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October 8th, 2019 at 6:30 PM Helping One Guy Dinner Honors Phillip Nasworthy

October 8th, 2019 at 6:30 PM Helping One Guy Dinner Honors Phillip Nasworthy

09/16/2019

2019-10

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My name is Phillip Nasworthy. I’m a teacher and coach at Kennesaw Mountain High School. Ten days after my 33rd birthday I went to Urgent Care in Cartersville because I thought I had the flu. They immediately sent me to the emergency room because my heart rate was over 160. I was admitted to Cartersville Medical Center with a high heart rate and 103(+) fevers. I spent nine days at Cartersville Medical while four doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with me. After countless scans, tests, and blood cultures ruling out every viral infection they could think of and any infectious disease you’ve ever heard of, we were blessed when a bed at Emory became available and I was moved there.

The night I arrived at Emory was insane. Twenty or more doctors, techs, nurses, and hospital staff rushed me into a CT scan waiting room. While there, my fever spiked to over 106 and my heart rate was still climbing. They decided to move me into the ICU wing and monitor me around the clock.

Over the next few days, five teams of specialist (hematology, oncology, pathology, infectious disease, and dermatology) worked on me to figure out what was wrong. It took them ten days to find a cause. There were two main problems; Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) was the first issue. It’s a rare disease usually found in infants and in young children, but occasionally occurring in adults caused by infections, autoimmune disorders, or cancer. Acquired HLH Disease happens when your immune system is not functioning properly. Instead of your white blood cells fighting against infection, they attack other good blood cells. The abnormal cells then collect in your organs causing them to enlarge. While at Emory, we found out that my “flu-like symptoms” were the HLH causing my body to turn against itself and react to the cancer in my body.

Which leads to the second problem; cancer. On October 4, 2018, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma diffused large B-Cell cancer. I will always remember that day and how everything around me seemed to slow down for a bit and almost come to a complete stop. I was 33 years old and didn’t even have a regular doctor. Now I had cancer. My combination of Stage 4 cancer and HLH were causing my body to shut down. My bilirubin level got to an all-time high for Emory. Bilirubin is a kidney function and the number should be below one. Mine was 58.7. For a reference, an online bilirubin chart only goes from 0-25. The elevated bilirubin caused me to become jaundice, which turned my skin and eyes very yellow for a week or more.

I was about to begin my first chemo treatment and I asked my doctor, “will this kill me?” and he responded that if the chemo is not effective immediately, then I would have two days to two weeks left. Upon hearing that, I was ready to start the fight. My first round of chemo was 96 continuous hours. After it was finished, my body responded so well, that only a few days later I was discharged. October 15, 2018 was the first day I got to leave the hospital. I went to stay at my parent’s house because they lived in a one-story home. I had become so weak that I was unable to climb stairs or walk without assistance.

I had lost 60 pounds during my 30-day stay in the hospital, and only a week after being discharged from Emory, I was experiencing extreme muscle atrophy. My body was trying to withstand the first chemo round side effects and ended up needing more help. I ended up passing out at home. After calling 9-1-1, my family realized I needed to be transported to the emergency room. My blood pressure was at a critical level of 49/42. This is the lowest it had been and for the 3rd time, we were told I had sepsis. I spent one night at Floyd Medical Center ICU before being transported back to Emory for 3 days.I went through 35 days in the hospital (4 ICU visits, 3 Oncology stays), was poked with a needle just shy of 1,000 times, had 16 separate medications to take daily, etc. It was a nightmare.

God was with me and my family the entire time. I have no doubts. He was there to save me, to comfort my family, to show us that things happen for a reason. Jason Stoughton, the Chaplin for our football team at KMHS, was there with us throughout my journey. He was always there for a prayer, hug, tear, and anything else we needed. During one of the darkest days, Jason came in to spend some time and shed some positivity. I was just about to start my first round of chemo, but before he left, he prayed, with my family, around the bed I was in. I honestly wasn’t sure if I would be alive much longer at this point. While Jason was asking for strength and guidance, a bright light came on directly over where I was laying. I could feel the heat from the light. After the prayer, we asked the nursing staff if they turned it on and they said “no, the only switch is in the corner”. Nobody was near that switch. From that moment on, I knew I would be ok. Wasn’t sure how, but I felt God’s presence.

Jason told me that “you can’t have a testimony without a test”. Now I know that to be true. God would never give us more than we can handle, and He knew we could handle a lot. We’re all better because of what I went through.

On February 6, 2019 I had my last chemo treatment. On February 25, 2019, I heard some of the best news I’ve ever gotten; I was in remission with no signs of cancer in my body.
This journey has proven to be an eye-opening event. I have learned so much about myself, my family, all relationships in my life, and how important every day truly is. This journey has also come with its share of financial difficulties. For that and so many other reasons, I am honored to be chosen as a recipient for the Helping One Guy Dinner.
I’ll never have enough time to thank everyone who had an impact on me and my family through this, but rest assured, all the support and love is very much appreciated!
I look forward to our dinner and fellowship in October and can’t wait to share my testimony.

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