from Joshua and Allison, but we can play a small part in lightening it by sending them love, prayers and donations. A contribution of any amount can go along way toward easing their stress about mounting bills and lack of income and allow them to devote all their energy toward beating leukemia!