"The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him." Lamentations 3:25
I went to the hospital today not knowing what to expect, so I prepared for every contingency. I half expected to meet with Dr. F and hear that the chemo was not working so I should go home. I was ready to hear that the chemo had at least stabilized the cancer, so I packed my usual chemo gear (soft blanket, purple socks, Seinfeld DVD, phone charger) in case it went on as scheduled. I made sure that Mom was ready to take notes and that Hubby had his questions waiting.
There is no way I could have been prepared for what happened in today's appointment.
"A faith and knowledge resting on the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time." Titus 1:2
A solemn Dr. F waved a handful of papers in my general direction, but neither of us bothered to read them. We both already knew that they contained the discouraging news of the unchanging cancer in my body. The cancer that stubbornly remains, refusing to be affected by any poison or toxin, and defiantly growing back when temporarily removed. The cancer that, it seems, is there to stay.
With gentle words and tears in his eyes, the good doctor recommended that I return to MD Anderson as soon as possible. Sweet Nurse Allyson had already begun working on setting up an appointment for me there. Dr. F said that, obviously, the chemotherapy had not done what we had hoped: to eradicate the cancer. It is highly unlikely that any chemotherapy drug will. We are wasting precious time. Radiation therapy may be an option, but if I do it, any future surgery will be out of the question.
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." Psalm 143:8
He went on to say that another surgery may be an
option. The procedure would essentially mean removing any and all "stuff" that is left in my abdomen area. Details are sketchy to my untrained mind, but I understand enough to know that it would be a huge risk, and even if it is successful, would require a radical life change...definitely not what I want to do.
I went on this afternoon to the infusion room for a round of chemo. While it is not shrinking the cancer, it may be stabilizing it enough to satisfy Dr. F until I can get to MDA. The Human Q-Tip was racing around, and there was a gentleman several cubicles over who completely disregarded the TV volume rule. Everyone on the second floor could hear his Spanish soap opera. I spent most of my time there feeling like an outsider looking in. I was thinking to myself, "Don't these people know that I AM DYING?!? But they are still just acting like everything is normal...tending to patients and watching television and filling prescriptions, and my whole world was just shattered. Again."
"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:17
A lot of things changed today. I went to the hospital this morning feeling cautious, but still hopeful. Tonight, hope is hard to find. Time is a precious commodity. If I do nothing--if the option for chemotherapy is taken away and I choose to not go forward with surgery, in a matter of months the cancer can grow in such a way that I will be in an emergency situation that I will not survive. I was surprised today. In all the scenarios I imagined, it never occurred to me that my doctor would say, "I can't do anything else for you. We have exhausted all of our resources" without actually saying it.
"I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." Malachi 3:6
God wasn't surprised today. He knew. He has known all along. Tonight, while my heart is breaking all over again, He knows what lies ahead. He knows what my choices are. He knows the number of the days of my life and how many breaths I have left to take. I don't feel like rejoicing tonight. I am not lifting my voice in song or raising my hands in worship. What I am doing is telling Him how I feel. How I need more time with my little cowboys. How I hated the tears in my mom's eyes and the look on my husband's face in that doctor's office today. I am shaking my proverbial fist toward the heavens and asking WHY??? But I am also soaking up the Truth. I can find comfort in knowing that while my little world is changing faster than I can keep up with, God is unchanging. Today, yesterday, forever. He promised to remain exactly the same. I believe Him. I don't understand Him, but I believe Him.
"There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." Proverbs 23:18