Wednesday night, I curled on the floor in our den surrounded by my youth group high school girls. As we concluded our Bible study, I looked around at them and said, “Cling to God’s sovereignty. It’s hard, y’all. But the world is never spinning out of control. It’s only spinning out of OUR control.”
Y’all. It sure feels like it’s spinning out of control… careening and tilting, and I feel like I’m sliding off trying to grasp onto something and my fingertips just squeal and slide.
The oncologist called this morning with results of my PET scan, and I’m still trying to wrap my mind around all the information. I’ve talked with her twice and gotten clarification on some things. I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face—my oncologist is amazing. She went over my scan in detail with the radiologist so she could talk with me about where we go from here and I wouldn’t be left floundering over the weekend.
Here are the facts (trust me, I’ll get to the feelings):
—the areas of concern that they’ve been watching over the past year are continuing to disappear. The area in my abdomen that they biopsied last year is gone.
—my tumor markers continue to drop (one is in the normal range). Tumor markers are not an accurate indicator for everyone; however, they have been a good predictor for me in the past.
—but there is new spread in my abdomen. It’s actually in my left adrenal gland.
—there is also uptake of the radioactive dye in an area of my left triceps muscle. While it is very rare, breast cancer can spread to muscle.
—because of the lessening spots, the low tumor markers, and the time spent examining my scan, both my oncologist and radiologist believe that the area on my triceps is probably muscle injury (a tear perhaps) rather than cancer. But obviously they can’t say for sure. Either way, this would account for a steady increase in pain I’ve experienced in my left shoulder, neck and back.
—she has ordered an MRI for a better look at my arm and shoulder.
—also because of the lessening spots and low tumor markers, she will keep me on my current chemo regimen because it seems to be working to a good extent.
—I will have targeted radiation to the adrenal gland.
—I am overwhelmed by the hard. But thankful for some encouraging news.
A friend recently posted an article about Toby Mac, the Christian music artist, whose son died unexpectedly this week. Toby wrote: “We don’t follow God because we have some sort of under the table deal with Him like we’ll follow you if you bless us. We follow Him because we love Him. It is our honor. He is the God of the hills and the valleys. And He is beautiful above all things.” It wrecked me.
Because, y’all, I’ve been living my life recently like it is an under the table deal. I’ve struggled with anxiety, a LOT of anxiety of late, and I’ve struggled with distance from God. And I’ve been envisioning a God who is standing with his arms raised up waiting to drop the other shoe because I’ve not been a good enough daughter to him. And that’s not our Father God at all. Rather, He is the God Who, like my own father prayed this morning, “isn’t standing with His arms raised in judgment. He’s running with His arms outstretched to hold me close to Him.”
I’m overwhelmed by His kindness. I’m fearful, yes. “Don’t you see that we are perishing?!” the disciples screamed in the stormy boat. Yes. He sees. In fact, Jesus was there precisely because we ARE perishing without Him. To save us. If God sent His Son to die for me, to save me, to bring me to eternal life with Him, how can I doubt that anything else in my life is not for my good? It’s all for my good.
The flood still feels overwhelming. If I look ahead to what my days will look like… appointment after appointment after appointment… more procedures…the burning and fatigue of radiation, my knees buckle. But living in tomorrow is exhausting. Because we don’t know what tomorrow holds.
So we sit in the sadness today. Not frenetic or panicky. This could be much, much worse, and I’m thankful it’s not. Just sad. And heavy.
And we do the next thing. Lord willing.
We will go to dinner with a dear friend who is in town for JMU’s Homecoming.
We will go to the football game tonight at the boys’ school, and we will stand on the field at a pink out for breast cancer game, and we will honor our Ash for senior night.
We will celebrate tomorrow at our third wedding of the fall, another heart friend who has been a kindred since the day she introduced herself to me in the chemo room many years ago.
Bri and Ash will go to another college visit (I may or may not join them) at Virginia Tech (this pains my JMU Duke heart).
Bear will attend a Young Life retreat and worship our Father, “Because I need to, Mom. I need to worship.”
Next week we will go to work and school and play volleyball and tennis and have drama club and I’ll have chemo and we will enjoy our annual chili night for Halloween with friends…
And we will live.
Honest about where we are.
Thankful for the kindness of our good, good Father.
And finding our careening, slipping, squealing, sliding lives stilled by the hands that hold the universe in His.
(Thank y’all for praying for us so faithfully. For loving us so well. We are blessed beyond measure by you.)