A Blinking Cursor & Choices

I’ve been sitting here for a while, wondering where to start. Thankfully the Olympics are on (on mute) so at least I have something to alternate looking at, other than just a white screen and blinking cursor.

I totally geek out on the Olympics. I watch every bit of them that I can, even the weird stuff, like curling (which my mom loves. Huh?!?!). There is something so very inspiring about people pushing way past the limits even they thought were possible. About trying and trying again, even when you’ve literally crashed and burned. About overcoming obstacles and barriers and dreaming so. very. big. I feel totally crushed at every crash, every slip on the ice, every wipe out, like it was me, personally, experiencing the loss. But oh the way these athletes exhibit such grace and humility and fortitude, even when things don’t go their way. I can’t be the only one inspired by that, right?

It’s a good season to have that paraded in front of me 24/7.

We had two appointments last week that didn’t go like we wanted them to. We met with Dr. Lukas, our local oncologist, on Wednesday. He’s the one we were first referred to when Corey was initially diagnosed and the one who oversaw our first rounds of chemotherapy – pre-transplant. He reviewed with us the results of all the tests Corey’d been through as part of his 90-day, post-transplant work-up. Things could always be worse, but the news wasn’t great.

As a reminder, the level of cancer remaining in Corey’s body right before transplant was higher than they wanted it to be. The marker for one particular test they use showed .1 right before transplant, and they really want it to be more like .05. Obviously, the lower the cancer level going into transplant, the greater the likelihood of a good (or great) response. So despite the higher than preferred number, we all decided to move forward with the transplant since Corey had responded so well to all his other treatment up to that point.

When they ran the test again as part of this 90-day work-up, it came back at a .3. And yes, if you’re asking yourself the same question I asked myself, that’s moving in the wrong direction. All of the tests, including the (double) bone marrow biopsy, basically show that somewhere around 20% of the plasma in Corey’s bone marrow is still cancerous. Going into the transplant we were sitting somewhere around 10%.

Dr. Lukas said if we sit at 20% for the next one or two years (or more) while Corey’s on maintenance chemotherapy and those numbers don’t advance, he’d consider that a success. We were meeting with our team down at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance on Friday to get going on our maintenance program so he advised that we wait and see what they had to say.

Jump forward to Friday and our appointment at the SCCA for the clinical trial workup. We met with a different team than we’ve met with before, including Dr. Holmberg, the head of the clinical trial Corey had been accepted into. She’s one of those super brilliant, academic types (PhD from Harvard Medical, etc…) so our hour-long meeting was filled with a lot of those sciency terms that kind of make my head swim. I’ll spare you all the multisyllabic words and scientific terms and just summarize her report: Corey didn’t respond to the transplant like they’d hoped (like we’d hoped) and she saw no need to do another transplant (which I kind of thought might be the recommendation) because it just didn’t work. She also felt that the clinical trial was not a good course of action for Corey because his disease appears to be more aggressive than what this regimen would likely be able to treat. Her feeling was that treating him with the drugs in this trial would be like putting a lid on a boiling pot and hoping it doesn’t boil over, but kind of expecting it to. All while knowing that in two years (when this trial would end) when they did take that lid off, it would likely break through that boiling point pretty quickly.

Did I mention that our appointments didn’t go like we wanted them to?

Do you remember my “‘Forget all the Plans’ World Tour” post? Yeah, well, here I am… Forgetting. All. The. Plans… again.

The recommendation at this point is to go back to Dr. Lukas and repeat the whole treatment regimen Corey went through when he was first diagnosed. This includes two chemotherapy drugs and a steroid, along with a bone-strengthening IV infusion (that he’ll receive once a month). Once he cycles through three, four, five of these treatments, whatever it takes to get his numbers as low as they can possibly get, he’ll go on a lower maintenance level of one of the chemo drugs he’ll be taking (at a higher dose) as part of his treatment. He responded well to this treatment regimen before so the hope is that he’ll respond well to it again.

Last time he went through this regimen, it took four cycles for his main marker to become undetectable (his numbers dropped below the “detectable” threshold but he never quite reached clinical remission) so that’s kind of what we’re anticipating again with this go-round.

My thoughts on this whole matter are still pretty choppy, if I’m being honest. I don’t feel like I’ve fully wrapped my head around the idea of “living with cancer.” Yes, “they say” this kind of cancer is incurable and that even if the transplant had worked the cancer would come back, likely within a couple of years. But I guess that, subconsciously, I just believed that hey, he went through the initial rounds of chemo and got his numbers low, then he went through the transplant, which was a really. big. deal., then he came home and was careful (at least while I was watching) during that super-important 90-day period following the transplant and that, after all that, his tests would come back clear and he’d be cancer free. And that maybe it would just never come back.

And now here I am, staring at the cursor again, not quite knowing how to articulate what’s swirling through my head.

I mean, I know (like I really know and really believe) that God can heal Corey – in. an. instant. And I will never, ever stop praying that way. I also know that our healing doesn’t always come this side of Heaven. December 1 we lost a woman who was more like a mother to me than any non-family member in my life. Our families really embody the term “framily.” One of her sons was a pall bearer at my brother’s funeral, my sister and I are really more like sisters with her daughter than friends and we have all walked through love, loss, birth, death and every possible thing in between together. And yet this woman, who completely passionately loved God and desperately poured of herself to those around her, lost her battle with cancer. It was ugly and painful and tragic and I almost can’t breathe when I think about it. Yet I also know stories of people who were miraculously healed and have lived beautiful and full lives beyond the blip that cancer was on the timeline of their lives.

So what do I do with the dissonance of these stories?

I’ll tell you what. I make the conscious decision to put one foot in front of the other and run my race (Philippians 3:12-14). I choose to fix my eyes, not on what is around me, not on the news that “at some point your body will reject the maintenance program and we’ll have to look for something new,” but on the Author and Finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). The one who still, even in the swirl of last week’s news and the ever-changing plans, gives me a peace that passes all human understanding (Philippians 4:7). I remember to set the Lord always before me, not just when the news is good, but always, because the fact that He is at my right hand means I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:8). I move in closer because I know that in order to be in the shadow of His wing, I have to be close enough to the Source (Psalm 63:7).

I heard this song the other day for the first time. The verses don’t necessarily capture what we’re walking through, but man, the lines of the chorus jumped right through the speakers at me and I’ve been singing it almost non-stop the past few days:

Fear, he is a liar
He will take your breath
stop you in your steps;
Fear, he is a liar
He will rob your rest, 
steal your happiness;
Cast your fear in the fire,
Because fear, he is a liar.

So cheers to casting that fear into the fire and heading into the next phase of this ever-changing journey…unshaken.

35 thoughts on “A Blinking Cursor & Choices

  1. Praying for you all this morning. Thank you for being a beacon of light and sharing your life’s ups, downs and faith through it all. It impacts more people than I think you’ll know on this side of heaven. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Standing with you! You and your family are in my prayers so much. Your faith is inspiring and I love you know where your source of strength comes from! I love that you’re keeping your eyes on Jesus and just taking the next step. And then the next one. And the next one. He’s with you! He’s with your whole family. Love you so much!

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  3. I read this and I can’t help but think of my Aunt Rhonda. Not once did she let her circumstance steal her joy. I pray that your faith in this storm may be an example to others like I know hers was to so many. Praying for you, Corey and the kids.

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  4. Mindy, this leaves me speechless, but with a heart so full of love and respect for you and for Corey, for your unshakable faith and the way you express it. We will never stop praying. Love you, honey.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s impossible to understand why some are healed and some aren’t. Only the Lord knows all the whys. You are both in the Lord’s Almighty arms and however this turns out He will work through it and get you through it. There’s a song by MercyMe that really hits home and speaks directly to this. It’s called “Even If.” I get chills every time I hear it. When I was looking it up right now I had to play it and it hit me again!

    Hope that shows up. I’m always, always here praying every single day!!!!
    Psalms 27:13-14: I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

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    • The MercyMe song is based on the story of the fiery furnace in Daniel. Cancer is one big fiery furnace. The power of that story is the forth person in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego–our very Good Shepherd, the One Who walks through the scary places with us, Jesus our Savior. Thanks for sharing your dependence on Him so beautifully, Mindy.

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      • Thank you, Patti. I heard that MercyMe song for the first time the week Corey was initially diagnosed, almost one year ago now. It’s been an anthem for me this past year, for sure. We talk about that “fourth man in the fire” in our family a lot. ❤

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  6. Mindy, with everything Corey, you and your family are going thru your unshakable faith shines thru the words in your blog and encourages all who read it. Even in the most difficult circumstances you are leaning on Jesus. He is the one who carries us when we can’t take the next step on our own. Continuing to pray for all of you. Love and hugs.

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  7. Praying right now!
    Psalms 107:28-30 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.

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  8. The Lord knows everything you’re going through and He’s there with you every step of the way. Know that I’m here praying!
    Psalms 31:7-8 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.

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  9. Continuing to lift up prayer for you!
    Psalms 32:6-7 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

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  10. He’s holding you in His loving arms right now! Lifting up prayers right now!
    Psalms 91:1-2 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

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  11. There’s no safer place to be than underneath His Almighy Wings. Know that I’m here praying as always!
    Psalms 91:4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

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  12. No matter what you’re going through, the Lord will always be there with you! Praying right now!
    Psalms 91:9-12 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

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  13. What amazing words of comfort and promise. Know that I’m here praying!
    Psalms 91:14-15 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

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  14. Always here praying!
    Romans 5:1-2 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

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  15. Cry unto the Lord! Praying to Him for you right now!
    Psalms 28:1-2 Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.

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