Gah! Has it really been a month since I last posted?! I’ve been meaning to post, then I decided to wait because there wasn’t much new to report, then I had some things to report but had to take a few days to work through them in my head, so, well, ta-daaa! Here’s a new post! And here’s what my brain looks like right now:
It’s a combination of a swirling, pulsating bait ball moving with incomprehensible speed and rhythm (and yes, trying to avoid being eaten by a shark), a skillet full of scrambled eggs and an overwhelming sense of, “huh??” and “wha??”
In short, my brain as too many tabs open.
Before I tell you about our F O U R H O U R appointment earlier this week (all W O R D S, no actual procedures), let me tell you that I am, predominately, a right-brained person. I am generally creative, artistic, intuitive. And while I do have some left-brained characteristics (logic, order, verbal communication), I am most definitely not a left-brained lover of all-things-mathy-and-sciency.
So when our aforementioned F O U R H O U R appointment began with an almost T W O H O U R visit with a doctor who is 80% research scientist and 20% clinical oncologist, take me at my word when I say my brain was spinning when he left the room. Don’t get me wrong, he was very nice, and V E R Y smart (goes without saying, I know), but ALL. THE. WORDS. were big and mathy and sciency. Percentage this and parts per million that. I have new wrinkles in my forehead from squinting really hard, trying to understand. As I have at every appointment since this began, I took copious notes and, thankfully, with some time and fresh air they’ve begun to make sense.
The appointment I’m referring to was our first appointment at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. This is where we’ll go for the next phase of treatment, and this was a mostly informational meeting, full of details about the stem-cell/auto-transplant, a tour of the facility, etc. We’ve just finished Round Five of chemo and they’ve put us in a holding pattern while they wait for all the latest lab results to come in. So in the meantime, they’re preparing us for what’s next.
Corey’s numbers are looking good. Really good. There are 4 proteins in his blood that are out of whack and that they use to measure the cancer levels. One of the proteins should not be present at all, and the other 3 should be present to some degree but were waaaay out of whack (queue the mathy and sciency facts and figures). We’ve gotten the results for the one that shouldn’t be present at all, and, as of the end of Round Five, it is undetectable.
H A P P Y D A N C E ! ! !
We haven’t gotten the results of the other three yet, but they were very close to normal range last time they tested and we know they’ll be even better, if not fully within normal range, when they come back this time. If they do come back within normal range, Corey will be considered to have reached Clinical Remission.
E V E N H A P P I E R D A N C E ! ! !
They said it would take anywhere from four to eight rounds of chemo to reach CR, and we’re so grateful to have either reached it or gotten close enough to advance in treatment after just five rounds.
I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll take care to reiterate it here again. We believe we are in God’s hands and our faith in Him remains unshaken not just because this news was good, but because He is good. He is good when the news is good and He is good when the news is not.
And this week was full of a little of both.
After our nearly two hours with the oncologist, we met with Dawn, a transplant nurse who came in to explain their team concept (we’ll be assigned to a team that will be with us throughout the whole process) and the role of the caregiver during the transplant phase, which, of course, is me. I’m a processor and there’s a lot (A LOT!) I’m still processing from this appointment but I will say that after this appointment I think we’re heading into pretty uncharted territory.
Both the oncologist and the nurse remarked that Corey doesn’t look sick, he hasn’t really felt sick (remember, he’s had a bunch of small side effects, but no major ones), and he’s responded really well to the chemotherapy regimen he’s been on. And yay for that! BUT, buckle up because this next phase will likely look a lot different.
They talked a lot about not just the auto-transplant (more mathy and sciency stuff that I’ll explain later), but life after. They talked about median survival rates, about when (not if) the cancer comes back, and how and what form it can take when it does come back, about how they’ll draw enough of Corey’s bone marrow out so they can do another transplant when the cancer comes back, and all the risk factors of the transplant and the side effects both during and after and, well, now maybe you get the spinning bait ball and scrambled egg references.
As a believer, I know God is able to heal – IN. A. MOMENT. I know that it’s possible to walk through all of what we’re heading into and defy the odds and everyone’s expectations. I know God can do that.
I also know that within the past 10 days, two of my friends have lost their fathers to cancer. One lived a hard life, but my friend had the amazing privilege of leading him into a personal relationship with Jesus the last time she saw him, which was on Father’s Day, just weeks before he died. The other I’ve known most of my life. He was a pastor, an evangelist, a missionary and amazing man of God his whole life. So while I know healing can come in a moment, I also know sometimes it doesn’t.
I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve cried a lot this week. More than I have all-together since Corey was diagnosed. These appointments have brought into stark reality some things that have seemed, up til now, kind of removed and at an arm’s length. I’ve felt a lot of different things in the past few days, but I can honestly say one thing I feel none of is fear. I am so very grateful that the Lord has blessed me with a sense of peace that is, truly, incomprehensible. I’m a planner and there are decisions to be made and logistics to consider and classes to attend to learn how to do things I’ve not considered before, and how it’s all going to work out is not even remotely clear to me right now.
But as it’s somewhere in the wee hours of the morning, I will try to close all those extra tabs open in my brain and pray for fresh perspective in the morning, along with a healthy dose of wisdom, favor and ability beyond what I possess. I will remember another verse from Psalm 16 (my favorite Psalm and the one the title of this blog is taken from) that says, “I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.” and I will pray for sleep that both refreshes my body and instructs my heart – because in all reality, we’re just getting started.