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.'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.