Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scan Results

Well once again I find myself having not written in a long time... I write completely from my heart and it's very difficult for me to put finger to keyboard when I'm hurting or really dealing with something. Needless to say, over the past weeks, I've dealt with a lot. I've had doctors tell me I may only have months to live; I've been on and come down off of some really strong medications; my immune system took a dive; not to mention I went through a good couple weeks of really wrestling with the potential imminence of my own death. To sum up the last several weeks, I've questioned my faith, eternity, God's plan for my life... and I've struggled through some of the worst fear, anxiety, and depression I've ever faced in my life.

Yet here I stand. God has been so faithful to me through it all. He's put on flesh and a voice every single day through friends, email devos, his Word... all sorts of things. I don't deserve his lovingkindess, but he seems to want to lavish it on me every day. He has walked with me through this dark time and has brought me to a bit of a better place emotionally (at least for now). He has given me a bunch of Scripture to hold onto like Philippians 4:6-7 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus" (trust me, that passage really works!). He has proven himself and his promises to be true. For all these things I am thankful.

However, that does not mean that he has answered all my prayers the way I've wanted them answered. God certainly seems to have a plan of his own for my life these days. Case in point - I got my scan results today. Simply put, it's not good. Here's the story as it stands now:

I did respond quite well to the full head radiation. The MRI showed that the swelling in my head went down considerably and the tumors pretty much all shrunk in size by about half leaving me just barely eligible for a localized head radiation treatment that we were hoping to do. Unfortunately, we will not be moving forward with that right now because of the results of the CAT scan. Since I haven't been doing chemo for several months, the cancer has come back in my torso aggressively. It has spread throughout my lungs again and it has also now spread into my liver quite significantly as well.

Since I'm experiencing some reasonable pain in my back now from the size of the tumors in my lungs, my doctors have opted to start off with a three-week round of radiation to my lungs to try to shrink the larger tumors down to make me more comfortable. Then, it's back to chemo... just about the last thing in the world that I could want to do! We have to try to see if we can get the cancer in my lungs and liver under control before we can worry about the cancer that spread to my head. We have to deal with what's actively growing first. Now, there's a reasonable chance that the cancer in my head may continue to shrink over the coming month or two as the effects of the full head radiation linger. However, there's still a small chance that it may also start to grow again as well. I just have to wait and see.

To be honest, right now I feel like it's totally hopeless. My cancer is so aggressive that it seems like as soon as we leave one area go for the shortest time it just comes right back and ravages my body! However, I know one thing to be true... "Nothing is impossible with God!" (Luke 1:37) Please continue to pray with me for full healing this side of heaven... and pray for my heart - that I will accept with faith and joy whatever plan God has for my life... no matter what.

I'll leave you with a song that I've been holding onto today:

Faithful by Steven Curtis Chapman

I am broken, I am bleeding
I am scared and I'm confused
but You are faithful
Yes, You are faithful

I am weary, unbelieving
God, please help my unbelief!
Cuz You are faithful, yes You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world
I will declare it to my heart
I'll sing it when the sun is shining
I will scream it in the dark!

You are faithful, You are faithful
When you give and when you take away
Even then still Your name is faithful
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of my I am choosing to believe
You are faithful.

I am waiting for the rescue that I know is sure to come
Cuz You are faithful, yes You are faithful
I've dropped anchor in Your promises and I am holding on
Cuz You are faithful, God You are faithful

I will proclaim it to the world
I will declare it to my heart
I'll sing it when the sun is shining
I will scream it in the dark!

You are faithful, You are faithful
When You give and when you take away
Even then still Your name is faithful
You are faithful!
And with everything inside of me I am choosing to believe
You are faithful

When I cannot have the answers that I'm wanting to demand
I'll remember You are God and everything is in Your hands
With Your hands you hold the sun, the moon, the stars up in the sky
For the sake of love, You hung Your own Son on the cross to die...

You are faithful, yes You are faithful
When You give and when You take away
Even then great is Your faithfulness, great is Your faithfulness!

And with everything inside of me I am choosing to believe
You're faithful...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Small Lesson Learned in the Midst of a Big Week

Coming home from the hospital is always a whirlwind in and of itself for me... let alone transitioning into life and treatment on new (and very strong) medications... and we won't even mention beginning the process of sorting through all that last week brought to the table. I'm exhausted, but I'm ok. God is good and he has been with me every step of the way so far. I don't expect that to change. But so much else has...

There is already so much to write. I'm just not quite up to it as of yet. I will be sharing more as I'm able... so please be patient with me. Just know that for now, God is with me, I am ok, and I just need some time.

That said, let me leave you with a simple, yet profound lesson I learned as I walked through the events of the last couple weeks:

"Never put off until tomorrow what is on your heart to share with someone today."

I quickly learned how much of everything gets stripped away when you think you won't have much time left to share with people what's really boiled down to importance in your heart. There really are precious few things in this life... and they really are precious.

If you love someone, tell them.
If you're happy they're next to you, share that with them.
If they've made a difference in your life, let them know how.

Take a moment to look for these things amidst your day. They're right there. They always have been. We just manage to overlook them too often in the midst of our busyness and focus on other things. Look for those things that really matter to you. Ponder them and point them out. You never know what an amazing impact you'll have on a person's heart and life when you do... Take it from someone who knows.

"Never put off until tomorrow what is on your heart to share with someone today."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A New Development

I'm writing from the hospital because there has been some misinformation going out about what has developed in my disease and prognosis over this week and I would like to clarify the matter directly.

During the holidays, I began to develop some significant headaches. After coming into the hospital for my regularly scheduled radiation on Monday, I was sent to the ER and given a CAT Scan to try to determine the cause of my headaches. That scan showed signs of metastatic disease in my brain, which means that the uterine cancer I was originally diagnosed with has spread into my head. This, obviously, is very bad news. This isn't a bump in the road. It's a major and very unexpected glitch in my journey. I was so close to finishing radiation and looking forward to remission... and now, yet again, we are realizing just how very aggressive my cancer is. It is rare for uterine cancer to spread beyond the pelvic area and mine has. It is even more rare that it would spread into the brain and mine has. I cannot deny that this is a very serious turn for the worse.

My gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Silver has made it clear that the average oncologist that he could consult to look at my case would determine based on statistics alone that I likely only have a few months to live. HOWEVER, Dr. Silver has been my primary doctor from the beginning of my treatment and does not believe this to be the case. Already, I have faced several obstacles in my diagnosis and treatment that I should not have been able to overcome. Yet, here I stand. Dr. Silver is hopeful that because of my young age and good health we have reason to expect that I will be able to continue on with an aggressive treatment plan.

For now, the plan is for me to continue on to finish pelvic radiation as planned and as of this week, I have begun full head radiation as well. Our goal remains the same... to try to get me into remission. Haiti is now completely out of the picture for me, however, as I cannot take a break in my now-continued radiation treatments.

I greatly appreciate your continued prayers and expressions of love through this difficult time. We serve a great God who still has a purpose and plan in all of this!