Blog Entry
Completely Restored // Levi Hartman
By #peopleof1910, February 23, 2017

My name is Levi Hartman, and this is my story. Nine months ago, a journey began that would change my families lives forever, and would impact many individuals, and challenge the faith of my family, and the relationships my family and I held so dear.

I was admitted into Methodist hospital in the beginning of March for very swollen legs, I just thought maybe I had a little allergic reaction, but after some extensive testing, and seeing a great doctor, I was diagnosed with the lowest level of kidney disease. The diagnosis was called “Nephrotic syndrome: Minimal change disease.” I was confused and the gist of it is that nobody really knows what causes it because there is so little change in the kidney tissue that they can’t really see very much.

Well, I was released from the hospital eight days later with a steroid called Prednisone and some diuretics, and was asked to eat on a Low-Salt diet, with a goal of less than 1000 mg of sodium per day. Within a few days, my legs were back to normal; but the fight with my kidneys was just beginning. I returned to my doctor about a week later because the diuretics stopped working. He gave me a stronger diuretic to help combat the swelling in my legs. My legs returned to normal for the remaining of the next couple months up until the end of May.

At the end of May, my legs began to swell again, so I was confused, because I was still taking the diuretics and steroids. I was currently on 30mg of my steroid, and was increased to 100mg because I had been on the steroid for so long on the lower dose that my body got used to it. I no longer responded to the steroid, which is what helped the diuretic keep the fluid out of my body. So, the doctor came up with the conclusion that I may be steroid dependent, but he did not want to stick the title quite yet. What happened next was the most influential thing that has happened in my life.

 On June 6th of 2016, I was re-admitted to the hospital again, but little did I know, this would be a much longer and frustrating stay. It started out like the other visits, I was given some IV diuretics, and on the first night of my stay, I lost 30 pounds from fluid build-up in my legs. My doctor wanted to do some tests. The first one was to check my entire body for blood clots. Well, he found something, but it was not a blood clot. My doctor found lymph nodes right above my lungs in my neck. So, he called in an Oncologist to look at them. They came and told me that I may have a cancer called Lymphoma. There was going to be more testing, which was the last thing my wife and I wanted to hear.

With the first biopsy they did, they decided that the tissue samples that they grabbed were not sufficient enough to make a complete diagnosis on something this serious. They wanted to have another tissue doctor look at the samples, but still, the tissue samples weren’t good enough for either doctors. They had to do another biopsy, but this time they had to go through my throat to get some larger tissue samples to look at. About a day later, I was scheduled for a surgical biopsy, they made an incision right above my collar bone, and grabbed some larger tissue samples, which even then, weren’t “perfect” samples. They told me that they were about 95% positive that it was Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but they wanted to do one more test to confirm that, and to classify staging. A bone marrow biopsy was scheduled, done, and after 13 days of being in the hospital, they had a complete diagnosis, finally, and it was actually stage 3 classical Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (CHL).

The treatment plan was six to eight months of chemotherapy, most likely followed by some radiation, and there were other options if I didn’t respond very well to either treatments. I was told the remission rate of CHL was around 90-93%, so the odds were in my favor. I began chemotherapy in the end of July, and would receive treatment every 15 days, or twice a month. I started ABVD chemotherapy, which was the strongest chemo regiment available for cancer patients. I was a little nervous, but I knew that God had a plan, and that I would be fine.

Most people would receive their treatments in the hospital over the course of 12 hours, but my oncologist wanted me to receive treatment at the cancer center that he worked at, and I would receive the treatment in 2 ½ to 3 hours. I was also aware that most people that received this regiment were sick all the time, and were never able to do much during the few days after their treatment. However, for me, this was not the case. I, on the rare occasion, would get slightly sick to my stomach, but not once did I throw up from the chemo treatment I was receiving. For the most part, all that happened to me was I got emotionally and physically exhausted, and slept most of the time after my treatments.

Four months into my treatment, we did a PET scan to see how I was responding to the chemo. What my doctor saw shocked him. The cancer was gone. Completely dissolved. My doctor told me that he had never seen this great of a result from just four months of chemo. He had seen a percentage of shrinkage, but he had never seen it completely dissolve and be gone in just four months. I told him that this was because I had been the recipient of thousands of prayers throughout the months, and that was why the result was this way.

People ask me every now and then; “Bet you were mad when you found out you had cancer?” or “were you mad at God?” My answer always was not what they were expecting. I was never upset with God, or mad that I had cancer, I was never upset or spent time moping around about it because no matter what I did; the result was the same. I am a cancer patient, and even better, survivor. In fact, I have seen this whole experience as humbling. I felt honored to have suffered through something like cancer. I felt like I had something I could compare to Jesus’ suffering. I was honored that God had allowed cancer to enter my body. I saw cancer as an “ice breaker” to introduce the love of Jesus to other people, and share my experiences with them.

Now, 9 months later, I am aware of why I have been put through this. I also believe that I am not done, that God still has greater plans for me. I can say now that I am cancer free, thanks to the prayers of my loving friends, family, church, and even more. I was the recipient of so many people’s prayers. This whole experience brought my family closer together with God and Jesus, and I got to introduce the love of Jesus to so many people.



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