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 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.)