Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Decision to Have Chemotherapy

Dropped Britt off for the SAT College Board test (the final SAT out of four kids) and headed toward Town Lake for an early morning jog. I have to make a final decision by this coming Friday if I will do chemotherapy or not. I wanted to listen to what God was saying to me. It has been an emotionally charged week spending three days at MDAnderson and then back to Austin for appointments with three of my oncologists here. Part of me is more sure of the love of God than ever before. Part of me is so searching for my beautiful God to please help me in the swirling opinions of dealing with cancer.

I jogged three miles around lovely Lady Bird Lake to the Lamar Boulevard Bridge. I passed hundreds of people but made no eye contact this morning. You see, the tears were flooding my face and wouldn't stop as I listened to Chris Tomlin's "I Will Rise." Did anyone even notice? There is a peace that is flooding my soul not based on my cancerous circumstances. I can't explain it. "Though my heart and flesh may fail, there is an Anchor for my Soul." I will rise when He calls my name. No more sorrow; no more pain---on that day. But it's this day and I do hold sorrow and pain in my heart. And I wrestle with a very good God in the midst. And I do wrestle.

As I ascended the spiral ramp to the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge, Bebo Norman's "I Will Lift My Eyes" came on. "God my God, I cry out---your beloved needs you now. God be near, calm my fear. Take my doubt with Kindnesses. Your love is all that draws me in. I will lift my eyes to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb. Yes, I will lift my eyes to my Healer of the hurt I hold inside. I will lift my eyes to the Calmer of the oceans raging wild." I stood at the peak of the prominent pedestrian bridge spilling my tears into this Reservoir on the Colorado River in downtown Austin. My God met me there and though my tears were many, the lake never noticed either. But my God did! He collected them from all of the billions of gallons of water below. Not a drop was left.

MDAnderson diagnosed even more cancer in the pathology report they generated from the tissue slides that I had sent from the tumors removed and stored in the Austin hospital pathology lab. The MDA oncologists concurred that chemo along with radiation was my hope for recovery from cancer. Make no mistake, MDA was thorough, pristine, and emphatic in their diagnoses and prognosis.

But on Wednesday when I faced my surgeon, my medical oncologist, and my radiation oncologist, it was a remarkably different scenario. They customized my care and gave me options. My medical oncologist took way over an hour with me to explain adjuvant therapy and playing the percentages. We had been waiting for the Oncotype DX Test Assay to return a LOW score. You are safe if it is 1-10. My score was 11. Pretty safe on a scale of 0-100. Over 64,000 women have participated in this clinical trial. MDA wouldn't give it any weight. My oncologists did. Their prediction is that if I take chemo, I will have a 4% greater chance of survival than if I didn't take the chemo. That's only 4 women out of 100 will have a greater survival rate. Does the risk outweigh the benefit? Hardly for me. Not 4%. But...

The microscopic cancer they found in one of two of my lymph nodes has been removed. It's gone. But it's systemic and it is in your bloodstream. What is the significance of microscopic cancer cells in your bloodstream? I can't seem to get a good answer to that question except that chemo will destroy all those cells, even microscopic. It also destroys good things as well like all your white blood cells. So what do I do to take care of this body that God has given me? My oncologists have said that it looks like adjuvant therapy of radiation and hormonal therapy for five years could take care of "it." They have put the final decision whether to take chemo into my lap.

It's a hazy gray area dealing with microscopic cancer cells obtained by an HCI stain. They push the envelope to find them. My God will lead me by Friday in a decision. This I do know--- He loves me so. HE determines the length of my days. I look for peace and rest. I long to love more fully my husband, family and friends He has given me. And I stand in awe of being loved by such a beautiful God in the ways He is caring for me in all of this. He is asking me once again, every day, to surrender and let Him re-make me into a lover. Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Do you love Me? No person can fill my empty soul but Him. My God has so opened doors for me as I have walked these past eight weeks. He'll open the door this week and unlock the decision. I cling to Him.

Please pray for me as my husband and I make this decision of whether to do chemo or not. I am not going to open this post to any comments. I don't want to put on anyone the weight of helping make or influencing this weighty decision. No comments on this post... but know that your friend loves you and values your life. I will continue to talk with medical people this week. I'll continue to do what research I can do. And I will continue to spread out my "news" before our very good God and continue to wrestle and deal with my doubts, my fears, my failures. Our God has already taken care of all that! I have been sick with the flu for the past couple of days and have had to take it easy. I'm back to normal today, gratefully.

I stood on that pedestrian bridge this morning and listened to the Voice of Love. And I told Him a gigantic thank you for all of you who are walking alongside me and my family. Cancer is a daunting journey. If God brings me to your mind, I'd so love for you to ask Him for two things:

Tuesday is surgery again for me. I'll post about it on Monday. My surgeon will remove the cancer that she missed the first time. Oh! Please pray that my surgeon is able to remove all of it this time. I need the Great Physician to show up! He will! And then pray for us as we decide on Friday if chemo is the right thing for me to do. Just like Hezekiah spread out letter that didn't hold good news that arrived in 2 Kings 19:14, here is our not so good news, oh God! Hezekiah went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before his God. Give ear, O LORD, and hear this letter. Open your eyes and see my own letter---a pathology report on Tuesday, oh my LORD, and listen. And Hezekiah's God answered in verse 20. May we hear the words on Tuesday: the cancerous tumors are all gone.

All comments on this post are CLOSED. Come back on Monday and I'd so love for you to leave a comment about my upcoming surgery on Tuesday.


Laura 6/08/2009  
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Praying for Our Friend Joanne Psalm 131:3 Waiting on God. Hope Now. Hope Always.

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"Whoever welcomes a little child in My Name, welcomes Me." Matthew 18:5 We have posted pictures of the orphans receiving their gifts from you. Scroll down to the post entitled "Today Was the Big Day." Many orphans didn't own anything of their own, but now do, because of you.

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I have another blog where I blog daily as a small group of us read through the New Testament this year. It's called A String of Pearls. We carry each other on mats (when we just can't walk anymore) to Jesus and sweet things like that.


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