Hebrews 13:5 For He hath said I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
I think that anyone that has ever been diagnosed with serious illness, especially ones that you did nothing to cause, feels some sort of betrayal... like your body has chosen to fight against itself. It's frustrating to say the least.
Mike and I left for the Cleveland airport Monday morning. My mom drove us and we arrived by 8:00 am. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:45 and with the time difference that would get us into O'Hare airport in Chicago by 10:10. We ended up delayed by about 25 minutes or so and we got in just after 10:30. We made our way down to baggage to pick up our luggage and look for our CTCA driver. By about 11 we were settled in the limo that the hospital sends to pick up patients. We shared our ride with one other woman.
We got to the hospital just before noon, even though I did not have to check in till after 3. Mike and I decided to have lunch down in the cafeteria and I ran into another patient's mom. Some of you might remember the picture of me in the blue wig.. this other patient and I became friends as we were two of the youngest patients at CTCA. Her mom told me she was in surgery for reconstruction and we got to catch up some. Then Mike and I went up to the resource center and played some competitive Phase 10. It seemed strange sitting in the hospital for a few hours just playing cards and laughing, almost like we were in the wrong place. At 3 we made out way to the Return Patient Clinic and I checked in to have my port accessed. This was done fairly quickly and I had all of my blood work drawn and then my port was de-accessed. There is no need to leave the needles in since I haven't been getting IV treatments every time I am there anymore.
From there we went down to the lower level and I checked in to start the process of my scans. I went back to have my bone scan injection. They called in a special doctor to start this IV in my wrist and he got it on the first try. They left the IV in for my CT scan, and just wrapped it up. It's uncomfortable having this IV left in at the wrist because it's hard to move your hand or wrist without it hurting. We decided that while I waited for my CT scan, we would go to the cafeteria and finish our Phase 10 game. While there, I ran into my friend's mom again and she let me know that she was out of surgery and what her room number was in case I wanted to go visit her. I stopped in to get my CT prep drink and took it up a couple of floors to go visit my friend. It was nice to be able to see her and all of her hair! Last time I saw her she was wearing wigs. I was really happy for her that she is still in remission.
My CT scan started late, I was taken back at about 6pm. They scanned my head, chest, abdomen, and pelvis with and without IV contrast. Then, I was taken straight over to have my bone scan in the room right next door. I have described these scans before. For the bone scan, you lie on a thin plank with your arms at your sides. They wrap you up and velcro you in like a burrito so you can't move. Then, a square measuring about maybe 2 feet by 2 feet comes down within about an inch of your face. This takes pictures of your bones and slowly descends down until your entire body has been scanned. There is a monitor with a screen on it just to the right that has a split screen showing anterior and posterior views of your bones. In the past, I would look at this screen and see if I could tell any areas that may show brighter and would be concerning. I am obviously not qualified to read it by any means, and usually by me doing this, I would worry for no reason. This time, as soon as I was in position to see the screen, I noticed that it was black and only a rainbow showed up across the whole screen. It must have been the way it was angled with the light, but literally the entire scan I saw that rainbow. It made me smile and I honestly did not worry at all while that scan was going on. I wondered later if that was God assuring me everything would be okay, or maybe He was just reminding me of His presence there.
My oncologist had to leave early on Monday due to the birth of his first grandchild, a boy. I was told that I would see a different oncologist this time, Dr. Citrin. He is actually the breast cancer specialist at CTCA, and people there have wondered how I did not get assigned to him in the first place. For some reason, before my visit to CTCA this time, I visited the hospital's website and actually pulled up Dr. Citrin's profile to read about him. I am not sure why I even did this, as I had no idea that we would soon be meeting. I was scheduled to see him on Tuesday at 1:30. Monday night, Mike and I went back to our hotel and ate at the restaurant there and then went swimming for a little bit. I was asleep by 11.
The next morning, we checked out of the hotel at 11:30 and caught the shuttle back to the hospital. We ate lunch and then made our way up to see Dr. Citrin. I talked to his nurse first who went over my meds, etc. Then came Dr. Citrin. I really liked him, I thought he had a nice demeanor. He said he went over my chart and saw that I have had an unusual amount of chemo for someone my age, and asked if I had ever had the genetic testing done. I told him I had, and I was negative for the breast cancer gene. He said he was not surprised because of the characteristics of my cancer. He said the CT scan showed my head and lungs looked good. However, several little spots had now appeared in my liver.
I try not to research too much on the internet because I think it causes a lot of needless worry. However, when I started to have some back pain a little while back, I looked it up. Based on the area of the pain, one cause was liver problems. The doctor was surprised I knew this, as many people do not. He explained it as deferred pain, much like when people suffering a heart attack can have pain down their left arm. Their arm is fine, but that is where the pain manifests itself. That is the same for the liver, the pain can be deferred to the right shoulder blade. My cea and breast cancer tumor markers had also increased since my last visit. Now they think they know why.
Was I surprised by this news? No. Disappointed? Absolutely. I am always so hopeful that I will eventually get that good news. That I will finally get that break. But I suppose my battle is not over. In fact, it may have just changed a bit.
Dr. Citrin told me to stop taking the Xeloda, which is one of the oral chemo meds I take that caused my hands and feet to hurt. Actually, I have not had much of that problem lately. It's difficult sometimes to line up the medical stuff with the spiritual. People have been praying so much that I would not experience that hand and foot pain. I believe that God answered those prayers. Medically, they can attribute no side effects with the drug no longer working properly.
I have been put back on Herceptin, which is an IV chemotherapy that I have been on many times in the past. This chemo combined with the other oral chemo I am already on has been shown to have really great effects on people with my type of cancer. Dr. Citrin reiterated to me how small these spots on the liver are, and how hopeful he is that this treatment will work on them. I had to go back up to have my port accessed again (I guess I had needed it after all). Then I went to the infusion floor and got Zometa for my bones and Herceptin. I never used to get side effects from this one... however, I had flu like symptoms all during the night last night. I am feeling a lot better today, but had a rough night. I am supposed to return to CTCA once a month now instead of every 6 weeks. The hospital no longer helps me pay for travel, as they always did in the past, so that is another area that I know God will work out.
My mom told me yesterday that she has been praying for the last 6 weeks that if I was supposed to see another doctor that God would be the one to make it happen. I like my oncologist and don't want to start seeing a new one. However, I trust that God will lead me in the right direction. When I told my mom I had to see a different oncologist, she knew it was God's doing. It turns out that I got to see a specialist and I trust his opinion.
I have never been one to put my faith in the medicine alone. I am thankful to God for the advancements in treatments and how many options are available. I know that God can and does work through medicine. I believe that He has already healed my bones... not a word was even said about them in this visit. That rainbow I saw on the screen is evidence that God will not flood or overwhelm me. One battle at a time.
Obviously, the news I got was not what I hoped for. But I am asking that people really pray for me. Not prayers of discouragement, but ones of authority. On the ride back to the airport last night, we were in the limo with another couple who were in their 40's. The husband was the patient, it was obvious by the way he appeared. He had a trach in and could not speak and his face was disfigured. His wife sat beside him and held his hand and kissed his cheek as we rode. Even though he couldn't speak, she could understand what he was saying by the sounds he made. I overheard her on the phone saying they had not received good news this visit.
Cancer is such an awful weapon that the enemy has formed to tear families up. It broke my heart to see how weary this woman looked as she watched her husband suffer. My heart ached for the man and all that he was facing. It sounds so childish to say that it is not fair that so many people have to go through this, not just the patients, but their families as well. But it truly is not fair. I am praying for the day that cancer will see it's end.
I need your prayers. My family needs your prayers. Our battle is not over.
I am including a link to the song He Is by Mark Schultz. I listened to it on the plane ride back to Cleveland.
"Even when it feels like there is no one holding me, be still my soul.... He is."
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