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  • Molly Wood
    The family and friends of Molly Wood are uniting to raise money to help in her battle against Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Please read on for an update on Molly’s health. Molly was diagnosed with Stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in late 2010. After completing chemotherapy in the fall of 2011, Molly was cancer-free. Of course, her doctors continued to monitor Molly and last July they detected a new mass in her chest that appeared near her windpipe. Initially, they were not too concerned as the mass appeared to be exceptionally slow-growing. Following her most recent PET scan and a successful tissue biopsy, they have determined that the mass is cancerous and she has been diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma - there appears to be no cancerous growth in her bone marrow this time.

    Molly has met with her oncologist who has proposed a treatment plan that, while extremely rigorous, is also highly successful in treating recurrent Hodgkin’s. In addition to chemotherapy, Molly would also undergo a bone marrow transplant. The biggest drawback to this is that following the bone marrow transplant, Molly will not be able to receive chemotherapy treatment in the future should she ever need to. Due to this new development, she will be going to the Mayo clinic in Rochester, MN to get a second opinion. She may also seek a third opinion from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

    Molly will be unable to work during this time as she is traveling to get additional opinions from other doctors as well as once she begins the chosen course of treatment. As before, we are hoping to alleviate some of the burdens and stresses of her medical expenses. With your help, we can alleviate the financial responsibilities so that Molly can focus on once again being cancer-free!

  • Want to learn more?

    The following are resources to help you learn more about Hodgkin's Lymphoma and the fight to find a cure

    American Cancer Society
    Leukemia-Lymphoma Society
    Mayo Clinic
    National Cancer Institute
    curehodgkins.com
    Lymphoma Research Foundation
    lymphomainfo.net
    Hodgkin's Lymphoma Wikipedia Page

  • Updates

  • Apr.24.2016 at 9:18 PM
    A DELAY OF PLANS

    Hello –

    I know it’s been over a month since I last posted & I apologize for that. I had cycle 3 of ICE on March 30th – April 1st. During that stay, I also had a lung function test & an echocardiogram to ensure that my heart & lungs are healthy enough to undergo a stem cell transplant. For the most part, Cycle 3 was uneventful & the side effects didn’t seem as lengthy or as miserable as they did following Cycles 1 & 2. I bounced back pretty quickly & was able to enjoy my birthday on April 7th with family members that had come to visit for a few days.

    On April 20th, I went back to Iowa City to discuss with my oncologist & the transplant team the ins & outs of what a stem cell transplant will entail….shocking news: it does NOT sound fun. In order to collect cells for the transplant, I will need a series of 4 shots over a course of 4 days. The purpose of these shots is to signal the bone marrow to produce more stem cells & to push the cells out into my bloodstream. I will then go to the hospital where they will put an IV into each arm. From one IV they will collect my blood, which will be rich in stem cells. The blood will go through a process called apheresis, in which a machine will separate & collect the stem cells. The remaining blood will be returned through the IV in my other arm. The stem cells will be stored & frozen until I’m ready to get them back. This whole process will take about 5 hours & the goal is to collect about 5 million stem cells. If I don’t reach that goal, I’ll have to go back the following day so they can collect more. I have to give up no less than 2 million stem cells in order to have a transplant.

    Once stem cell collection is complete, it will probably be another 1-2 weeks before they have a bed ready for me in the transplant unit. Once a bed is available, I will be in the hospital for 4 consecutive weeks. During the 1st week I will be getting a chemo cocktail called BEAM. From what the nurse said, BEAM is much, much more intense than ICE & it is not well tolerated – people become very nauseous & sick while receiving BEAM. The purpose of BEAM is to obliterate the immune system & bring it down to baseline. It essentially serves to reboot the immune system so that it can start fresh. During this time, I will be very prone to infections so will be given IV antibiotics as well as anti-nausea meds. Once BEAM is completed, they’ll reheat my stem cells & give them back to me via my port. The stem cells will do their job to rebuild my immune system & I will stay in the hospital until my blood counts rebound & they feel I have enough energy to care for myself. I will have weekly check-ups for the 1st month or so but complete recovery of immune function will take much longer – I was told to prepare to take off work for 3-6 months. UGH. During recovery, they told me to expect to feel very weak & fatigued; I will be able to care for myself, but not much else, so I will need a caregiver around me during this time. With that being said, I plan on living back at home with my parents for a few months until I regain my energy.

    I will be able to have visitors while I’m in the hospital as long as they are healthy & not showing symptoms of a cold or flu (young children won’t be allowed, though…sorry). So PLEASE come visit me if you’re so inclined because I know I’ll be going out of my damn mind. I can barely handle 3 days in the hospital…4 weeks is going to be absolute torture. I am going to feel like a caged animal because I won’t even be allowed to leave the transplant unit, let alone go outside, for 4 weeks.

    The transplant was scheduled to start on May 2nd, but last week I had some very crushing news – hence the title of this post. I received notification that my insurance has been denied & my coverage ends on the last day of April. I was absolutely devastated after learning this & have been in a panic ever since trying to figure out what to do next. Luckily, my employer has been super supportive & a social worker at Medicaid has been a God-send in helping me figure this all out. I should know more by the end of this week, but am hoping this was an error & that I’ll be insured again soon. Depending upon what I learn, I may have another round of ICE this Wednesday. For the transplant, I have to wait at least 1 month after my last chemo, but no longer than 3 months. I am really hoping I won’t need a 4th round of ICE, but at this point, I don’t know for certain. This whole insurance debacle has been infinitely stressful & frustrating & has thrown a wrench in my treatment schedule. I hope to have good news to share later on this week but in the meantime, keep me in your prayers because I sure could use a small miracle right about now!

    Much love,

    Molly

    Mar.19.2016 at 5:37 PM
    ICE CYCLE 2

    Hi there –

    Wednesday, March 9th marked the start of Cycle 2 of ICE chemotherapy. After several hours of waiting around for a bed, I was finally admitted into the hospital around 7PM. They started my 1st drug right away but because of the late admission, I wasn’t discharged until around 4:30 on Friday afternoon. I received the same regimen as the 1st time with the exception of a blood transfusion – my hemoglobin level remained high enough that one was not required, thank goodness. Overall, my hospital stay was pretty uneventful. I spent the hours watching TV, reading, Snapchatting & taking frequent walks around the building. Because of these walks, I only gained about 9 pounds in bloat this time around! Maybe next cycle I will speed-walk laps around the hospital to prevent it all together…kidding. After a quite lengthy list of discharge instructions (no flossing??!!…psst, who do they think they’re talking to? that’s not gonna happen), I was free to waddle out of there –  at least for another 3 weeks anyway.

    Although happy to be out of the hospital setting, the 1st several days of recovery were definitely the most difficult because the chemo was still coursing through my body. I was literally surrounded and encompassed by it. The taste sat on my tongue, the smell remained stagnant in my nose, the scent lingered on my skin. I could seek no reprieve from it and therefore maintained this moderate level of nausea for many continuous days. I did all I could think of to flush it out faster – drank lots of water, took hot showers, soaked in a detox bath, used peppermint oil on my tongue and under my nose to mask the smell and taste – but nothing really seemed to work. Those days made me question whether all of this is really worth it, whether I truly am doing the right thing; however, by Wednesday I was feeling noticeably better and could no longer smell it in the air around me. My tongue and taste buds remain affected by the drugs, but I use this as an excuse to eat a lot of spicy Mexican take-out. Today I feel nearly 100% and will return to work on Monday morning. This will be difficult only in the fact that I’ve become accustomed to waking around 10 o’clock or later this past week.

    In the last post, I deliberated with either shaving my head or cutting it short for a while. That decision was essentially made for me and I was forced into shaving my head a little sooner than I had initially anticipated. After work on March 7th, I went to my hair stylist to have my head shaved for the 2nd time in my life. The 1st time, in 2011, it was an all-out event…lots of friends and family there to support me, enough tears to bring the Mississippi to flood stage, etc. This time around was much different – in fact, I was quite surprised by how calm and unemotional I remained during the process. I guess I had achieved a certain level of acceptance. Plus, my bald head wasn’t a foreign concept to me as it had been 5 years ago. Honestly, I think it was more difficult for my stylist than it was for me, which made it quite humorous. And, I know I’ve been blessed with a relatively lump-free head, which of course makes this all much more manageable. Thank you to my friends and family who have jumped on board Operation: Head-Shaving and have done this themselves as a sign of support…I am very grateful and feel the love!

    I return to the hospital bright and early on March 30th for a PET scan to determine if and how well this treatment has been working for me. Those results will determine if I require 1 or 2 more cycles of ICE. After I see my oncologist that day, I’ll be admitted into the hospital for what I hope to be my 3rd and final cycle….cross your fingers and say your prayers that this will be the case. You have all been truly amazing with your messages and outpouring of love. These gestures honestly mean the world to me and fill me with such appreciation and feelings of empowerment. I love that you’re all fighting with me and for me.

    xoxo…Molly

    Mar.06.2016 at 5:50 PM
    HERE WE GO AGAIN…

    Hello –

    I know this update has been long overdue and I apologize for that – especially because I’m not on Facebook so it’s difficult to know exactly what has been going on with me. I went to Tijuana, Mexico in early 2014 to undergo alternative treatment to fight my recurrent lymphoma. I obeyed a very strict diet/supplement/juicing plan that the doctors in Mexico had laid out for me while I was there and that I continued to maintain once I returned home. In October 2014, a CT at the University of IA showed that the tumors were not shrinking; in fact, they had increased in size slightly. After hearing this news, I got very frustrated and quit the alternative treatment altogether. My oncologist at the University continued to press the issue of the bone marrow transplant. He told me that it was my greatest chance to live to see my 40th birthday. At a 50% success rate, though, I was very hesitant and defiant about pursuing this treatment – after all, I felt really good, had minimal symptoms and chemo treatments had failed me in the past. It was hard for me to start yet more chemotherapy when I wasn’t feeling bad. I really struggled with this decision for quite some time. In late 2015, I started to become very short of breath and my cough worsened. After hearing from my family doctor that I had developed pneumonia because the lymphoma had infiltrated my right lung, thereby obstructing my airway and affecting my breathing, I knew that the situation was becoming too dire to ignore. My stubbornness and feelings of denial were becoming detrimental to my health.

    In early February 2016, I had a port put in because my veins can’t handle the high-dose chemotherapy. I also had a PET scan and a bone marrow biopsy so that they could once again stage my disease. The bone marrow biopsy came back negative, thank goodness, but the PET scan showed new and increasing tumor growth in my neck, chest, underarms, and abdomen and metastasis into my lung, thereby giving me the diagnosis of Stage 4 recurrent Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

    On Wednesday, February 17th, I began my 1st cycle of ICE chemotherapy. I was admitted into the hospital that afternoon and was given 3 different chemo drugs until I was discharged on Friday afternoon. One of the drugs, the “I” in ICE, is given continuously over a 24-hr period. The other 2 drugs run only a few hours each. Because my hemoglobin was low, I also had a blood transfusion, which took about another 3 hours. Needless to say, I was anxious to be discharged and literally ran out of the hospital once they told me I was free to go. Anyone who has ever stayed any duration of time in the hospital knows that rest is pretty much out of the question. My roommate was on a ventilator and hooked up to the suction machine on the wall, so I requested earplugs in order to get any sleep whatsoever.

    The 1st few days after leaving the hospital were the worst. I experienced severe fatigue and weakness. I had gained 14 lbs of bloat due to all the fluids so I didn’t get the most restful sleep for a few nights as I was up every 2 hours to use the bathroom. I wasn’t able to eat all that much because the thought of food repulsed me – my appetite was nonexistent. On Monday, I had a Neulasta shot, which is a drug that helps stimulate the bone marrow to make white blood cells. On Tuesday, I was feeling a bit better and by Wednesday I was pretty much back to normal and my appetite had slowly come back. The rest of the week went by smoothly and I was back to work on the following Monday. I have started to notice a significant amount of hair loss, so I’ll soon be making the decision to either rock a short style for a bit or to just bite the bullet and shave it all off. I recently purchased a new wig, which I must admit, looks pretty legit.

    The ICE chemo regimen is every 3 weeks, so I return to the hospital this Wednesday, March 9th to see my oncologist before starting Cycle 2. After this cycle, I’ll have a PET scan to determine how well the treatment is working and from there it will be determined if I’ll require 1 or 2 more cycles of ICE before starting the process of the bone marrow transplant.

    Again, I am sorry the notifications have been so few and far between. I know I have such immense support and so many loving friends and family members who want to know and who deserve to know what is happening on my end. I’ll post updates every cycle to keep you informed of my progress.

    Thank you for your continued messages and countless prayers. I love hearing from you – it boosts my spirits beyond belief. I know I’m not fighting this battle alone.

    Much love….Molly

    Jan.27.2014 at 11:01 AM
    PLAN OF ATTACK

    Hello –

    After months of deliberation and numerous opinions from various doctors, I have decided upon a treatment method. I will be going to a clinic in Tijuana, MX to see Dr. Castillo, a well-known alternative/conventional oncologist, who treats cancer patients from all over the world. I am leaving Sunday, February 16th and returning on Wednesday, March 19th. I will be receiving treatments in the form of low-dose chemo, vitamin C infusions, detoxes (many methods), supplements, diet changes, oxygen therapy, and hyperbaric chamber therapy. I will be at the clinic every day (except Sundays) for several hours each day. He will be monitoring my progress with CT scans and bloodwork. My mother will be traveling with me and will stay for the duration of my treatment so that I don’t have to go alone. I haven’t yet decided if I will be staying at a hotel in Tijuana or with my brothers who live in San Diego. I guess it may depend upon how difficult it is to cross the border twice a day.

    When treatment is over, I will come back home for 3 months and follow the diet and supplement plan that he administers. I will then go back to see him for 10 more days of treatment. During this time, he will reassess my condition and give me his opinion on how I should proceed from there.

    I am excited to start treatment and also to get away from this polar vortex for a month. I am very hopeful that this will be the cure that I am looking for. It may require a major lifestyle change, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to be cancer-free once and for all…and do what is needed to avoid a bone marrow transplant.

    Thank you for all your prayers, messages, donations and words of encouragement. I cannot stress enough how much your support means to me – it truly gives me strength. Wish me luck in Mexico & to coming home cancer-free!

    I will be in touch as much as possible. Love you all.

     

    Jan.06.2014 at 12:26 PM
    RECENT CT

    Hello –

    I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Both holidays were good for me as I was able to spend time with family and friends.

    Last Thursday I went back to Iowa City for a CT scan and an appointment with my oncologist. It had been about 5 months since my previous CT. The scan last week showed no growth in the sizes of the masses since August. They have been stable for the past several months, which is good news. My cough has seemed to become less frequent, too. After reviewing my CT, my doctor told me she felt comfortable allowing me a few months to try other (and alternative) methods. She still feels a bone marrow transplant should be my course of treatment, but I told her that option was my Plan B. I want to have complete peace of mind before undergoing something so drastic and radical.

    I have been in touch with a doctor from Tijuana, Mexico who treats cancer patients with both chemo (low doses) and alternative methods. I am strongly considering this as an option. I have always felt that a combination therapy is something in which I would be interested. There is also a clinic in Mesa, AZ that performs similar treatments as Mexico. These programs would be all out-of-pocket as insurance would not cover much, if any, of the associated costs. I am still deliberating on which route to take, but will be making a decision sooner than later.

    Thanks for keeping in touch and for checking in on me. As always, it’s your support that keeps me fighting and in good spirits. I will let you all know my final decision soon.

    Love you.

    Dec.04.2013 at 10:48 AM
    BIOPSY CONCLUSIVE

    Hello –

    I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving and were able to spend quality time with family and friends. I have finally received the results of my latest biopsy. Omaha confirmed that I do indeed have recurrent Hodgkin’s. They were able to get enough tissue via video mediastinoscopy to conclude this with 100% certainty. There was scar tissue in the area, but my surgeon was able to go very slowly and deliberately to get the sample we needed. I was in recovery for a little longer than expected because I kept getting sick from the anesthesia medicines. My neck was sore for a few days afterward, but the swelling has gone down and I am not in any pain now.

    I am still in deliberation on how I would like to proceed with treatment from here. The next step with conventional medicine would be the stem cell/bone marrow transplant. However, I have been exploring alternative methods and may choose to go down this path for a few months. I am essentially asymptomatic (with the exception of a slight, nagging cough) and feel very good. My thought is to pursue the alternative option for a limited amount of time and request another CT to determine it’s effectiveness. I would like to avoid a transplant if at all possible, especially knowing that conventional medicine didn’t really work for me in the past. I was treated but I was not cured.

    I feel like there are so many opinions, views, methods, etc and there is no clear-cut answer for me. I know that I cannot wait too long to make a decision or to proceed with treatment, but there is still so much I need to sort out. I will definitely keep you all updated with my decisions. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers; I truly appreciate all the messages and support I get from each of you.

    Love,

    Molly

    Nov.20.2013 at 10:39 AM
    BIOPSY SCHEDULED

    Hello –

    After many weeks of waiting on slides to be sent from the U of IA and to be stained by Omaha, the pathologists at the U of NE have concluded that while my most recent biopsy is suspicious for Hodgkin’s, they cannot determine it with 100% certainty. Therefore, I will need yet another biopsy to figure out once and for all (hopefully) what is growing inside my chest.

    Yesterday I spoke with the thoracic surgeon at Omaha who would be performing my biopsy, which is called a ‘video mediastinoscopy.’ She would make a 1-2 inch incision at the base of my neck and maneuver a scope and camera to the enlarged mass. Then she would remove a large sample (or many large samples) with forceps instead of a needle. This biopsy technique seems much more promising than the fine-needle aspirations I have had in the past because it will allow us to get a much larger tissue sample. The previously inconclusive results are due to the surgeons not being able to remove enough tissue.

    This biopsy is scheduled for this Friday. I will be in surgery for about an hour and then be in recovery for about 2 hours and then be allowed to go home once I feel OK.

    This entire biopsy is based on the premise that there is no scar tissue from my previous surgery that would be in her way. If there is scar tissue in the area that she needs to be, then she would not be able to perform this surgery. She did mention another approach that would involve a very long needle going through my right side. In order to do this, they would have to deflate my right lung and I would be in the hospital for 3 days with a chest tube and I would need a full 2 weeks to recover. I am not on-board with this method, so let’s all hope and pray that the video mediastinoscopy is successful!

    Thanks again for checking in and I will let you all know how surgery goes this Friday! Love you all.

    Oct.22.2013 at 2:21 PM
    OMAHA RESULTS

    Hello –

    I met with Dr. Vose on Friday afternoon & she spoke with me regarding my options from this point forward. Her professional opinion is that my next treatment should be an autologous bone marrow transplant. This corresponds with what the doctor at Mayo told me a few weeks ago. However, she feels that before I start the transplant, I may need another biopsy to 100% confirm the Hodgkin’s diagnosis. There is still a bit of speculation regarding my most recent biopsy & in order to get a concrete diagnosis, we need to get a bigger tissue sample from the masses in my chest. She recommeded a biopsy in which a thoracic surgeon would make an incision in my neck above my breastbone & get at the mass with a larger needle.

    This week, her and 8 other lymphoma specialists will be looking at my most recent biopsy slides & if they can’t make a Hodgkin’s diagnosis with complete certainty, then another biopsy is in my near future. It is unlikely for these masses to be anything other than Hodgkin’s, but before I start an intense treatment process like the transplant, I want to know, without a shadow of a doubt, what I’m fighting.

    I should be getting a phone call by the end of this week with her consensus regarding my slides and her recommendation from this point forward. Wish me luck & thanks for checking in!

    Oct.17.2013 at 3:13 PM
    OMAHA OPINION

    Hello –

    I just wanted to let you all know that my Omaha appointment is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. I meet with Dr. Julie Vose, who is supposed to be one of the leading lymphoma doctors in the nation. It sounds like I will be in good hands. I will be sure to let you know how the appointment goes & what she recommends from this point forward.

    Love you & thanks for checking in. More to come soon.

    Oct.07.2013 at 8:11 PM
    HERE WE GO AGAIN

    Hello Everyone –

    As many of you may have discovered, my website was down for several months because of various reasons, one being that my condition was pretty stable & there was not really a reason for any further updates. Unfortunately, that has all recently changed.

    In August 2013, my routine CT scan showed that the mass along the right side of my windpipe had tripled in size & was now penetrating the root of my right lung. From July 2012 – February 2013, the mass was a constant size – no growth whatsoever. My doctor felt comfortable giving me 6 months between scans & during this time, the original one grew & a new mass formed on the left side of my windpipe. This was obviously a cause for concern, so a week later, I had a needle biopsy & a PET scan.

    They retrieved enough tissue from the biopsy to determine that the masses were conclusive for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The PET scanned showed that the disease was localized to my chest & not in my bone marrow this time; therefore, my new diagnosis is Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

    Following this news, my doctor talked to me about treatment options. She said the best option for someone in my position would be an autologous bone marrow transplant. This process has proven to be successful for patients who have had recurrent lymphoma. They would give me 2 rounds of agressive chemo (called ICE), remove & freeze stem cells from my hips, give me several weeks of high-intensity, very aggressive chemo, then put those stem cells back into my body. This process would essentially reboot my immune system with the intent of wiping out the cancer completely. All in all, this process would take roughly 5 months: 2 months for the 1st 2 rounds of chemo, 1 month for the actual transplant process, & 2 months for recovery.

    In light of this new development, I opted to get a 2nd opinion at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN in hope of finding a less rigorous treatment method. My appointment was last Thursday with a lymphoma specialist. He was very thorough with me & answered all of my questions in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner. He met with me on Thursday, ordered blood work, & met with me again on Friday to review everything we had talked about. He agreed with the U of IA in that the next step should be a bone marrow transplant & we discussed that process in great detail.

    I am also looking into getting another opinion with a highly-respected lymphoma doctor at the University of NE at Omaha. This appointment is currently in the works.

    I will be sure to keep you updated with the Omaha opinion & what course of treatment I choose to pursue. It sounds like it’s going to be a long road ahead for me but I fully intend on fighting through this in the same manner as I did the first time. Thank you all for checking in with me & for your continued love & support. I truly couldn’t do this without you!

    Love,

    Molly

     

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    Waukee, IA 50263

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