Wednesday, June 3, 2009

When will that day come?

I must apologize for disappearing for awhile...I think I had many of you concerned about what is going on.  I haven't had much to report lately.  I have been able to "pretend" that nothing is wrong for the past week.  It has been kind of nice to have a break and feel somewhat "normal" again.  But of course reality has set in once again.

This morning I had an appointment with my Oncologist.  I was able to get some of the results of the scans from last week, but not all of them.  As of now, it looks like the density of the cancer has diminished again.  The density is measured by a number.  Before treatment began, the cancer was at a "14".  After the first round of chemotherapy, it went down to "7.5"  Now after this last chemo treatment it is down to "4.9".  So that is good news.  Now it is up to Radiation to get rid of tumor and the rest of the cancer cells.  The Oncologist did say that a good reaction to chemotherapy is a good indicator that I will have a good reaction to radiation.  So the hope is that radiation will get rid of the rest of the cancer.  The biggest concern is that it gets out of the orbit of my eye.  I am sensing this is a major concern for the doctors which makes me feel extremely uneasy.  Whether or not I will need surgery after the radiation is still unknown.

Tomorrow I will be having a biopsy of a lymph node that has appeared to be questionable in all of the scans done thus far.  It is slightly enlarged which has the doctors concerned.  According to the scans it does not have cancer in it, but they are being cautious and doing the biopsy just to be safe.  If the lymph node does have cancer in it, they will need to do a higher dose of radiation on my neck which could complicate things and make the side effects worse.

Radiation and chemo will begin on Monday.  I will be getting chemotherapy once a week during the radiation treatment.  It will be at a lower dose than what I have been getting, but I may still experience some side effects.  Plus, getting chemo during radiation tends to magnify the side effects of radiation so I am extremely concerned.  Radiation will be given every day Monday - Friday for 7 weeks.  After the treatment has been completed, they will wait for 3 months before they do any more scans.  It takes awhile for radiation to take affect.  
So the journey continues and will be long.  I am not sure when this will ever end.  It is very difficult when there is no end in sight.  It is tough when I think about what I have been through thus far, which was very difficult to get through...and yet the worst is yet to come. Radiation is going to be a huge mountain to climb and I am worried I am not going to get to the top.  And there is no option to quit.  

When I am feeling like there is no hope I have found much needed encouragement by reading the book of Psalms.  Recently, I came across this verse...and reading it again has given me the hope I need to get through this.

Psalms 30:2-12 "O Lord my God, I called to your for help and you healed me.  O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit.  Sing to the Lord, you saints of his; praise his holy name.  For his anger lasts only a moment; but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.  When I felt secure, I said "I will never be shaken."  O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountains stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.  To you, O Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:  What gain is there in my destruction, in my going down in the pit?  Will the dust praise you?  Will it proclaim your faithfulness?  Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help.  You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever."

Davids words in Psalms are exactly how I feel at times....begging God for Mercy and for his healing.  Feeling alone when I don't feel God's peace, yet feeling strong enough to climb this mountain when He sends me encouragement.  Praying that God will spare me from going into a pit of horrible side effects from the radiation.  Praying that some day my wailing will turn into dancing and that I will once again experience the joy that David talks about in this verse.  When will that day come?  Who knows, but I am going to need all the strength, encouragement and prayers I can get to get me there.


Anonymous said...

Huge praise that the density has reduced significantly!! Thanks be to God! I am focusing on the positive and am glad your Dr. thinks a good reaction to chemo may mean a good reaction to the radiation, and that the tumor continues to shrink. I know you are experiencing so many ups and downs. Hang in there my friend! I see you and your faith growing so much through this! I just got the footprints in the sand image in my head right now. I am thinking right now in your journey there is just the one set of footprints as God is carrying you through this! I love you!
Michelle A.

Anonymous said...

Great to get an update! Thanks for sharing the latest on your journey. I pray that you will enjoy these days before you begin chemo and radiation together. It is so reassuring to know that God has a plan and a purpose and that you have been finding it in MANY ways thus far in your experience. Continue to be strong and continue to look at the positive side of things. You are loved and prayed for often!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Sue! I will be out of contact for the next week or so. Please know that as I see the birds many prayers will be lifted up in your name. I will take some photos for you and send them your way. I will be specifically praying for you and that your radiation will go well. If you ever need a ride to radiation, I would be happy to help. I am available to help you now that school is done. I will be free beginning on the 18th. Take care Sue!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue,

I was thinking about you, as I often do, and I thought of another book that may give you some inspiration. It's by Lance Armstrong and it's called, "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life." In it he talks about his own battle with cancer and his subsequent victory over it. You could very well have this already, but if not, just let me know and I'll send you a copy.

I have to go back a moment here to your Bird reference in your previous post... I too saw a blue bird just this week and was so in awe! I have never seen one in our area and was excited about the sighting. You are lucky to have one right by your house to witness those amazing blue feathers each day! They are my favorite bird because of that color.

Take care Sue, stay strong, lots of us are hoping and praying for you to kick this cancers you know what!

Jen Larson

Anonymous said...

Sue.....that is GREAT news that the chemo is reducing it so well!! We will pray for the best reaction from Radiation and minimal side effects. Hang in there Sue! That Day Will Come!!!
All our love
Trey and Cindy

Anonymous said...

I am so very proud of you,my friend! Reflect on the progress you have made in this fight that contiues,yet withthose strong strides you aremaking,you are winning! Praise God! Focus on your strength, God's palm and our shoulders as we lift you. Call on us for continued encouragement! Nice work!
Joan and Tom

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue -

Been thinking about you a lot lately. I am about to head up north for my 4th annual "celebration vacation" - which was my family's way of "bribing" me through chemo.

I distinctly remember someone telling me as I begun my treatments, that this all will seem like a tiny little blip in time when all is said and done. But as I was staring the beginneing of treatments in the face, I wanted to slap his own, fiercely. A "blip?" You've got to be kidding me? How can 9 MONTHS seem like a "blip?"

It was hard. Extremely hard. And I'd like to say that I focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, as I neared the end. But all I could think of can I do this AGAIN? Oh yes, and AGAIN after that? And yet, AGAIN?

You do. You keep plugging. There really is no explanation as to why, other than the sheer grace of God. Yes, there were breakdowns. Oh my, yes. But you do keep plugging along.

You have a wonderful faith foundation. I can see that that faith is being "refined" as you keep plugging along in your journey.

And before you know'll be doing your own "celebration vacation." (I just slapped my own face for you.) But shhh... I'll let you in on a little secret...he was right. (To a degree, anyway.)

Patience was never a virtue I readily possessed, either. I still don't pretend to be a patient person, but I do admit I'm a little more tolerant now. Doesn't mean you have to like it, though.

You will celebrate soon, my friend. You will celebrate soon.

Jami Helvick :

Shawn Anne said...

I like Jami's comments. :) I'm glad she mentioned wanting to slap her friend for his "words of encouragement."

I think I have shared with you before that you will, no doubt, hear "words of encouragment" to which you will want to retort "easy for you to say... you're not the one dealing with this!"

But know that everyone just wants to help and to be there for you... it is so hard to find the words that don't sound like they minimize what you are experiencing. I'm glad you have the guidance and encouragment from some people who *have* been in your shoes. :)

You have so much (and so many!) on your side, Sue. :)

Shawn Anne

Anonymous said...

Hi Sue
I am astonished at your strength and courage. We have never officially met but I grew up in Platteville with Jason. He shared with me that you will be treated on the TomoTherapy machine. I work for the company in Madison WI and want you to know if you are looking for someone clinical to talk to about the treatment, I would be happy to connect you. Please don't hesitate to contact me! You have incredible inner strength and such a positive outlook. Keep the Faith.
Becky Nolden :)