Thursday, June 25, 2015

Unchartered Territory

Last week, the date arrived for my 6-month scans. It had been long-awaited and fearfully anticipated. Though I had no symptoms to make me fear the outcome, I was still anxious. I had nightmares of looming tumors that had grown over the past six months and would now make their presence known with a vengeance. All the recent sleepness nights and aches & pains could only mean bad news, right? I tried to be hopeful, but I found myself rehearsing my reaction to both the possibility of new cancer growth and no cancer growth. I could feel myself crumbling if the news was the worst...and breathing sighs of relief if the news was fantastic. It was hard to wait; I only wanted the  anticipation to be over.

Happily, to my great & profound relief and gratitude, the news was the best. Carolyn came into the exam room, asked how I was doing, and immediately announced that my scans looked wonderful. "Clear scans, no new growth!" It was almost unbelievable. I think I was in shock. Lindsey and I were thrilled to tears. We laughed and listened and studied the progression of scans, comparing them to the ones in the past and marveling at the disappearance of those golf ball-sized tumors until all that remains today are minuscule slits of white scarring. Unbelievable? Yes, and no. "With God, nothing is impossible."

New scan dates were made for December, another six months away. Lindsey asked how many "clean scans" we'd need before we could  "graduate" to yearly scans. Carolyn's answer was, "I believe it's after four or five years...but I have to tell you that this is really unchartered territory. We aren't used to these kinds of results. You're part of an amazing story of immunotherapy that has worked exactly the way it should, and it's wonderful." Yes, indeed, it is.

So, so grateful for miracles and prayers and blessings and fasting with a purpose and the never-ending kindness of a loving God. I have lost much in the past six months, including blogger friends who were inspirational examples of courage and love and service. Sometimes I wonder why I am the recipient of a longer life, second & third chances, and relatively good health while they have been taken "home" to our Farther. I believe our time on earth is known and set, whether we are taken in old age or babyhood or in accidents or illnesses. When it's time, it's time. We take with us what we've learned through our trials and suffering or in our innocence. No matter what, we return to where we are loved and cherished and where we are welcomed by loving heavenly parents. Unchartered territory? Maybe, but only for us here on earth...

(Pic of my "new hair" in honor of my birthday & summer & just because...)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Answered Prayers

It has been a week of reflection. Four years ago, after hearing the devastating diagnosis of melanoma from dear Dr. Bradley, one of my first thoughts was of my baby girl's future. I wasn't particularly afraid for myself, but of what such a test would mean to my family, especially my 14 year-old, ninth grader. I knew my older children would be supported & comforted by their wonderful spouses and their sweet little children. I also felt my dear husband would gain peace through his life-experiences & faith. But the tears fell as I thought of my young, inexperienced, quiet, sensitive daughter going through difficult days, months, & years of having a mother with cancer, who might or might not die at a young age. Over & over again, I told my doctors and nurses that I wanted--no, NEEDED--to live to at least see my precious girl graduate from high school. At the time, anything that came after would be sweet icing on the cake.

Miracles happened. Last Thursday night, June 4, 2015, I sat in a packed auditorium next to my sweetheart, tears again rolling down my cheeks, as I watched my beautiful, smart, hopeful daughter walk across the stage, dressed in her white gown, a white cap on her head, to receive her diploma of graduation. I may have even sobbed out loud. I was so proud, knowing she was battling anxiety that threatened to overwhelm her, and yet, she appeared confident. & poised. I could imagine her sigh of relief to finally sit down and relax through the rest of the program. (Earlier she told me, "Thanks for marrying Dad so my last name would start with a 'B'!") I love her with all my heart. I love how freely we can talk to each other. I love how she shares her whole life with me. I love that I have been blessed to see all her accomplishments, triumphs, frustrations, and dreams of the past four years. And I am grateful to God that He continues to allow me good health & energy to keep up with her as she makes new plans for the future. My prayers continue, but now I pray to see her married...and to see all my grandchildren progress & graduate too!! I'll be there!!

Also enjoyed a wonderful 56th birthday with all my children, grandchildren, and my dear mama in St. George! I couldn't have asked for a better gift. 

Scans are looming once again. I have no worries, other than the weight I've gained over the past six months. Blehhh! Summer plans include better, healthier eating and daily exercise. I can do it. I can really do anything with prayer & faith in my Lord. I am blessed.