This week, our weekend stopover ended up being the fourth floor of Washington Regional Hospital - not on our top 10 list of places to go for the first day of summer but still necessary.
The journey started with some low platelet levels on Wednesday, then escalated with shortness of breath on Thursday, that we thought might be signs of pneumonia, and continued with a whole day of tests on Friday (X-rays, labs and a CT scan) where we learned that Josh had not just one but several blood clots in his lung. Tricky! And even more so with an extra low platelet level of 27 Ã (normal range is 150-400 Ã).
This all resulted in a not-so-free pass admission to the hospital to receive platelets along with Heparin (blood thinner) through IV. In case you are curious, yes, both of these things are side effects of Temodar and the added treatment of Avastin. While helpful, they do cause some troubles.
Friday night, as I watched platelets drip into Josh’s veins, I realized I knew very little about this process. Where do platelets come from? What do they do? A quick chat with my cool sister-in-law, who now is officially a nurse, brought to light that these come from blood donors through a complicated process. This is also when I learned that platelets only have a shelf life of five days after a donation.
My initial thought was, "So, those platelets were inside someone else’s body five to six days ago?" Crazy, but true. Even the Red Cross confirms it, “Since platelets must be used within 5 days of donation, there is a constant need for platelet donors,”(Red Cross).
I obviously have no idea who donated their blood/platelets earlier this week for this occasion. I know nothing about their story, but in this moment our stories intersect and I am filled with gratitude. It’s in moments like this (and even more dire ones) where I realize how important a selfless blood donation can be – and what an amazing process it is. [So quick reminder – be a blood donor! It makes a difference!] #giveblood #savinglives]
As we continue to rest in the hospital for another day, to ensure the meds (now in pill form) are working on the blood clots and that Josh is staying stable, I find myself looking forward and backward. Tomorrow, we begin our last week of radiation therapy with only four more treatments to go. It will be nice to see the daily routine behind us.
Looking back over the past couple days, I can more easily process the stress and even fear I have felt at times. It is hard to not let fear creep in when you hear about blood clots in the lung or levels of things that are way outside the range of normal. A few weeks ago I picked up a humorous journal to record things that might be “freaking me out.” Each day, I can list the date, rate my freak-out level and glance at the gentle quotes and reminders about how to not freak out so much. Yesterday’s quote was the perfect reminder to keep moving forward. “There nothing wrong with fear; the only mistake is to let it stop you in your tracks,” (Twyla Tharp, p 32).
// // // // // // // // // // But stopping often seems easier // // // // // // // // // //
It’s easy to get derailed by the "what ifs" and worries while trying to figure out the best decision. Fear can easily take over and cause you to freeze in your tracks. But God is good. And gentle reminders like this, along with encouragement from many people help me find my tracks again.
There’s comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one who keeps getting off track. I guess that’s why similar reminders appear over and over in God's Word.
From Deuteronomy 31:6 . . .
Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” (NKJV)
To Joshua 1:9 . . .
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (NKJV)
To Psalm 56:3-4 . . .
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.
In God (I will praise His word),
In God I have put my trust;
I will not fear.
What can flesh do to me? (NKJV)
In April of 2019, we learned that Josh had a large brain tumor, a glioblastoma, in the middle of his brain. At the age of 41, this was quite the surprise. Josh sadly passed away after a short battle on September 30, 2019.
View his obituary
These past months, we've navigated the complexities of treatment, and hospice care and learned that there wasn't really treatment and that in Josh's case, the tumor was inoperable.
We're sharing our hearts and experience as we navigate this unexpected turn and God's goodness in the middle of it. We hope to encourage others by sharing our story.
Thank you for following along with our journey even in grief.
Feel free to message us.
If you'd like to donate to medical expenses, here's a link or you can email us questions
More about Josh & Jenn
Jenn Brown is the author of this site, a loving wife and communications guru.
Josh Brown most recently served on staff at Fellowship Bible Church in NWA as a Springdale Community Pastor. We've served in ministry in Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Nevada.
Cancer has been big part of our story. Josh has battled cancer three times already with the first to being non-Hodgkins lymphoma at ages 15 and 25 and the third thyroid cancer last year and a GBM, brain tumor this year.
Jenn's mom, Carol passed away from breast cancer 21 years ago and her father also went through treatments for Chronic Leukemia (CLL) in 2017 and is doing well now.
Friends & Family
We have been so encouraged by friends and family. Thank you for the practical ways you are caring for us! We love you all! This is just few photo highlights of some meaningful moments.