Cancer? What Cancer?!?

“Index shaft of the left humerus lesion previously noted is not identified on the current study.”

Know what that means? 

The cancer that was there before is NOT THERE ANYMORE!!!

What great words to hear!  After several months of appointments, waiting, tests, waiting, more appointments, more waiting, more tests, chemo, chemo and more chemo…more tests, waiting a little bit more, more appointments…those words were like “a breath of fresh air in a dusty world”.  That last quote is actually something the Lovely Daughter said to the Little Man a while back and they were what came to mind as I was thinking about the feeling I got when the oncologist said, “The Cancer Is Gone.”

My brother, who lives in Vanuatu, flew home for a few days and was able to be with us in that appointment with Daddy to hear those words.  When the doctor came into the room, I told her that he came all that way so she better tell us good news and she said, “It was not a wasted trip then.”

Thank you to everyone who prayed for us and with us, cried for us and with us, allowed us all some extra grace over the past few months, who brought meals to my parents, who laughed with us when we needed to laugh and gave us time to “shut down” once in a while.  You may never know what a relief and encouragement you were are to all of us. 

Even though the cancer is stupid, bye bye, gone, this isn’t over yet.  Daddy will begin radiation therapy soon.  He will have it every day for a couple of months.  The doctor said that really the purpose of the radiation is to give that old cancer a last “kick in the butt.”  So, please don’t stop the praying. 

Here’s the Plan, Man!

Ok…so here’s the plan for Daddy.  I know you’ve been wondering.

We met with Dr. Moore in Kokomo who will be his oncologist.  I like her.  And she loves Jesus!

Basically, he has two types of Lymphoma.  One is the Follicular B-Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma that they found in front of his ear.  It was the original lymphoma diagnosed.  It’s indolent, meaning that it is slow growing but it is also non-curable but also not really the “killing” kind.  Yes, one doctor actually called it that!  The other one, found in his left humerus is Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma.  It is aggressive.  And it’s stage 1.  This one actually came FROM some little very bad, no good, should be ashamed of themselves, rogue cells of the other one.

Daddy’s will look like this, except his “tail” will also be purple.

So…Today we met with Dr. Inder Seekri who will be putting in a portacath.  I like him.  And he loves Jesus!

Basically it’s a port for them to be able administer the chemo.  It will go under his skin and the plan now is that it will stay in for 2 years.  That will be inserted as an outpatient surgery on Monday the 22nd.  Then Tuesday the 23rd will be his first of 3 cycles of chemotherapy.  Each cycle lasts for 21 days.  So, he’ll have one on the 23rd of October, November 13th and December 4th.

We go in the morning for “chemo training” at the cancer center.  Then this Thursday he will have a nuclear medicine heart scan to make sure his heart will be able to handle the chemotherapy.

After the initial 3 cycles are finished, they will do another PET scan to see how the cancer reacted.  Then, decide from there what the next steps will be.  Either more chemo OR begin radiation.

That’s pretty much it for now.  I wanted to be able to give everyone a heads up.  If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment below.

We are so incredibly thankful for all of you who are praying and thinking about us all during this time!

I’m Letting Go

I just wasn’t sure how to title this post.  I thought that since this month is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I would share my own personal breast cancer story.   I should warn you though…this is a very long post.

Please don’t feel that just because you are here now, that you have to keep reading.

 

 

 

 

 

So…here goes.  I kept a journal during the summer of 2009.  Here is part of that journal.

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Wednesday, May 13, I had THE mammogram.  I was called and told there was something on that mammogram that required another mammogram and ultrasound.

Tuesday May 26.  That morning, I went through the 2nd mammogram and then headed over to the ultrasound area at the hospital.  During the ultrasound, the technician took quite a while and it wasn’t until she had me hum that I began to think maybe something was up.  Years ago I read somewhere that when you hum, sound waves don’t pass through solid masses.  When I asked if the sound waves were passing through whatever it was she was looking at, she said, “I can’t tell you that.”

After the ultrasound, she said the doctor would want to speak to me.  So she took me to this room, it was dark and there was the doctor, a radiologist and 3 nurses.  All along 2 walls were pictures, mammograms and ultrasounds, of my boobs.  The doctor introduced himself, but don’t ask me what the heck his name was.  I do remember thinking he was handsome.  By now I was starting to get a little concerned.  He told me what was going on.  He showed me my pictures and showed me that there was a “suspicious” spot on my right breast.  They felt they needed to do a biopsy of it, but not to worry because biopsies were often just routine and not necessarily a big deal.

So, in a daze, I scheduled a biopsy.  I don’t even remember walking back to the women’s center.  My mind was going a million miles an hour, trying not to panic.  Biopsies are no big deal, remember?  The handsome doctor said so.

Wednesday June 3, I went to the hospital for the biopsy

The next day, Tuesday morning June 9, 2009, my doctor called me. I was at work.  He actually called my cell phone…he didn’t even have one of his nurses call…it was the doctor himself.  uh oh.  This can’t be good news.  He told me they got the report back.

I have carcinoma in situ. The lump in my breast is cancerous.

I have cancer.

There was some question about whether or not the “carcinoma” had spread to the surrounding tissue, so it was sent to Vanderbilt University for a closer, second opinion.

He told me that it, the lump, would have to be removed and then proceeded gave me a list of surgeons here in Kokomo and 1 in Indianapolis.  He said it was my choice and told me a little about each one, but I needed to decide soon.

Soon?

You just told me I have cancer in my breast and I have to decide something?

Am I supposed to be thinking clearly?

So, I’m sitting in my office at church, people everywhere in the building.  My hubby is at work on the farm.  What now? So, I called the hubby on his cell phone and he said he was actually here at the church ground spraying (his family farms the ground behind our church).  I asked him to come to the office, the doctor had called.

I went outside and stood in the church parking lot and told my husband of 16 ½ years that I have cancer in my right breast.  That was possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

Hubby and I talked for a few more minutes then we decided that we should go back inside the office building and tell my pastors.  They prayed with us and then release me from work for the rest of the day.

We made lots of phone calls to those whom we had told we would call when we got any news. I called my sister in South Africa. Lovely Daughter was spending the day and night with a friend.  Little Man was at Grandma’s for the day. My Oldest Son was at home.  So…now the question is…how and when do we tell the kids?  And my Mom and Daddy.  I ended up picking Lovely Daughter up from her friend’s house, having My Oldest Son go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. My Pastor and Very Good Friend came with us to be a support for me and to be there for my kids when we tell them.

So, that’s what we did.

We sat in my parents living room and told our three kids that I have cancer.  I was so concerned about telling all three of them for different reasons…I wasn’t sure if Little Man would even really understand what was happening.  He was only 6.  Lovely Daughter was only 12.  Entering her teen years, would I even be here for her?  I don’t even know at this point really how bad this is…And then…My Oldest Son.  He just graduated from high school.  He’s in the process of joining the Marines.  I did not give birth to him.  He came to be our son after his first mom died.  How can I possibly tell him I have cancer?  This just isn’t fair.  To have to tell him that now I, his 2nd Mom has cancer.  I was just heartbroken.  I was scared to tell them.  They’re my children.

After talking with the kids for a while everyone gathered around me and Daddy anointed me.

Then, I called my brother in Vanuatu…I had to wait to call him because of the time difference.

Then, we decided to celebrate my future healing by going to the India Garden. My most favorite restaurant. Some very good friends who live in Indy met us there. Mmmmmm, comfort food.

Over the next 2 months, I would live my life in a daze. Always on the verge of tears…never did a day go by that I didn’t cry at some point.

Friday, June 19.  I’ve very weepy today.  On top of everything else going on, My Oldest Son left home last night.  He got angry and packed his bags and left.  How am I supposed to deal with this?  I find out I have breast cancer and my son left home.  I’m so sad.  I’m so broken.  About all of it.  I suppose I should feel great.  And I should know, that apparently, God thinks I’m strong enough.  1 Corinthians 10:13.  Whatever.  I don’t even know how I’m supposed to feel about anything.  Angry?  Mad?  Sad?  Hurt?  Confused?  Ok.  That’s how I feel.  Right now anyway.  I’ve decided that I should keep this journal as a way to get things out of my head and heart and hopefully process them.  I don’t want pity.  And I don’t know what to tell people with they ask, besides prayer, how they can help.  I want to say, “Can you make all of this just go away?  That’s how you can help.”  I know all the scriptures, how God will work everything together for good, how he will never leave me nor forsake me, how he doesn’t give us more than we can handle, how he is the Great Physician, he is Jehovah Jireh, he will provide, how he wants me to cast all my cares upon him, I believe he will heal me, I believe he loves me.

So, when will the knowing and the feeling collide?

Sunday June 21, 2009…My Son came home last night.  With many tears and apologies, he asked if he could come back home.  That was the longest 2 days of the summer.

We scheduled the surgery for Tuesday, July 29…MORE THAN A MONTH AWAY…HOW WAS I GOING TO GET THRU IT?

Over the next few weeks, I tried to live as normally as possible.  I still went to work, I still went to church, I went to church camp as a high school girls, I had my 20th high school class reunion…friends and family came over to check on me to see how I was or to offer encouragement…

A lot of people ask how I was doing and told me that they had been praying for me every day.  I guess I just really don’t know what to tell people when they ask how I’m doing.  Fine?  Okay?  Crummy?  Sad?  Scared?  All of those?  Sometimes I don’t feel like people REALLY want to know. And then, if they do, how do I know who means it and who is just being polite?  So, who do I share what with?  I’m trying to live my life as normal as possible and yet there’s this “thing” hanging over my head and I know it’s there and YOU know it’s there.  Are YOU someone who wants to REALLY hear about it?  Or are you just being polite and asking the question out of habit?  Because that’s what you’re supposed to ask people?  I have learned that I shouldn’t ask others that unless I’m really willing to hear their answer, their cry for help…When I ask that question to someone, do I really care?  Is my relationship with them one that is trusting, honest, even to the point of taking time from what I’m doing to ask how they are and then am I willing to care about their answer?  Most of the time when someone asks me “how are you?”, I can’t honestly tell them.  I just don’t know right now.  Or maybe my answer is, “Right now, I’m okay.  But ask me again a few minutes later and that probably would not be my same answer”.  I don’t feel physically sick.  It’s my heart that feels the most down.  But not my literal life-pumping heart.  It’s my spirit, I guess.  I try to continue my day doing normal things, and yet there’s something potentially very terrible inside my body.  Like the elephant in the room, that no one really wants to talk about, or doesn’t know how to talk about it.  I feel like I do a pretty good job not thinking about it much.  I try to keep busy, doing something, going somewhere.  But, then there are times like right now that … alone writing this and my reality hits me.

I have cancer.  I don’t FEEL like I have cancer.  I don’t even like saying that word.  It can be a very ugly word.  cancer.

The day of the surgery came and went.  Lots of friends, co-workers, pastors, came to offer prayer and support during the surgery.  Many people brought meals over.  I realized how truly blessed I was and my family is.

Tuesday August 11, 2009

Sooooo…today I sat down in Daddy’s recliner and ‘happened’ to look at his little calendar thing that sits on the table beside his chair and this was the devotional for the day…”Within each of us is a desire to know what lies ahead, a desire to have hope, a desire to have an anchor cast in the land to come so that we can endure the land of today.” -Max Lucado… Zeph. 3:20...At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you back home. I will give you honor and praise from people everywhere when I make things go well again for you, as you will see with your own eyes.  Hmmm.  Is God trying to tell me something?

August 27, 2009

The biggest news from the day was that the breast cancer doctor’s office FINALLY called with my results.

Clear.  No Further treatment needed!

I don’t doubt for one minute that my LORD healed me.  He removed that ugly little cancerous tumor from my body.  It’s not there.  I’m reminded of the verse, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles.”  I feel that all I’ve been doing through this process is waiting.  I mean, on May 11 the doctor ordered that first mammogram, then I had to wait on that, then after that, I had to wait for a second one, then I had to wait for the biopsy, then I had to wait for the results, then I had to wait to meet the breast oncologist surgeon, then I had to wait for surgery, then my surgery was moved back a day to I had to wait longer, then after the surgery, I had to wait on the results and when they finally came, I had to wait on a second opinion.

That’s a lot of waiting.

A lot of resting in the Lord.

A lot of having to trust Him for what is coming next.

He knew all along why He had me wait.  He was right there.  Waiting with me.  I’ve surprised myself a bit, I guess, by trusting that He does know what He’s doing.  And I know He knows what He’s doing.  I don’t doubt that.  It’s the “why” he’s allowed it that I wonder about.  What was the purpose to all this?  Was it for my benefit?  Or was it for someone else’s?  Was it so HE would be glorified through it?  Was He?  Did I truly honor Him in my thoughts and actions through this time?  If the outcome had been different, would I feel hurt, anger?  Part of me feels that now, knowing the outcome so far.  Why put me and those I love and who love me through this?  What’s the point?  Was my going through all this, the tests, the surgeries, and waiting, waiting, waiting worth it all?  And going through it all without either my best friend or my sister here with me?  Why?  What was the point?  What lesson did I learn?   I learned to let go and wait on the Lord.

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Three years later and here we are.

There is a song that continues to speak to me.  I honestly don’t remember hearing it before that summer more than 3 years ago.

It’s called “I’m Letting Go”.  I think that’s the lesson I learned.  To let go and let God have control.

 

I’M LETTING GO

My heart beats, standing on the edge
But my feet have finally left the ledge

Like an acrobat
There’s no turning back

(Chorus)
I’m letting go
Of the life I planned for me
And my dreams
I’m losing control
Of my destiny
It feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
So I’m letting go

This is a giant leap of faith
Trusting and trying to embrace

The fear of the unknown
Beyond my comfort zone

(Chorus)

Giving in to your gravity
Knowing You are holding me
I’m not afraid

(Chorus)

Feels like I’m falling and that’s what it’s like to believe
Feels like I’m falling and this is the life for me

Appears on Album: My Paper Heart

 

Cancer Sucks. Answers Help.

Finally some concrete answers. 

Daddy has Follicular Non-Hodgkin’s B-Cell Lymphoma.  It’s in the bone of his upper left arm, his humerus.  He will begin chemotherapy soon.

I had a friend just ask me how I’m doing.  That’s a good question.  When I talk about Daddy having cancer, I feel torn between this need to be strong (because I know that God’s in control) and this feeling that if I could just start crying I wouldn’t stop, like a lump in my throat and waves of sadness.  Like right now, it’s a good thing I’m not eating anything because I wouldn’t be able to swallow it.

How do we reconcile our human emotions with the things we know that we know that we know about the Lord and His all-consuming power, love, sovereignty?  Is it ever okay to cry in fear of the unknown if I truly believe that God’s got this? 

I think yes…Ecclesiastes 3:4 says, “a time to weep and a time to laugh,a time to mourn and a time to dance”. 

 

more doctors…

This Yesterday morning I went with Mom and Daddy to meet with Dr. Daniel Wurtz at the Indiana University Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis. As I mentioned in a previous post, Daddy had a PET scan done on August 13.  That scan showed an area on his left humerus (upper arm bone) that was “concerning”.  He was then referred to Dr. Wurtz to further explore that area.  So, today we went.  His appointment was scheduled for 9am and he was supposed to get there about 30 minutes early to check in.  (shhhh…don’t tell him I’m telling you this, but he had actually put in the wrong address into his GPS so we were a little lost.  But only by about a few blocks.  No biggie.  Just running a little late.)  We actually got there right at 9.  He checked in at the desk and was immediately called back to get weighed, measured and blood pressured.  After sitting in the room for a few minutes, Dr. Wurtz’s nurse practitioner came in and chatted and asked questions.  Then she said that the doctor would want to do a regular x-ray on his upper arm.  So, they sent him down to another part of the hospital for that.  He was gone for about 30 minutes.  When he came back, the doctor came in and basically said that yes, there is some concern, but he wanted to get another picture.  So he ordered an MRI for later in the day at 2:30.  He told us that on Wednesday mornings a bunch of radiologist and other doctors get together to discuss new cases.  IU Med Center is a top-ranked teaching hospital…but I totally pictured one of those scenes from “House” when they are all sitting around a table trying to figure out what steps to take and trying to figure out what is going on!  Anywhooo…so he said if they were able to do the MRI yesterday, he would have all the tests to present and talk about.  He told Daddy that if his ears were burning in the morning, he would know why?

By now, it was only about 10:30-ish in the morning.  So, we had some time to kill waste find something to do…

So…we left the hospital…o what to do?  what to do?…I mean, really.  We’re stuck in downtown Indianapolis for more than 3 hours AT LUNCHTIME!  Whatever shall we do? India Garden, of course!  So, we drove to Broadripple and ate at my favorite restaurant! (And Daddy’s).

After lunch, we made our way back over to IU Med Center and waited for the MRI.  We still had more than an hour before the MRI so we decided to ride the IU Med Center People Mover.

People Mover

As soon as we were on it, I felt like I was back at Disney World.  I told Mom and Daddy that I wish I had brought my Mickey Mouse ears.  I also thought it would be fun to bring the kids to Indy for a day and ride it with all of us wearing our ears…we could pretend we’re back at WDW.

Anyway, the whole trip from walking to the people mover and getting back to the MRI office was about 30 minutes or so.  So, when we got back Mom and I  just waited in the waiting room for Daddy’s test to get finished.

When the test was finished, we left the hospital around 3:30 and drove home.  And by “we” I mean, Daddy drove home while I snoozed in the back seat.  😉  (btw, I HATE sleeping in the car.  It is so uncomfortable and not restful AT ALL.  I was miserable the rest of the evening.)

Back to Daddy…He has an appointment scheduled with Dr. Michael Robertson on October 1st.  He’s a lymphoma specialist.  Please continue praying.  We appreciate it.  I cannot tell you how much it means that we have so many people lifting him up to the throne at a time like this.  Thank you.  amen.

Cancer Sucks.

I just didn’t know how to begin this.  I wrote those words just a little more than three years ago.  But, at the time, it was myself I was referring to.  I call the summer of 2009 the “breast cancer summer”.  It seems like a lifetime ago.  I can look back and say I’m cancer free.  But this time, it’s not me.

It’s my dad.  and it’s Lymphoma. 

Several months ago Daddy started having back pain.  He also noticed some hearing loss in his left ear.  After checking some things out, the doctor noticed a “fatty tissue” on Daddy’s cheek in front of his hear, under the arm of his glasses.  He decided to do a fine needle biopsy on July 17.  Nine days later, he told my mom and dad that it looked like lymphoma.  The doctor then decided to do another biopsy to get a larger sample for testing.  Daddy had that surgery on July 31.  He was then referred to an oncologist, Dr. Salter.  We met with Dr. Salter on August 8 at the Oncology Center at Howard Regional Health in K-town.

Dr. Salter scheduled a PET scan for yesterday, the 13th and a bone marrow biopsy for this morning, the 14th. 

Seester and I went with Mom and Daddy to both appointments.  The bone marrow biopsy was a little scary for me, not gonna lie.  We were actually in the room with Daddy while it was going on.  The pathologist and his assistant came in and prepped Daddy and I started crying because I was afraid we weren’t going to get the opportunity to pray for Daddy.  I just felt the need to pray for God to be there and for peace and for wisdom and for the doctor’s steady hands.  Seester finally asked the Doctors if we could please pray before he got started, so I prayed out loud…for the doctor to hear. 🙂 

It was a little frightening to see Daddy in this position.  He looked like a little kid up there on that bed, curled up into the fetal position (so they could get him in a good position for the biopsy). 

We are praying for healing, we are anticipating the unknown, we are believing in God’s sovereignty, we are claiming His peace that passes all understanding.

While it is frightening, sometimes scary to think about what the future holds, I also know the One Who holds that future.  I just need to remember that He’s already in that future.  There is really no reason for me to be frightened. 

But I still don’t want to lose my Daddy.

 

 

Daddy has this tattoo that commemorates the outfit he was in in Viet Nam…the 196th Light Infantry Brigade.  Then on top of that insignia is a three-nail cross, which represents the three nails that pierced Jesus’ hands and feet…the cross covers the insignia…the sin…the guilt…The Cross brought Freedom to Daddy at the moment of his salvation. 

Seester and I decided to honor Daddy by getting that same three-nail cross tattoo on our wrists.  It’s an awesome tattoo and we are very grateful for the man who honored our Daddy by doing these tattoo’s for free.  Thanks Jayme!  You Rock!

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