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…

In This World

I prayed, “Abba, Daddy, the love of my life has cancer.”

” In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

I prayed, “Abba, Daddy, a young man has died. He was only 14. He had so much life to live. My grandsons are heartbroken, and they are facing the terrible reality that death comes to all ages.”

” In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

I prayed, “Abba, Daddy, a child has died so very tragically, only six years old. This should not have happened!”

” In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

I prayed, “Abba, Daddy, the world–our country–is falling apart at the seams. People don’t love each other anymore; they are barely civil to one another; there is great violence. It’s sad. It’s scary. Sometimes I am afraid.”

” In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Y’all, God IS in control. It looks like the world is falling apart. Stuff happens daily that causes the heart to ache. Some days, it feels like going forward is just too much of a struggle. Some days, the urge to stay hidden under the covers on my bed is strong. “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His”… (2 Timothy 2:19). He sees the struggle. He sees the fear. He pulls back the covers and says to me–to us, “ In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” 

BUT GOD…

 

Limbo (The Cancer Journals)

When you or someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, the first thoughts are, “Let’s get it out, now!” Sometimes that happens; more often it doesn’t work that quickly.

Before Dave’s final diagnosis of cancer, he had two biopsies and an MRI. Since Dave has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, he’s seen his urologist twice, a radiologist, had a bone scan, consulted with a second urologist, and he’s spoken to numerous friends and prayer warriors, not only about his diagnosis, but also about the best procedure to take care of his cancer.

His urologist, of course, wants to completely remove the prostate. Dave’s biopsy showed two different levels of cancer, one of which is fairly aggressive and lethal (doctor’s words). Those are concerning words, to say the least. If I’m honest, they strike total paralyzing fear in me. As a pastor family, Dave and I have ministered to families long enough to know what those two words can mean. And I don’t want them to mean the same for us.

Treatments have been discussed, researched, and then discussed again. Several options are really not options, unless they are last resorts.

Radiation is out, for the first steps of treatment. Radiation produces scar tissue, which tends to fuse organs together. This means that if radiation proved to ultimately not take care of the cancer, then because of the danger to the organs that manage to fuse themselves to the prostate, surgery no longer is an option. Too risky to the other organs.

Radiation “seeds” are out. Not well proven to be effective, and with his type of cancer… (man I hate those words!)

Partial removal of the organ is out. They could miss some of the bad cells during the partial removal (you can’t see cancer cells with the eye), which could cause a recurrence of the cancer, leading to more surgery.

Dave has actually scheduled his surgery for a prostatectomy for the end of August at the VA hospital. This would involve robotically removing the entire prostate. One night in the hospital, and he’s free to come back home. I’ll let you look up the side-effects—possibly long term or permanent—for yourself. This is not the first preference of the hubster, and I understand why.

Several of Dave’s friends suggested he look into the possibility of proton therapy. Proton therapy has been around since 1954 and approved by the FDA in 1988. It’s not a new procedure; neither is it experimental. There are several centers for treatment in the United States, but none currently in our state. (To learn more about proton therapy, visit their website at https://www.proton-therapy.org. All that we’ve read leaves us very hopeful.)

This is where the limbo begins. Dave made his initial contact with one of the centers last week. They took medical and insurance information and have scheduled a video consultation in the next week. What a LOOOOONG time to wait! I know, I know…in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that long. But when the man you love forever has cancer in his body—aggressive, lethal cancer—it seems like a very long wait.

This is Dave’s first choice of treatment, because proton therapy is non-invasive, has better long-term results and fewer side-effects. If approved, Dave and I will travel to one of the bordering states to a treatment center for more tests, consultations, and fittings for body molds. Then we get to come back home and wait for them to call and let us know they are ready to begin his treatment, which will last anywhere from four weeks to eight weeks, depending on the type of treatment they deem best for him. Please pray with us. A lot has to fall in place. But God…

The Limbo game has a song attached to it in which the singer asks, “How low can you go?” I’m here to tell you, when you are in limbo—when someone you love is in the waiting mode—your thoughts can take you pretty low. But God…

BUT GOD…is in total control (yes, I do believe this); has calmed our souls by the testimonies of others traveling this particular path; wakes me with His word in my heart to soothe my soul; loves us both, no matter the results of the treatment Dave receives. I trust in God completely. I know that whatever treatment Dave ultimately undergoes, God goes before us to pave the way and get us through whatever lies in our path.

So, the waiting continues. The hope continues. The trust continues. Everything in its time, right?

(Dave and I read a book by a man who had this treatment—Calming the Storm: A Christ-Follower’s Victory Over Cancer, by Don Denton. We were very encouraged by his story. The day after he completed eight weeks of therapy, he and his wife drove several hours back to their home. The next day they went hiking, and within a week he was back to regular, everyday activities with NO lingering side effects AND in complete remission. We find his story inspiring and hope-filled.)