Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Land of the "What-Ifs" -- What We Can Control, We Do

Each chemotherapy treatment seems to have a cumulative effect. Steve's lows get lower, his energy drains more completely, and his overall state of well-being erodes exponentially along with his strength. Although the chemo cycle is much more predictable, it doesn't make it any easier. At one point I heard Steve say that if the lymphoma returned, he wasn't sure he could go through more chemo. Now I knew this wasn't true...he would do whatever he had to do to try to beat this cancer, but there was element of truth that could be detected in his voice. Chemotherapy sucks. It drains the life-blood right out of you, knocks you to the ground and continues to beat you when you are down. He now has 5 cycles down and only one more to go. We are nearly finished with phase one of his treatment.

Here's Steve doing his best to "sleep through" the chemo.
The headphones, ear plugs, and eye covers help him tune out to the seven hours of a slow drip.

Many people have told me they are amazed at how positive I have been throughout this whole ordeal. For the most part, work has been a great distraction. Since I work in two schools, the pace of my day is so fast, I rarely have time to think about anything but work. My faith, belief, and hope in our God, our Creator. and our great Healer causes me to go into autopilot mode. God has his hands on the controls and he is the one helping me stay on course.

But I am not going to lie...there are times when my imagination gets the best of me. When I allow my mind to think of a day when I will have to say good-bye to my best friend, husband, and lover. It only takes about a nano-second for my throat to tighten up, the tears to well-up and the liquid pain begin to roll down my cheeks. Steve will have his last regular dose of chemotherapy next Friday. Because of the risk of getting Lymphodema, he will not undergo radiation therapy. What if the six cycles of chemo didn't do the trick? What if it comes back or if it did not kill it all? What then? The what-ifs can become overwhelming. They are painful thoughts that I simply cannot bear to entertain. I do my best to not let my mind dwell on these thoughts...but I am not going to lie, they are real and they do frequent my mind more than they should.

We cannot control what will happen next. Like I said, our hope rest in Christ alone. We pray for nothing more than for a complete cure for Steve. Right now, we have very little that we can control. But what we can control. we do.

We met with a nutritionist who works exclusively with cancer patients. She told us about the Mediterranean diet -- a diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables. She told us how the more colorful and strong smelling the fruit or vegetable, the more cancer-fighting protection they provide. Some fruits and vegetables contain phylotoxins; they are able to even reduce the size of tumors present in your body. They boost your body's immune system and help fight cancer at the core. Like I said, we don't have any control over the unseen enemy that once invaded Steve's body, but we do have control over what we choose to put in our bodies. The food we eat has the ability to give us life or even take it away. We are working to embrace a plant-based diet, eliminate processed foods, and eat as many organic foods as possible. Making healthy choices in our diet helps me feel as if I am helping Steve in his fight against this cancer.

A few weeks after Steve's last Chemo, we will meet with Dr. Liao to go over our next steps. We are arranging a CT-Scan with contrast to happen a couple weeks after the chemo. Although Dr. Liao usually orders the scans from a local imaging company, I am not comfortable with a general lab being the ones to tell us whether or not Steve has any more cancer in his body. We have decided that Steve and I will travel to Seattle and get his scans done at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. They were the ones who accurately identified Steve's lymphoma -- they are the simply the best in the state. If anyone is going to ascertain whether the chemo was effective, it should be them.

Steve asked Dr. Liao what would happen if they found more tumors in his body. The answer was not what he wanted to hear. If the chemo did not kill all of the cancer, he would have to go through another six months of chemo-- but this time it will be even more lethal than the first. Instead of having chemo every three weeks, he will have it weekly. He then most likely undergo a stem cell transplantation at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. Dr. Liao said that in this scenario, he probably wouldn't be able to work. Again, entertaining the "what-ifs" is dangerous. We choose life and not death -- we choose hope and not despair.  We choose faith over statistics; we choose to believe that our God is bigger than the "what-ifs;" Nothing is impossible...nothing.

Now is the time to increase our prayers and rally the warriors. We ask each and everyone of you who believes in God, to use what measure of faith you have to pray a complete and total healing for Steve. Pray that each and every cancerous cell will be eliminated from his body. Pray that he will be strong for his last chemotherapy. Pray that the scans will reveal a body free from tumors and cancer.

We know that the road ahead of us is still long and possibly treacherous, but our fate is in God's loving hands, in Him we place our trust. We will not live in the land of the "what-ifs," instead we will take possession of the land of faith, hope, and belief.

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