Who doesn’t love good news? It’s hardwired into humanity, this affinity for good things. I won’t beat around the bush, chemo is working!
Friday a couple weeks ago I went to have another CT scan. I set my alarm for 7 am again and had a piece of toast and went back to sleep. I woke up hungry anyway a couple hours later. Nothing by mouth till my scan. No coffee, no eggs, no pancakes, no water even. I hate it. My scan was scheduled for 1:30, CT abdomen, pelvis, and the chest this time, to get a clear picture of the lungs. I went for the vanilla barium cocktail instead of banana this time. I don’t think it was a good idea. I’ll do banana next time. What happened to chocolate or strawberry?
I went through the rest of my Friday unconcerned and untroubled. I wouldn’t know the results till I saw my oncologist Monday for chemo round three. In my mind, the tumors would be smaller. But my mother was having another day. I am so struck by how different our journey through my cancer is. She spoke in the morning with my oncologist who said the tumor markers had gone up, from 253 to 274, indicating increased cancer cell activity. Troubling but not abnormal. Apparently, there’s a typical “rebound effect” after a big drop, they attribute it to a flare of increased cancer cell activity. But this can also indicate that some of the tumors are responding well to the chemo and others are not. So the word to my mom was “Let’s wait for the scan results, I’ll call Amy and let her know later today”. Well I didn’t get the call but I wasn’t expecting a call. My mother on the other hand was sick with worry that the chemo wasn’t working and some of the tumors had grown. I didn’t know that was even possible so I was totally unconcerned. However, that’s a classic example of something that could entrap me in fear that I don’t even need to be concerned about. It’s that supernatural shielding I’ve mentioned before.
Thank God for the secret doctor network coming through yet again. My oncologist was so pleased that she text my aunt (the breast cancer surgical oncologist) to let her know. My aunt then called my mom and wam bam I’m getting to know results the day of my scans. Apparently we’re not too concerned with the colon tumor, it’s pretty easy to remove part of my colon and stitch it back together. But the liver is so much more complicated. One tumor in the liver would be manageable, even multiple tumors in one lobe of the liver is manageable but I have one large tumor in one lobe and 3 smaller, but still large, tumors in the other lobe. The largest one shrank the most significantly, almost 25% and the smaller ones shrank 15-20%. My oncologist is very pleased.
My mother was relieved beyond words. I was pleased, but again, I hadn’t had worry or dread so I wasn’t as relieved. That whole idea of not knowing true happiness until you’ve had sadness is a very true concept. I wasn’t anxious so I didn’t have as much relief. This kinda bothered me. And made me wonder about how well I’m actually processing all of this . I generally look at things as rationally and logically and objectively as I can, putting emotions on the back burner until I can wrap my head around something. Then I’ll release emotions proportional to the facts. However, I want for my heart and mind and body to be working in sync here, not lagging emotionally or letting my mind bulldoze my heart like it always does. I had a good weekend of asking the Lord about it. You know, literally “Am I not processing things?” and seeing if anything comes to mind. So as I question, I sit in the emotions and all the thoughts that I’ve been too sick or moving too fast to feel or think. So naturally, I had to allow myself be a little more sad. I have pretty rigid emotional expectations for myself. I know these expectations aren’t from other people or from my God, they’re from me. It’s my experience that things not from the Lord lead to bondage and limited perspectives and lost peace and joy. I know my expectations for myself are learned behaviors that stem from brokenness and disappointments. Needless to say I’m still working through some things.
I was talking to Wallace the other day, feeling sorry for myself, asking “how did I get cancer!?” I had this thought… ok interjection… I’m no theologian, I’m also not a philosophical intellect, and most importantly I don’t pretend or try to be. My thought is my thought and this is my blog. So do me a favor, if you disagree with what follows either talk to me in person (not the interweb) or keep your opinions to yourself. I have cancer. I have wrestled with my fair share of big questions. I believe asking questions is a core to humanity. I also believe that the God I know loves questions and that something he loves more than questions are those willing to wrestle with Him over the answers. There’s a verse in the Bible that says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to seek it out”. I’m not someone that believes that God is behind the scenes controlling everything. I even hate the phrase “God is in control”. But I do believe that He is sovereign. I believe that he is all powerful and all knowing. I believe he doesn’t just know what I will do or say in any given situation, I believe He knows every possible option of what I will do or say and their resulting life changing paths in any million of possibilities and variables. I believe He is so much bigger and creative and kind than the human imagination can conceptualize. So when I say I believe God is sovereign, what I mean is that everything in this dimension is either (that’s an important word) by His design or (another important word) His allowance. Becaus here’s another kicker, I don’t think that humanity and our universe, or dimension exist in a vacuum. I also believe that He has an enemy. Satan, the devil, demons, call it whatever you want, a force that stands in opposition to His goodness and His purposes and wants to rain on His parade. I choose to believe my cancer is not something by His design, but I do believe it is something He allowed. This cancer is literally in my DNA. Some genetic anomaly, not hereditary, a mutation of a gene that creates extra cells in my colon. Sure, the gene could have been mute or whatever, I’m not a geneticist, I don’t really get how it works. But I know that when I was “knit together in my mothers womb” my DNA was mutated. From what I know about Him, all that I’ve read, and studied and experienced, I can say confidently, He allowed it out love and nothing but good intentions. Mind blowing and seemingly naive, I know. When he allowed this cancer, he didn’t just look at it and see nausea and pain and heartbreak (because I know He sees those things and is with me in every second of it), he saw a lot of good things. When I imagine the good things that can come from me having to go through this, I get excited. Because I can imagine a lot of good things. Heck, I’ve experienced a lot of good things already. So how much more can God? He who knows hearts and backgrounds and the intricacies of people’s lives, invisible things beyond what I can see and imagine. How much more can He have good things that he can work with this cancer? Cause if He can see the cancer from my DNA, He can see all the ways He’s going to do wonderful, deep, beautiful things. The God I know, that’s like His favorite hobby, taking crappy, messed up, broken, things and somehow make them good, better than before good. He does it all time. I mean isn’t that what Jesus life was all about? So anyway, I can rest and say “ok, fine. That’s how I got cancer”.
P.s. I’ve got other news and developments but I need to post something so here’s a snippet!