It’s true. I’ve been dragging my feet, dreading writing this post. Mostly because I have been struggling with how to deal with our recent news, and I couldn’t even make sense of it and put it into words.I had my check up two weeks ago at UNMC. We left home at 6am to make my 9am appointment. We didn’t have to wait long for the doctor to come in and tell us that my tumor markers, the ones we had all prayed would trend down or become zero, were virtually the same.
Ugh…she then presents the options…
- Watch and wait. Although there really is no indication that things will improve on their own at this point since over the last 8 weeks nothing has improved. But we do have a little time to see if things change on their own, or just wait out and hope things remain stable.
- Do Radioactive Iodine treatment (RAI). I have done this treatment before and the cancer came back, but she is hopeful this time all that’s left is microscopic disease which RAI is good for. I did have some uptake when I had this done the first time, which means I’m not totally unresponsive to it, and this could get rid of the cancer once and for all. But there’s risks going through this a second time…
- External beam radiation. This is more of your traditional cancer radiation therapy where they beam my neck externally for the course of days/weeks. This doesn’t have the side effects like ingesting nuclear material like option 2, but has risks of causing damage to areas of my neck. She also said she would hate to skip to this option without trying option 2 first.
As I’m writing this, I’m getting the nauseous feeling in my stomach that I did that morning of my appointment. I suppose that’s why I didn’t want to write this…avoidance has been my coping mechanism this time. But I do want to keep people in the loop and I know the power of all your prayers this time is needed more than ever.
Now, there was some good news at this appointment. She did an ultrasound of my neck and saw nothing of concern. This is a great news! This also indicates that it’s more than likely microscopic disease left that is making my tumor marker detectable.
So, here we are…facing treatment decisions and I have absolutely no clue what to do. Going through RAI seems like a no-brainer at times, and I know that is what my doctor would like me to do, but I feel like I have done all these steps before and it’s always left me right back in the same place. Why go through all the disruption to my life and negative side-effects of doing RAI when living with stable cancer isn’t all that bad for me.
But my cancer may not always stay stable…
And that is what we are praying and pleading God for guidance for our next step. We hope you will do the same for us.
A friend gave me book that has been so helpful to me in making sense of these recent setbacks. I keep coming back to what the author says here:
I’d like to direct you to one more snapshot from Scripture that completes the picture of God’s provision in times of pain. You’ll find it in John 15:1-8. In this passage, Jesus borrows a word picture from the plant kingdom. He explains that because He loves us, He must do some pruning in order for us to thrive and blossom…But the Gardener is loving and devoted. Someone has said, ‘The Father is never closer to the vine than when He is pruning it.’
I feel this is where I am…there is more pruning to be done. And although I feel so picked over in this moment, I deep down know that this further trial will bear great fruit someday. And that hindsight will come and I will look back and these moments will make perfect sense.
Until then, we are seeking His guidance for our next steps. Although the twists and turns in this journey have been difficult, God has always provided the clarity we needed to make a good decision. We ask that you join us in prayer that we receive that clarity one more time to help us decide what to do.