Good Shepherd, our lovely church was the last stop we made before heading home Monday night. It was another glorious sunset and it left me with such peace in my heart.
Earlier I had taken a few pics of something else that spoke to me. My hydrangea plant has been barren all spring and summer. It had so many blooms last year, and I longed to have them again this summer. It had started to green up early, filling me with hope, and then we plunged into below freezing temps a few days, late this spring. It seemed the flowers were not going to bloom this year at all. But we never stopped watering the plant somehow, nurturing it, loving it, while we waited.
Until one day late in August, out of the blue, I stooped down as I watered, and look what I saw? One single blossoming flower- in a lovely purplish bluish hue.
Its fitting for the kind of summer I've had. These minuscule moments of joy, hidden in a landscape of hard and heavy. But the light seems to always find a way to shine through, doesn't it?
Dr. Panwalkar strode into the exam room yesterday morning right on time. But stopped right at the door and...
maybe, for one of the first times I've seen in a long time...
He looked right into my eyes, and he was beaming.
He shook hands heartily with Rick, then with me, smiling as he greeted us pleasantly, and sat right down.
He fired up the computer, and we sat waiting for the images of the scans to load.
"Oh come on..." he said impatiently.
For whatever reason, I was really calm.
Slowly the images began to load.
PET scan first. He orients me to the direction, and puts the oldest and newest side by side.
He syncs them together, so that slice by slice, we can see the differences.
And let me just say, friends, oh my! They were SO different!!
The old one, glowed yellow. That disgusting, gut wrenching, glowing cancer activity that seemed to inhabit every slice we worked our way through.
But that isn't where we focused...
my eyes were glued to the spots, not even showing up on the other side.
Smallish splashes, mere hints of yellow, here and there.
But nothing in comparison to what it had been!
From my lungs, to my uterus, my bowels, my colon, my pelvis, etc., minimal signs of disease.
Then we looked at the CT scan in black and white where its easier to see the cancer spots in white. Side by side, we watched as some spots on one scan would completely not show on the other- some were gone! Others, were definitely smaller.
But we still had one scan to go- my brain MRI.
Slowly they loaded, side by side- old and new.
I had a rather hard time with the scan on Tuesday. They couldn't find a vein in my arm, to inject the contrast dye. I quit counting the pokes, at 7 or 8. Two techs, and no sweet spot on the only arm they can use. Its so covered in black and blues spots... but I'd do it all over again... because...
For whatever reason... my two brain spots?
Even though, chemo is not supposed to cross the blood-brain barrier?
Somehow, it must have!
Dr. Panwalkar said, sometimes chemos do cross the barrier, but its such a small percentage that they don't taut chemo as a good treatment option, especially when radiation has such a high rate of success.
I'm smiling and nodding, and really, I'm thinking... it isn't just the chemo or the radiation- I think
it's prayer that gets through. It's prayer that passes muster.
I think of my prayer list, that I gripped all the way through my MRI scan. Over and over I prayed for all those who asked. And for those who didn't? I prayed gratitude for all you've done for me. Over and over again.
So Dr. Panwalkar suggests we simply keep going on with the 3 chemo drugs- but he will somewhat reduce the Taxotere.
With the laundry list of symptoms I have in my hands, knowing I will have to keep enduring all of them, is overwhelming. Plus knowing, that living with metastatic disease, I am not likely to ever go into remission. But knocking the cancer back, squelching its ability to grow for awhile, is truly a God given gift- more time.
Plain and simple- it's working. Amen!
And so Dr. Panwalkar asks, "Any other questions for me?"
And I smile big.
"Could I give you a hug?"
And he is quickly standing, as I rise up to meet him, and he hearty laughs while saying "of course," as his arms encircle me all the way around. He hugs me tight, and I manage to whisper, "I'm so grateful for all you do for me, Dr. Panwalkar. Thank you." And he answers back, "you're welcome."
We slip out the door, and he ushers me into the waiting room chairs, but like always, he rubs my back as he then turns to saunter off into the depths of the infusion center.
“It is in the dark that God is passing by. The bridge and our lives shake not because God has abandoned, but the exact opposite: God is passing by. God is in the tremors. Dark is the holiest ground, the glory passing by. In the blackest, God is closest, at work, forging His perfect and right will. Though it is black and we can't see and our world seems to be free-falling and we feel utterly alone, Christ is most present to us...”
― Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are