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Our Founding Story
The vision for this organization is as a result of the tribulations Joshua Spradlin experienced while battling “Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, (ALL).” His dilemma began on the eve of the weekend his fiancée (Ashley Dees) was to begin the hunt for a wedding dress, as she was getting matters underway for their 6 Dec 2014 wedding date.
Rather that re-count thoughts in error, Josh’s and Ashley’s dialog from “Strength for Spradlin” a group page on Facebook that Ashley got underway to keep friends and family informed of his day-to-day labors reflects back to the 20th of that month, a day that would open a door, a door that no one was prepared for. (Below are the first few days to express how taxing his fight was)
24 March 2014. Let me go ahead and explain what has been missed so far. For a month I have been dealing with fatigue, lower back pain, and night fevers and sweats. I showed up to work on Tuesday morning 18 march and a few of my friends/coworkers said that I Looked discolored. I scheduled an appointment based on my yellow discoloration, the earliest they could see me was 830 a.m. the following day. The next day 19 March at the 78th med group I had a series of tests ran that showed issues with my gall bladder. I was ordered to the ER immediately but was required to have someone drive me. My mother brought me in at around 11:00 a.m. they ran 24 blood tests, 3 urine tests, an ultra sound and a CT scan that proved I am allergic to contrast. I was given the CT scan and seconds after the contrast was pushed into my into my veins, I instantly went from yellow to bright red, my throat began to itch, and I started sneezing. They freaked out and called in a slew of medical folks trying stop the attack and finally just gave me a 50mg shot of Benadryl that sent me into a drunken stupor. Mind you this is still Wednesday the 19th. I was told I had to stay overnight.
3:30 A.M. March 20th. I received 4 more blood tests, and 2 blood cultures. Around 11:00 a.m. a nurse comes in and for some reason hands the phone to my mom rather than me. She gets off the phone and she tells me it’s not a gall stone… Better… Leukemia.
After 7 hrs. of fighting with multiple hospitals they finally got an approval for me to transfer to Emory University for treatment. I got picked up by an ambulance from Dublin and arrived at 11:00 p.m.
2:00 a.m. March 21st. I was woke up for 4 vials of blood. I met my doctors in the morning who confirmed my diagnosis as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Very uncommon at my age, it generally affects under 10 and 51 and over. I was still jaundiced and they needed to figure out the infection before planning chemo. They sent me down for another ultrasound which came back negative. Around 4:00 p.m. three doctors came in and decided it was Time for a bone marrow biopsy. This is where they take a large gauged needle and drive it into the soft center of your hip bone in an effort to retrieve blood and bone marrow. Unfortunately, that took three attempts … Painful. 4 more blood vials and 2 cultures that evening and then finally time for rest.
2:00 a.m. March 22nd. 2 blood tests as usual and my usual meals of broth, apple juice, and jello. Around lunch time a doctor walks in and asks Ashley to leave…. Great… Here comes the bad news. He asks me about sperm banking in case the chemo causes sterility. I had a sigh of relief; we had already made the phone calls to get this ball rolling. So needless to say I didn’t receive any more bad news. Had a few visitors (Mary Jimenez, stepsister Jessica Jimenez, stepbrother James Jimenez, nephew Chris Jimenez, Brad Jones and Erica Lee which helped the day pass until it was time to sleep.
2:00 a.m. March 23rd. More blood tests and 2 blood cultures. My doctor stopped by again and let me know that they were putting me on steroids starting today. The steroids helped tremendously by getting rid of my nightly fever. Unfortunately, still having issues with heavy night sweats. My doctor also explained that I will be starting chemo on Wednesday. Very relaxing day and helped made possible by more visitors (Paul Jesmer and Tammy Jesmer, my cousin Valarie Jimenez and her boyfriend Jesus, later in the evening, Doug Erlich, Brandon Clark, Mike Urbanski, Brian Hayes, Ryan Jordan, and Joshua Hall.
2:00 a.m. March 24th. As usual 2 blood tests. Today I received my main port PICC line, which essentially is a tube that runs into my chest for them to use for I.V. applications, blood transfusions, and my chemo that starts Wednesday. The procedure wasn’t horrible…. Just feels funny with these tubes dangling down my chest. Around 2:30 p.m. I was picked up for my heart-echo test. My heart is strong and able to take the preferred chemo for my treatment. Ashley Dees has to go home until Friday but my mother Mary F. Jimenez is here to cover the shift until she returns.
My blood tests have been improving daily, and the outlook is positive. I want to thank everybody who has contacted me and expressed their concerns and offered their help and prayers. I truly am blessed to have people like you in my life and I never forget these things. I am sorry if I have been unable to respond to every text, but it’s been a grueling few days. I wanted to give everyone an idea of what’s been going on with me the last few days.
March 26 So I received batch 1 of 10 of my first 5 day cycle today. They started me out with 1 pill to keep my uric acid levels low, 1 antiviral pill, and 10 steroid pills. They had to give me 10 4mg steroid pills because I need 40mg and they don’t make that pill in larger doses. They started the chemo bag later than expected at around 3:00 p.m. at first I was drowsy and then the steroids kicked in and decided against a nap. I will be receiving a chemo bag through my I.V. every 12 hrs so number 2 is at 3:00 a.m. (in case anyone out there struggles with adding time… Jk) the first bag doesn’t seem to have affected me too much, a little gittery but nothing uncontrollable.
I enjoyed the pics from everyone in orange today. Keep the pics coming, they definitely are uplifting. The support is incredible and I am very grateful. Once again the thoughts and prayers are deeply appreciated. Might try and sleep a little earlier tonight before they hit me with my next bag at 3:00 a.m.
March 27 Well 3 chemo treatments of 10 complete. Today the treatment felt slightly heavier but not unbearable. I received a few get well gifts and plenty of thoughts and prayers today that were uplifting. I have been asked a few times over the last few days about what the stress was like finding out about the diagnosis. I thought it about it for a while, and I guess the best way to explain the unexpected bad news would be to say:
Imagine a diagnosis that takes a few days to discover, can take just a few weeks to beat you if discovered late, but is going to take you a few years of treatment without relapse before you can truly know you beat it…. Heck of a challenge…. Challenge accepted!
March 28 Start off as usual… 5 of 10 chemo bags complete in my first cycle. Still handling the side effects pretty well. Ashley Dees is here to take care of me now for the next 9 days. Had a few visitors today to help pass the time…. Clay Dykes, Brandon Clark and Ryan Jordan. Definitely appreciated that. I start the tougher stuff tomorrow at three for my last four chemo bags. So definitely looking forward to that so that I can gauge what I am in for over the next 7 cycles. My Dr. said all of my levels are decreasing the way they want them, so that also is good news. Not much more to report and honestly I am kind of glad. As usual I appreciate the support!
March 29 Today was a little bit more interesting. I was put on my last bag for the first cycle of treatment. It is a 24hr bag that will be done by 430 pm tomorrow. My levels are still well and progressing as expected by my Dr. We had to order delivery dinner tonight because my floor lost electricity at dinner time and I couldn’t get me food order in time. It was restored within an hour, and honestly the delivery food was a nice break. Still only dealing with minor side effects which is another strong plus. Definitely enjoyed talking to some old friends today as well. All is well right now!
March 31 Good morning friends! Josh did not post an update last night so I decided I would post an update for him. Saturday night was long for both of us…. Not much sleep as nurses came in more often than usual. He was able to get a quick nap in before lunch however and wanted to walk laps. We walked 25 before he wanted a break. I could tell he was becoming tired but he insisted on completing 10 more. Yesterday was his first day without his 40mg of steroids and he was starting to feel it. However he had some visitors yesterday; Mary Jimenez, Angela Jesmer, Juan Jimenez, Micah Mcclintic, Derek Jones and Derek’s dad. They definitely lifted his spirits and he enjoyed talking with them. His 24 hour bag of Doxorubicin was finished at 4:30 pm and he will not have any more treatment until Saturday with one ten minute dose and steroids for four days. He ate dinner last night but was not feeling up to walking anymore laps. I believe we were both asleep by 10pm. We were not disturbed quite as much last night and managed to sleep until around 8:00. He ate most of his breakfast but is very exhausted and has been sleeping since about 9:30. They took him off of his saline IV so he is not hooked up to anything for the first time in a week. He was really looking forward to going outside today for the first time in 11 days so I pray he finds some strength later on after a long nap.
Continue to keep him in your prayers and pray his strength returns this week! Thanks so much and love you all!!
Through it all Josh was steadfast in staying strong and keeping matters in a positive light.