Saturday, April 30, 2011

A New Adventure

This present journey we are walking began in 2004. We've made many trips to and from Birmingham in the last seven years. After this last diagnosis a couple of weeks ago, we'll be starting a new adventure.

After seeing my surgeon in Birmingham on Monday, April 11, his office contacted MD Anderson in Houston to refer me as a patient. I received a call from Rochelle, my Patient Access Specialist on Thursday. She let me know that they had received the information from Birmingham, and I had to be medically accepted. A team of doctors would review my records to make that determination. She called again on Monday morning to let me know that I had been medically accepted by Dr. Hanna. She said he would be out the next week, and she would call me when she had the appointments. She called me back on Wednesday, April 20th to tell me that we were to be at MD Anderson on Tuesday, May 3, at 7:00 a.m. to sign-in at New Patient Registration. My appointment with Dr. Hanna would be at 8:00. She said that he also wanted me to have a PET scan which would be at 10:00 and a head and neck CT scan at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4. She said he also wanted me to see 3 oncologists, and she would call me when she got those appointments set up. I later learned that I will see a radiation oncologist on Wednesday at 9:00, a medical oncologist at 11:00, and a dental oncologist at 1:00. We will have 2 full days of appointments. Unless they schedule another one, we'll be free to head for Alabama on Wednesday afternoon. This visit will be just for consults and tests. We're hoping to hear that I am a candidate for the robotics surgery and a surgery date can be scheduled.

On our drive home from my doctor's visit on April 11, there was some stress about the cost of going to Texas. I chose not to discuss it and said that God would provide. On Tuesday of this week I read a simple post by Tony Evans: "Jehovah Jireh - God's Provision Shall Be Seen." God's provision HAS BEEN SEEN every day since Tuesday! Today my Heartlight verse on my computer desktop read: "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19. God isn't just meeting our needs financially but through the prayers of SO many people for every little detail of this trip and all it entails. I am beyond words at how God has proven Himself faithful and true to His name. I am humbled and in awe that He chooses to manifest Himself so mightily on my(our) behalf.

*The initial post was edited to allow for adjustments in my memory :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Living With Cancer

That phrase is something I’ve had to accept as a part of my life.
I had a biopsy in December of a bump on the very back of my tongue. My dr. in Birmingham thought it was probably scar tissue but did the biopsy. We were thankful the results came back as inflamed tissue. The bump got bigger and continued to bother me, though. So, when we went for my regular routine appointment in March, I requested that he take it out. I just didn’t feel comfortable leaving it there to possibly get even bigger and be more invasive if it HAD to be removed later. He completely understood, said he trusted me, and we set up a time for surgery. I had the surgery on March 29. He said it wasn’t something he could do in his office so it was set up as outpatient. We were at the hospital at 9:00 that morning, but it was nearly 3:00 that afternoon before they got to me. I ended up staying overnight in the hospital and coming home the next morning.

We went back for my follow-up today. My dr. is always thorough and so he was with this surgery. A larger area to heal and some stitches, too. He said I am healing well. The pathology report showed…everything fine… Actually, that’s what we were thinking/hoping he’d say. He said it was cancer. Then he said we had two options. He could do another invasive surgery like I had in my mouth two years ago. It would require cutting my neck, getting a free flap from my leg, and the same process as before. Second option would be to see if I’m a candidate for the da Vinci Surgical System, which is a robotic surgery. It would be way less invasive and less healing time. He said they only do it at MD Anderson in Houston and UAB in Birmingham. After going over the options with him, he told us to talk it over on our way home, which is a 3½ hour drive. He was pretty insistent that we call his office with our decision when we got back home. After talking, we decided to let him arrange for a consultation at MD Anderson. I called his office, and we will wait to hear back from him. Living With Cancer remains a part of life for now.

My sweet, amazing daughter is coming to terms with this phrase, too. (You can read about her journey here.) Hearing those words cancer, malignant, carcinoma—and they apply to you—is terribly difficult. Not to mention the toll it takes on your family as they come to the reality that they too are a part of your journey. I could say she never dreamed to be on this road she’s walking. However, I think God saw fit to allow her to anticipate that this would some day be her journey. That, in itself, is amazing!

Last week I was reading a passage in a devotional book by John Piper,
Life As a Vapor. The passage was based on 2 Chronicles 30:1-12. He noted that in the verses the obedience of the people was based on a condition they must meet. Also, the obedience was a work of God that He produced in their hearts. He enabled them to meet the condition which would result in obedience. Piper said the Bible teaches two things: Many of the blessings of God are conditional upon our response of faith AND God Himself ultimately enables that response of faith and obedience.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21;
“The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.” Isaiah 14:24;
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28;
“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Philippians 2:13
(Verses added by me.)

Living With Cancer. It is not within ourselves to muster up the faith it takes to live that life day by day. We do not have the will to do it. God said in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. As much as we think we can plan our life, God is the One who does the planning. Does it sound like cancer is a way to prosper me and not harm me? God says so. He made me in the first place. He chose for me to survive being born 2 months prematurely over 58 years ago…and he chose for cancer to be a part of my life…for His purposes. Part of those plans is to give me hope and a future. My hope is in Him, and He is ever faithful. A future, yes, I have a future. My future is not here. My life on this earth is limited, cancer or not. My future rests in spending eternity with Him one day. That future is based on the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ that is summed up in this simple verse, John 3:16. Also, this one where my pastor preached from Sunday: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24.

And this. I recently heard a message from my daughter’s pastor who is also dealing with cancer. He said, “Cancer will never have the last word in my life. God will.”