Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Free

It's been so long since I've posted anything here. So many people read to stay updated on my health, and there just hasn't been much new to say.

But today, there's something new.

Today my cancer is gone. Just... Gone! It's been 4 years since I've had a treatment. And I'll until now, the best news I've gotten has been, "no change."

Last week I had another scan. It had been about a year and a half since my last one. And each time I have bloodwork or a scan, I have to prepare for the results. Not getting any good news in the past teaches you to prepare for no good news.

It's ok after a couple times. There's an emotional moment, usually. Because fear is real. But that doesn't last. After all, this path is the path God chose for me. And there's a reason for it. Even if I don't KNOW the reasons, I do believe there is a Divine plan. And I've seen good come from it. So after an emotional moment or two, I'm ok. Then there's the test. And then the waiting.

The waiting is horrible. Because there's nothing to do. You're just waiting. Your whole world holds it's breath for days. I don't know about you, but I don't wait well. And this time seemed worse. Maybe because we had gone longer between scans? Whatever the reason, I was a bit more tightly strung than usual. And, of course, the wait was longer than it has been in the past.

But FINALLY, this evening I got the message: all the thyroid cells are gone and everything looks normal.

Did you see that?! ALL GONE. For no reason at all. No treatment, no medicine. It's just gone. It's totally God.

And then what do I do? Because I haven't prepared for good news. Why would I? Why would I even hope? I've had radioactive iodine resistant malignant thyroid carcinoma for 5 years.

And now it's gone. I am overwhelmed. I am free.

And it makes me think of Christ. Because today was like salvation. One moment I was prepared to live the rest of my life with this disease, and most likely die of it one day. And then... It's gone. Without anything I had done.

Christ does that. He just reaches out and gives life to a soul dead in sin. A soul without hope, without a cure in sight.

Ephesians 2:8-9: For it's by grace that you’ve been saved through faith, and that faith not of yourselves: it’s the gift of God, lest anyone should boast.

Beautiful, isn't it? Life. Eternal life, freely given.

What a gracious, generous, loving Lord!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Step in the Right Direction

  Last week I was on my low-iodine diet again for tests.  I had a blood draw on Wednesday and another full-body scan on Friday (I think that's the fourth one I've had so far).  Of course, the diet always is a downer.  It is emotionally difficult as well as physically draining.  My sister-in-law brought dinner for my family one day, and I had a friend or family member take me to each of my 4 different appointments throughout the week...not to mention my sister taking us to my daughter's eye appointment on Thursday.  I know I said thank you to everyone, but I want to say it again.  Thank you so much for your display of love and support toward myself and my family.  Having someone go with me helps keep me calm, and I always enjoy the one-on-one time that seems so hard to get.  Meals to my family are especially helpful when I am on my diet and have no desire to even think about cooking.  I never take these things for granted, and I hope you know how deeply I appreciate each of you.
  I had scheduled an appointment with my oncologist to receive the results of my tests.  Kim planned to take me to that appointment on April 10th.  Things have changed a bit, however.  This morning, my Dr.'s office called to tell me I don't need to come in on the 10th.  The results are back and my scan is clean!  I cried, of course.
  This does not mean that I am cancer free.  I am celebrating like it does, because it really is such good news.  But it's not the same as being in remission.  The scan came back clean, but the blood-work didn't.  My tumor marker is still more than ten times the acceptable level...though even that is close to half of what it was before.  What it does mean is that there are no cancer groups large enough to be detected by the scan.  It means that I do not have to have another treatment any time soon.  It means that we can breathe a bit.  :-)
  I have learned to live with cancer, and go about my day-to-day business as though there is nothing different at all.  I have learned to be at peace with the professional opinion I received that told me not to expect a total eradication, but only hope to control the cancer's growth.  I have even learned to be thankful for cancer because it has taught me so much.  At the same time, the hope never goes away that some day this disease will be completely gone.  I know my Lord is able to heal me, and we have prayed for that healing.  I don't demand it, or claim that He is supposed to heal me, but I know that He can.
  Today I have been granted a portion of that healing.  I will have to have more blood-work done in six months.  At that point, we will either continue to monitor tumor marker levels, or opt for another radioactive iodine treatment.  But today I don't have to worry about that.  Today, my family celebrates.  Today there are tears of joy and a heaviness lifted.  Today there are prayers of thanksgiving and smiles and hugs and an overflow of gratitude that words cannot express.
  I still would appreciate your prayers.  But tonight I encourage you to praise the Lord with me for this gift, this moment of joy.  It is a blessing.  It almost feels like a vacation.  Today, even the unexpected blast of snow cannot dampen my spirits!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Finally Speaking

  Do you ever find that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to accept help?  I do.  It's probably a pride issue, but I just have such a hard time asking for help.  I even have a hard time letting people help.  That's probably why I'm having such a difficult time writing this blog.  It just feels...uncomfortable.  I don't want to come across wrong.
  So, first off, I'm not asking for help.  :-)  We are not in dire need for anything right now.  But I am willing to accept help.  I am often asked, "Is there anything you need?"  Or, "Is there anything I can do for you?"  And many conversations end with, "If you need anything, let me know!"  It makes me feel good to know that people care and want to do something nice or helpful for me and my family.  But it rarely goes further than conversation, because it feels so awkward to actually take anyone up on their offer.  As a matter of fact, I have had this blog in my "drafts" section for over 2 months.  My mom recently called and asked what types of things she could do for me.  It made me ashamed of myself that I would keep so quiet that those who really love me have no idea how to best show that love.  So now I'm posting, whether I like it or not.
  Since my most recent test results, I have been thinking a lot about the future.  I feel like I cannot take anything for granted, and that it would be unwise to not prepare for serious difficulties.  So I am just going to give you a list of things that could be beneficial to myself and my household...and if you have a desire to use any of these suggestions, it will be a blessing.
  • Send a card, an email, a text, a note on facebook, a comment on my blog; these thing encourage me so much, and they often come exactly when I am feeling down.  It doesn't take much time, but it really can make my entire day better.
  • Visit.  I know you're busy.  And I know many of you live a ways off.  But if you can visit me, please do.  I have friends and family states away...people I haven't seen in years, that I love dearly.  I cannot make a trip to see each of you.  But if you're planning a family vacation to Florida, stop in TN and have dinner with me.  Or swing by on your way to a weekend in Gatlinburg or Nashville.  For those of you who are a bit closer, try to plan a Sunday afternoon meal with us, or call me to have lunch with you.  I just want to see you, give you a hug, make another memory.  I'm not trying to sound morbid; I don't expect to die any time soon.  But dealing with this does make death very real, and I have stopped assuming that I'll have time to spend with my loved ones out in the vast, unplanned future.
  • Make a family meal.  Several people have cooked for us over the past year and a half, and it is a blessing every time.  Now that I am working second shift, it is especially sweet when someone prepares a meal, because then I know that my daughter doesn't have to.  She feels like she is getting a special gift as well, which makes it mean even more to me.
  • Make a freezer meal/dish.  If you have a crazy schedule and can't bring something hot to the house, freeze something that we can reheat later.  It is just as much of a blessing, and it works on your timetable!
  • Make a low-iodine freezer meal/dish.  The low-iodine diet I have had to be on will probably be in my future quite a few times.  I know for sure that I will need to go back on it for at least a week in March for more test results.  If I had dishes in the freezer that I could just pull out as needed, that would be incredible.  I did fine the first time I was on the diet, but that was before I was working.  The last time, it was much harder.  I think part of the reason was because I had no desire to plan a meal for my family AND a meal for myself while I was working every day.  You can download a low-iodine cookbook for free here.  Remember that any time it says, "salt," that means non-iodized salt (and also, not sea salt).
  • Clean something.  I think it sounds horrible to say because I know everyone gets busy and houses get messy and women take care of it even when they don't seem to have time or energy.  So to tell someone it would be a blessing if they helped me in this area...it's hard.  But if this is your gift, I will swallow my pride and accept it.  I am not a natural housekeeper.  I am good at picking up, but detail cleaning is few and far between.  I have times when I get into cleaning mode, but...even then, one room about kills it.  So if you are a "cleaner" and you just can't help but want to do something nice for myself and my family, you can come clean a room!  Detailed cleaning in any part of the house really would be a blessing.  Not only to me, but to my entire family.
  • Plan something for my kids.  Life right now is pretty normal (our new normal, that is).  But when I have to have a treatment, that normal is seriously disrupted.  After my tests in March, we will know if/when I am doing another radiation treatment.  Anything you can think of to make a time when I'm away from my family for 3-4 days easier would be awesome.  Planning to come help them with a "welcome home" project, dropping off a new movie or game, teaching Trin to cook a new meal, planning a day at the park (if it's warm enough by then)...this isn't something to be done right now, but my main concern while I'm away is always my children.  I hate being away from Brad, but it's different because he's an adult.  I don't want these times to color the memories my kids have of their childhood with dread or fear.  This is something that I absolutely cannot do for them.  Any show of love and support at these times goes into my most cherished memories.
  • Send cash.  Again, I want to make sure you know I'm not asking for this.  We are managing well right now.  But there are things we are trying to take care of quickly because we don't know what the future holds.  I am not working because we cannot get by without that extra income.  I'm working to pay things off quickly and not be in a pinch over doctor bills.  So when someone sends money or a gift card, it is a very practical, extremely appreciated gift.
  Ok, that's all I can think of right now.  If you are one of the many, many people who have offered help, or have helped in any way in the past, I want you to know how much I appreciate you.  Your show of love wraps around me and comforts me when days are difficult.  Right now, I am doing very well.  I feel great, our household is running smoothly, and I don't have to think about test results for a few months.  But I should have posted this a long time ago, and only my fear of how it would come across has held me back.  I love you all, and look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Many Faces of Family

  Social media has changed so many things in our lives.  In addition to the benefits of picture sending and status updates, we also receive and onslaught of new traditions.  Like "30 Days of Thankfulness."  I'm not knocking it, because it's been neat to read the hearts of my friends.  I, however, have rebelled against joining in.  Instead, this year I am going to share the blessings of the various forms of family that I have been given.  People are the most precious thing in my life.  I don't always know how to tell them I love them, I don't always spend enough time with them or call as often as I should.  But I understand the value of an individual.  I have been shaped and pruned and protected by these people throughout my life.  If one of them had not been there, the person I am today could be very different.  Many are "official" family, and others have been adopted over the years.  This is not an exhaustive list, but it is the list on my heart today.  There is no way to list them in order of importance, so I will do my best to list them in rough order of appearance.  :-)
  The first I have to mention would be my grandparents.  Grandma and Grandpa Eavey are part of my earliest memories.  They are in some of the most precious and also some of the most painful moments of my life.  We have not always agreed, but I have never felt unloved by them.  Grandpa's hug and Grandma's smile immediately take me back to a time before I knew there were problems in the world, when every hurt could be smoothed away by a kiss.  To these incredible people, I have this to say:  When I have been angry at you, I have still been influenced by your steady hold on your convictions.  When I have expected resentment and coolness from you, I have received acceptance (if not always agreement).  I have come to realize that you are not as perfect as I thought when I was five...but you are still my grandparents.  You still love me as you did when I was little, you still want the best for me, you still pray for me, you still encourage me, you still make me smile, you still make me feel loved.  There are parts of my personality, the unshakable parts, that can be traced back to your influence on my life.  I am, and have always been, blessed to have you as grandparents.  I have loved you even when we haven't been close, and I hope you never doubt that.
  Next, obviously, would be my mom.  My mom is...there just is no one word to describe her.  She is the thing that has held our family together.  Her stubborn love (as best as I can say it) has endured much pain and difficulty for the sake of her children and husband.  Her reasoning behind each rule and consequence left no room for argument or escape.  And yet her personal sacrifice never allowed us to doubt her love.  I cannot remember a time when my mom wasn't actively pursuing a way to benefit our family.  She rarely worked outside the home, but she was never idle.  Foster care, babysitting, bagging little plastic parts for a factory up the road...there was always something she was doing to supplement my dad's income while still being available to us whenever we needed her.  She pinched pennies and sewed clothes and never complained openly (if at all) about anything we didn't have.  Looking back, I can see that I grew up with little (financially speaking), but she never allowed our home to feel like it was missing something.  I never felt deprived.  She always did what she had to do, and she did it for us.  It may have taken me a while to realize what a deep expression of love this is, but as I have grown up, I have come to truly appreciate my mom for all that she did (and does).
  My dad did not come into my life in the normal way.  Somewhere out in the world, there is another man who gave me his DNA.  I have never met that man, and I probably never will.  Very early in my childhood, I didn't realize there was a difference in my family.  My grandpa filled the "man role" well in my life.  But there came a day when a very special man entered the scene.  I still get emotional when I think about how I was given a daddy.  In our world today, single moms are not uncommon.  And these single moms fall in love, and that's not uncommon either.  We see kids with mom and step-dad, dad and step-mom...that's just how it is.  But this was different.  This man wasn't content to be step-dad.  He wasn't OK with a family full of different last names, to be viewed as a "mixed family."  He did not just marry my mom, he joined our family.  I was at the wedding.  And I was there when the adoption papers were signed and I legally became his daughter.  I still remember the judge looking at me and saying, "young lady, you have a daddy."  If you have not been that person, you cannot know what that moment was like for me.  And as I have gotten older, it has become even more precious to me.  I know that he didn't have to adopt me.  But he did.  Because of the way my dad showed he loved me, I have a very tangible picture of God's love for us.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard my dad say, "You will always be my daughter, nothing can change that."  When I read in the Bible about how God has adopted us and made us co-heirs with Christ, I hear my daddy say, "You will always be my daughter.  Nothing can change that."  He has always worked hard for us.  He has never just wanted to "get by," but always wanted to be able to give us more.  He has always been quick to forgive.  He obviously isn't perfect, but he is smart and loving and generous; I am more than blessed to call him Daddy.
  I will not forget to mention my siblings.  Being the oldest child, I was often responsible for them in one form or another.  I am thankful for that experience.  It taught me to love different personalities.  It taught me patience.  It taught me to be proud of the accomplishments of another person.  It prepared me for motherhood on many levels.  And now that we are adults, our relationships have changed.  I'm not "the boss" anymore.  But I still feel responsible, I still try to set an example.  And I dearly cherish friendships with them.  Each one is unique.  I have precious memories of our childhood together, and I am amazed that those little ones are the adults I see before me today.  I have great hopes for them and their children.  I am so proud when one of them accomplishes something.  We have times when we are frustrated with each other, but I am thankful that we always have tried to work it out.  I am so thankful that I was not an only child!
  I will take a moment to mention extended family here.  The list can get so long that I dare not begin mentioning individuals!  I will say that my aunts and uncles made me excited to BE an aunt.  To have a niece or nephew think my house was the best place in the world, to watch my kids play with their cousins...those impressions came from my own childhood, and the blessings I had in that type of family.  And my cousins...I loved how we were always friends, no matter how much time had passed since we'd been together.  It taught me (though I didn't know what I was learning at the time) that love reaches past time and distance and simply loves.
  Here along with siblings and cousins, I have a few very dear friends.  Again, I won't list them by name because 1) they know who they are 2) not all of them are still with us and 3) I could never do credit to the individual reasons why they mean so much to me.  These friends have known me for years.  They have laughed with me, cried with me, been happy for me, and even been upset at me.  They have been dependable.  They have listened when I've vented, they have called and sent cards when I've been sick.  They are also the type of people who will still love me even if years and states are between us.  I am thankful for these few who are more than acquaintances.  Who will pray for me, who will chastise me, who will hug me, who know me and love me still.
  And now for Brad.  My husband, my best friend, my leader, my provider, my protector...that one man can be all of these things amazes me.  I will be brief to spare my readers.  :-)  My husband is exactly what I need.  He is steady and strong.  He is compassionate.  He is honest.  He probably knows me better than anyone, and he has seen me at my very worst.  And instead of walking away from me, he has helped me become better than I ever was before.  I could be the first to tell you that he's not perfect, but I didn't need perfection (perfection wouldn't have known what to do with me!).  God knew what He was doing when He put us together.  If it weren't for Brad, I don't know what type of woman I would have grown into.  I am thankful for his steadfastness.  I am thankful for his partnership.  I am thankful for his love.
  And now for kids.
  Trinity is my princess.  Smart, sassy, funny, beautiful.  She thrives on order and desires to create beauty.  She is my right hand in so many ways.  I have never wanted to be my kids' friend.  I am a mom, and that's my job.  But even though I have not set out to make friends with my kids, Trinity and I do have a very special friendship.  Maybe it's due to us being the only girls in the house.  Maybe it's because she's so like her dad that I am already friends with her personality.  No matter why, I am thankful for the relationship that we have, and I pray it only grows stronger as the years go by.
  Andrew, my firstborn son.  Andrew is a genius in his own way, but if you don't know him, you'll never see it.  I am thankful for Andrew because he makes me slow down and take individual time with him.  It's so easy as a mom to get into a routine and just do what you have to do that day.  One day slips into the next and the kids are cared for, but you're so busy you forget to have a relationship with them.  Andrew slows me down.  He reminds me that the same thing doesn't work for each kid.  That my family is made up of individuals and they need individual love and attention.  When that time is taken, I see the beauty of  each moment and creative thinking.  Some days he is my greatest frustration...but he is just as often my greatest source of wonder.
  Johnathan is my cool kid.  Smart, but a bit lazy.  Handsome and fun, imaginative and energetic.  He is comfortable talking with adults, and sweet enough to play with toddlers.  He does everything in slow motion, but generally with a good attitude.  He is easy-going and fiercely loyal.  He is sensitive and genuinely repentant when he's done something wrong.  If all of my children were Johnathans, we would have a very easy time being parents...but we would always be late to everything!  I am thankful for his sweet spirit.  He reminds me to look for opportunities to make others happy, and to enjoy simple things.
  Michael is the one who makes us laugh the most.  He is growing and changing so quickly!  At four years old, he claims the same rights that all the big kids have (he insists he IS a big kid).  He is nick-named "Monster," and there are moments when it is a very fitting title.  He is determined to accomplish whatever he sets out to do.  He is articulate and opinionated.  He is both stubborn and spontaneous.  He has taught me to be thankful for unexpected relationships.  He has stretched my patience and tested my consistency.  I am thankful for his bursts of love and the joy of watching a new life grow and a new personality develop.
  You thought I was done, didn't you?  Nope.  You see, these are the children that were born to me...but there are more that my heart has claimed.
  Dalton is the oldest (as in, with us the longest) "extra" son in our family.  He is fun and loving, and the kids always look forward to his visits.  He is smart and well-read.  The type of person you can have deep discussions with about everything from theology to the most recent super hero movie.  The type of guy who has influenced my daughter's idea of what a man aught to be, and who has given my sons someone to look up to.  He gives me hope that there are still young people who are passionate about the Word of God.
  Gordon came to me by way of Brad.  Dalton brought him to men's Bible study, and Brad adopted him.  There are times when he annoys me, and I never cease to be amazed that Brad (the impatient one) has such an easy time being with him and mentoring him when I (the "patient, nice" one) just want him to stay out of my kitchen!  Gordon is a picture of the power of God to change a person completely.  He is a miracle.  He reminds me to never write someone off because of the way they look, or where they come from.
  Jazzy (most of the world calls her Jessica) is the blonde daughter that Brad always wished for.  We were not looking for her, but she needed us.  I have grown to love this small package of emotions wrapped in a tough-looking shell.  As she matures, she is becoming a beautiful young lady.  The stubborn child is falling away and a soft, strong, loving woman is emerging.  She has taught me the importance of always being available, of always being willing to reach out, even if it's not convenient.  The rewards of this relationship far outweigh the small sacrifice we made when it began.
  Josh is my first son-in-law, by way of marrying Jazzy.  He is another wonder to watch as he takes on the role of husband and leader.  Seeing him listen to wisdom, accept responsibility, prepare to shoulder the weight that a Godly man needs to carry is exciting and encouraging.  Here I see a young man who will one day be a strong leader in our church.  I am so thankful to be a part of his life as he matures and seeks God's will for himself and his young family.
  Can I mention someone I have not met yet?  My heart is flooded with love for a precious little boy named Konner, though he is not even born.  He is Josh and Jazzy's son, due to arrive in late March.  I have heard his hearbeat, I have seen him move, I have seen him stretch his mama's tummy as he grows.  I have seen Jazzy's face glow as she feels him move or hears his quick heartbeat.  He is the promise and wonder of new life.  I am honored that I will get to be a part of his life.  He makes me realize that my influence can reach years and generations down the road.  I am thankful for this reminder to live as the best example of a Godly life that I possibly can.
  My family continues to grow.  There are others that have come into my life, and more who will come into my life.  Each precious person is unique and stretches me in ways I didn't know I needed to be stretched.  I am thankful for the influence they have had on me, and the ways they continue to help me mature.  I pray I am always an example and encouragement to them.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Did Not Marry My Best Friend

  Yep, I'll admit it:  I didn't marry my best friend.  Fourteen years ago I pledged myself to a wonderful man.  He was funny and smart and talented and decisive...and, for some strange reason, he loved me.  It was so easy to love him back!  We had fun together, and I knew he was a good man.  I was so honored to become his wife.
  But somehow I isolated his role in my life.  Here is "husband," there is "friend."  I didn't trust him with all of me like I should have.  I didn't share my hurts and fears and concerns with him.  I loved being his wife, being mother to his children...
  Yet there is so much more to be had than just living in the same house together.  Even more than raising a family together.  I have learned so much over the years!  God has broken me in ways that have allowed my husband to learn who I am more completely than anyone else I have ever known.  And the miracle is that he still is by my side, that he still loves me.
  He is faithful and honest and gentle and firm.  He loves to have fun but knows when to be serious.  He is a provider and a playmate.  He is a leader and also my support.
  There was a time when he was only my husband.  But slowly over the years, he has become so many other things to me.  My strong shoulder when I need to cry.  My wisdom when I am confused.  My coach when I am unmotivated.  My pastor, teaching me from the Word.  My comedian, making me laugh when I want to be mad.  My authority when the kids are difficult.  My wardrobe consultant.  My movie partner.  My dinner date.  My best memories and my greatest future dreams.
  Our marriage is not always smooth and full of laughter.  Sometimes we disagree or even fight.  But every storm brings us closer together and shows me the treasure I have been given in this man.  No, I didn't marry my best friend.  But, by the grace of God, my husband is my friend today.  He is the first one I think of when I wake up, and the comforting warmth as I fall asleep.  He is in my thoughts throughout the day and the one I desire most to please.  He is, now and forever, my best friend.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Not Beaten

  The past few days have been difficult for me.  I have been easily irritated, very quiet, and often near tears.  I can't even tell you exactly what I wrote the other day, and my emotions are too sensitive for me to want to re-read it.  I already know the facts...I don't need to see them written out again.
  Having said all of that, let me assure you that I have come to grips with my test results.  I have had some very good emotions mixed into my days.  An overpowering sense of love for my family, especially my husband.  A determination to make my experiences count for something, to help others by sharing what I am learning.  Knowledge of being surrounded by love and prayers, of so many people caring for me; it is amazing.  And in the quiet moments, peace.  Peace that has never left, even though I have wept.  Even joy.  Joy that God is taking me on this journey for His purposes.
  Maybe you want to know how I know that God plans to use my cancer for His glory.  I'll tell you how:  I've seen the opportunities already.  First and foremost, God has changed me.  Changed me so totally; softened me, broken me, rooted out my pride and tempered my selfishness.  God has changed my family.  My mom tells me she prays more.  My husband is more gentle.  My daughter is more caring.  And these are just a few of the many family members who have been affected.  God is creating a ministry opportunity for myself, along with some Godly friends, to help others through life-changing events.  And He also gives me appointment after appointment with random people who I would have never spoken to.  These appointments happen at the bank, at the grocery store, at the gas station, at work, everywhere I go.  I am able to speak of my cancer and the power my Lord has to carry me through it.  Just last night, I had to stop at the store before coming home.  I just wanted to be home.  It's been a long week.  I wanted to sit with my family and just enjoy being together.  With nothing else on my mind, but weariness in my heart and body, I ran into another divine appointment.  In the parking lot at Kroger, a conversation begun by a stray cart headed my way...
  I am amazed and encouraged.  I had no desire to talk to anyone.  But this woman needed to talk to someone.  She is headed to the doctor today, and she has issues that may be thyroid related.  She is scared and doesn't know what to expect.  Her daughter and grandchild were with her.  I know that fear.  The fear of leaving those you love.  The fear of making them care for you when it's always been your job to care for them.  The fear of pain that might come, the fear of overwhelming medical expenses.  Fear so powerful that you will cry in front of a woman you've never met until just now in a grocery store parking lot.
  So to that precious woman, who I hope is reading this now, I give you this comfort:  You have today.  Make the most of it.  We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we have today.  Sometimes that's all we have the strength to face.  When the overwhelming news comes, I deal with one day.

Sometimes one hour.

One moment.

One breath.

And in that one breath, I find peace.  That one breath is given to me by God Himself.  As is the next.  And the next.  And the very last breath that I take will be the last one that He chooses to give me.  For a child of God, that is an unending source of comfort.

Thank you, Lord, for this breath.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Writing What No One Wants to Hear

  I had an appointment today that not many people knew about.  Even those who knew about it didn't know much about it.  It was one of those things I just didn't want to talk about.  First, there was no reason it should be a big deal.  I was just getting results for the same two tests I had done in June.  They were redone when I had my most recent radiation treatment in August.  Less than two full months apart, there was no reason for there to be a lot of difference.  Even though I like to keep people informed, I don't like to be a drama queen, so I really didn't mention it.
  On the other hand, there were some things that bothered me.  First, when I had the scan done in June, I had to have my abdomen scanned a second time.  Then in August, they again scanned extra shots of my abdomen.  It gave me an uneasy feeling...but no one acted like it was unusual, so I did my best not to dwell on it.  Secondly, the nurse in my oncologist's office mentioned (twice) that the doctor might just call me with the test results.  So when, instead of being called with test results, I was told that he would "love for you to come in," I had a few seconds of panic.  On top of that, the nurse said she would "squeeze me in" between appointments instead of having me wait until the next week to get them.  None of these things bring comfort.  As soon as I hung up from that phone call, I dialed my dear friend, Kim.  I have often turned to her for wisdom and comfort and Godly counsel, and she seemed to be the only right person to call.  I asked her to come with me to the appointment, "just in case."

  Prov. 16:9 A man’s heart plans his waybut the LORD determines his steps.

  My plans weren't my plans at all, come to find out.  Kim was the perfect person to take with me.  God brought her to mind, and I had no idea that things that were going on in her life would be exactly what I needed on the day of my appointment.
  Forgive me if you know some of this already.  Sometimes I feel the need to repeat information for those of my readers who may have missed some posts.  The first time I had these tests done was in November, when I had my first radiation treatment.  There is a number referred to as a tumor marker.  It's a thyro-globulin count, and basically it is a measurement of how much cancer is in my body.  The number that the doctors want to see is four or less...though (in my case) they would be satisfied if it were less than ten.  In November, that number was 86.  A lot higher than four, and higher than the doctors expected.  After the radiation had time to do it's work, they ran that blood test again.  Some of you may remember that I had to have shots to flush my system for that (as well as a full body scan that they did at the same time).  That was in June.  The number that came back from that round was 33.  Still too high to ignore or go without treating, but much lower than it had been.  While most thyroid cancer patients only need to have one treatment, this meant I would need another.  Still, the 60% drop was encouraging.  I had my treatment in August, as well as another blood draw, followed by another full body scan.  Today (yesterday, by the time I get this posted), I received the results from those tests.
  Apparently, the levothyroxine (my thyroid medication) in my system suppressed the thyro-globulin levels and gave a skewed result.  It still gave an accurate body scan result, which was what they were looking at most intently.  All of that to say that today, with an accurate tumor marker reading, my thyro-globulin level is 76, not 33.  That's still lower than 86, which is great.  It does show that the radiation made a difference.  But...it's a bit discouraging for it to be more than double what I thought it was.  Especially when the goal is 4!
  Kim had some really encouraging news in her life, so I was so thankful that she was there.  It gave me something positive to focus on, and a constant reminder that God is in control.
  Hours later, I am handling it much better than I was.  There is still so much to process, and I have not begun to speak of emotions or where we go from here.  I can only manage to tell facts this evening.  This post is not to encourage or challenge or enlighten.  Only to inform.  I know prayers and love surround me, and I thank you for every show of friendship and every prayer for myself and my family.  You will hear from me again soon, as I deal with this disappointment.