Final Thoughts on Cancer–Maybe (The Cancer Journals)

I’ve shared about Dave’s cancer a couple of times now, but I have some leftover thoughts I’d like to purge. Writing them down seems to be the best way to do that.

When Dave was first diagnosed with cancer, I must be honest and say that I didn’t handle it well at all. Having watched my mother and my brother both die from cancer, the mental pictures that filled my thoughts and devoured hours on end were just terrifying. My insides felt like jelly, and I couldn’t think of much else but the fact that my husband, the man I love forever, had cancer.

According to his doctor, he had two different cancers in his prostate. One was the kind that many men contract and which doctors just watch for years, because of its slow growth–the kind of cancer doctors say men might die with but they won’t die from. The second kind of cancer was labelled aggressive and lethal. You can understand why that would cause anxiety, right? Aggressive. Lethal. Those words beat like a constant drum in my mind. And the pace at which we were going about finding the right treatment to get rid of that cancer seemed to move as slowly as molasses.

I always thought I was strong. I always thought I could handle anything that came my way, that I’d be the bastion of non-wavering faith when the “big” challenge struck. I was none of those things. I was weak, scared, and felt as if my liquid insides wouldn’t hold the weight of me if I stood for long. I couldn’t sleep; and every time I did stand from my chair, I found the kitchen, and whatever was edible, I ate it. Pathetic.

But God.

It didn’t happen immediately, but it did happen. God sent friends to me, reminding me that God was totally in control. And they didn’t stop reminding me. I’m thankful for their constancy, because it eventually registered in my muddled brain and shook me awake from my stupor. Family and friends prayed for us, faithful folks that kept us in their minds constantly. We received cards, phone calls, texts, and emails full of concern and promise. And ALL of them shared the same message: “God was not surprised by this; God is in control; God loves you; God will be your strength.”

And He was. He is.

Dear friends and family, thank you for reminding us that we are not alone. Thank you for bearing me up in my weakness and trusting that I’d eventually recover my senses. Thank you for not being disappointed by my first responses.

I momentarily lost my direction and acted as one without faith. BUT—with the word of God being my lifeline each morning, His promises shining through the letters written by men with human frailties, and through the unwavering love and support of God’s people I don’t feel so “liquid” inside anymore.  

Having experienced a bit of a setback in his treatments, Dave is currently in a holding pattern. Hackers, it appears, have struck at the medical world and taken computer systems hostage across the nation. This has put Dave’s treatments on hold, and whereas he should have completed 13 treatments to this date, he has completed only ten. But God. God is in control. He is in every moment of every day. He knows that not only Dave, but thousands of folks are not receiving the care they need. He isn’t surprised, and one day He will take care of the evil in this world. Until He does that, I cling to this: “I will lift my eyes to the mountains; where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:1-3)

I am not strong. But God is.

The Journey So Far (The Cancer Journals)

So, Dave spent a week in Knoxville being poked and prodded with pretreatment procedures. They weren’t all fun, but they are necessary to be able to begin his treatment in the next few weeks.


Forward Movement (The Cancer Journals)

If you’ve experienced it, you know that life takes on a different reality when a loved one has cancer. All the plans we are making for Dave’s treatment feel almost surreal. It’s one thing to make plans to travel to go on a vacation. Those plans can be cancelled if necessary. But right now, we are making plans to travel a fair distance and live in an unfamiliar location, to spend time each day at a medical facility—and these plans can’t be cancelled. It’s not a vacation (even though proton therapy has been called the “radiation vacation” because of the low amount of side effects). This is a super serious journey on which we are embarking, and it affects my emotions almost as if I’m living inside a strange dream.

In the weeks (seems like years!) since Dave was diagnosed with cancer, we have had to make several important decisions. The major decision for Dave, of course, was deciding which type of treatment he would seek to battle his cancer and still remain as whole as possible.

Dave does not make decisions quickly. It’s a fine quality (yes, really it is), as it means he has spent much time reading lots of medical material, considering every angle of a situation, weighing all the consequences, and arriving at the most comfortable decision for him. If I’m honest, waiting for him to make a decision was pretty challenging for me. I just wanted the cancer gone from his body, and I wanted it gone NOW. Dave also wants the cancer to be gone, but he also wants to experience good quality of life after his treatments. So, it took him awhile to decide which would work best for his body and his mental health.

After a great deal of prayer and personal research, discussions with friends who have experienced the same cancer, and talking with at least three different doctors, Dave came to the decision to go forward with proton therapy treatment at a facility in Knoxville. Remember, now, Dave learned he “possibly” had cancer in May, and it was confirmed in June. For me, this has been a near eternity of waiting, watching, and fretting. I know I’m not supposed to do that, but there you have it—I fretted. After all, we are talking about the man I love forever; and I’d like to have many more years here on earth with him, so time is of the utmost importance.

The ball is rolling now, and very soon we will spend a week in Knoxville, Tennessee, where Dave will receive pre-treatment procedures to ready his body and his medical team for the actual therapy. After getting these procedures completed, we will be back home until we are called and given the green light to return and begin the proton therapy. This involves six weeks of treatment, five days a week.

You aren’t going to believe this—or maybe you will—but just two days ago—one week before we are to arrive in Knoxville–the hotel we had booked for our week’s stay in Knoxville called and cancelled our reservation! Why, you ask? Because the state of Tennessee has commandeered not only that hotel, but a couple of others as well, for the purpose of housing college students who are being tested for the C19 virus. Yes, I said THREE hotels. I know, right? Whatever. Thankfully, I was able to get different reservations rather quickly, and my blood pressure is back on track.

All that’s left is finding a suitable dwelling for the six weeks we are in Tennessee, and we are good to go!

(For anyone thinking they might take advantage of our time away from our home and visit it during the wee hours, please let me remind you that our home is dedicated to service to–and protected by–God, as well as inside and outside cameras, an alarm system, and a young man the size and strength of the Green Hulk. Just don’t try it, okay?) 

For the many who have offered daily prayers on our behalf, and have encouraged us in so many different ways, we are overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness that God has blessed us with such great family and friends. We love and appreciate all of you. Thank you so very, very much.

We take comfort in knowing that our God is in control of every aspect of this time in our lives. Our prayer is that we will be faithful witnesses of His goodness and care, to those we meet along the way. It is, after all, ALL about HIM.

Stay tuned for updates as we travel this journey…