To fully appreciate the story of The Initial Trip To Oklahoma, you'll want to imagine the scene from the minute the sun comes up. Here, allow me to set the stage:
The sun is peeking over the horizon. I have been up for what feels like hours because Monster trumps Ambien a lot of nights. I have gotten all three little cowboys out of bed, and they are eating delicious bowls of sugary goodness drowned in milk. I am creating piles in the living room. A pile for Goliath, who is going to the local swimming pool with a friend. A second pile for Little Middle and Baby, who are going to another friend's house to play. A third pile for myself, which includes the all-important FILE (you know, just a few inches of light reading about Monster in particular, clinical trials, and low-grade serous carcinomas in general. No big deal.)
The higher the sun goes, the faster I move. Hubby, sensing my stress (he's getting pretty good at that), moves into high gear, and starts tossing dishes into the dishwasher. I finish the piles: swimsuits, beach towels, sunscreen--check. $$ for Goliath--check. Lunches for the little boys plus a snack to share--check. I breeze through the kitchen and dispense everybody's medication--more piles. Back to the bedroom to grab my favorite pink water cup, then back in the kitchen to take in my daily
bread med. Just as the last pill slides down my throat, a terrible realization comes to me...made worse because I know that there is not a single thing I can do about it: The pills I just took weren't mine. I swallowed all of Hubby's meds!!! I start making gagging noises and debating whether to call poison control. Why don't they make those green Mr. Yuck stickers anymore? Ack! How could I have done such an unbelievably stupid thing?!? It wasn't even like I could have been easily confused! Each of the pills that I take is white and round. Hubs has different colors and shapes. I just stood there and downed them, one by one.
Luckily, the story has a happy ending. Hubby's meds knocked me out for a good while, but didn't kill me. It's a good thing he was planning to drive to Oklahoma!
So, he drove and I slept. We ate on the road (I do love me a good grilled cheese sandwich from Sonic!) and arrived at the clinic in Oklahoma City just a few minutes early. The staff was friendly, the facility was nice, blah blah blah. You don't care about that. We were there for 2+ hours, and I signed a consent form for the clinical trial. Then they sent us home.
Yep. An entire day for a few pieces of paper. I could hardly believe it, either.
The next step? They are supposed to be in contact with the hospital here in Dallas, working to obtain tissue samples from previous surgeries and/or biopsies. I assured the research nurse that it wouldn't be a problem. There is probably an entire closet at the hospital with my name on it.
Once the tissue is obtained and it is determined that I do indeed have the cancer that my doctor and I say that I have, Oklahoma will call me. I will get in my car and drive 3 hours there.
When I get there, I will have a CT scan (my favorite!). Then I will drive 3 hours home.
The CT results will be sent to an independent radiologist. That guy will painstakingly measure each of Monster's parts. Each part must meet a certain criteria--1.17 cm. this way, 1.148 cm that way, etc. If Monster cooperates, we move on to the next round of screening. If he is not measurable enough, I am at the end of the road.
Assuming that Monster measures well, I will...you guessed it! Drive to Oklahoma! At that appointment, I will offer up some blood for testing and also do an eye exam. One of the most likely side effects of the MEK162 drug is an eye disorder, which can be anything from swelling around the eyes to a change in vision. This is a proper time to mention my #1 childhood fear: Becoming blind like Mary Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie. I got my first pair of glasses in the 2nd grade. I'm taking that eye exam stuff seriously, friends.
It is my hope that before I leave the clinic that day, the randomization process will take place. As it has been explained to me, the randomization goes something like this: The doctor puts certain pieces of information into the computer, such as my age, Monster's size, etc. etc. Then the all-knowing and all-powerful computer spits out a slip of paper that can alter the course of a person's life forever and ever, amen. One does not argue with the computer or change its mind. All decisions are final. It made me think of this:
Once the Super Computer randomizes me, I either start taking pills twice a day, or...I don't. And if I don't, well, the implications of that are pretty enormous.
If I am randomized to participate in the trial, there will be many trips to and from Oklahoma. Many. So I'm sure you will all be glad to know that between my house and the clinic, there is a World War II monument, an exotic animal safari, a Gene Autry museum, a supposedly-"world-famous" fried pie restaurant, and 5 casinos. I ought to be able to amuse myself in my comings and goings.
Admitting that I've never been to a casino before speaks to my insecurities about gambling. I'd rather stay where it's safe, thank you very much. But now, there is no such thing as safety for me. MEK162 is a crapshoot--nothing but a big risk. Will I be among the "lucky" ones who get picked? And if I take the drug, will it even work? Will it outsmart Monster?
The fact is, there is only ONE sure thing: Nothing about me is random to God. He's known all along how this would play out (Psalm 139:16). He counts every hair on my head (Matthew 10:30). And with or without Monster, I'm just passing through.
"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18