My husband and I came back from a wonderful week away taking in the Word Award Gala evening in Hamilton on June 14, as well as visiting family in Ottawa. Although I did not win in the categories I was shortlisted in, I thoroughly enjoyed attending the Gala, just happy to be amongst such a wonderful group of writers. Truly, I was made to feel like a star!
The highlight of the trip was a beautiful day spent exploring Niagara-on-the-Lake, and having a quiet lunch with my sweetie. It wasn’t the 40th Anniversary Trip we had originally planned, but just being away together making memories was wonderful! I was so grateful to my family doctor for giving his permission for me to travel even though I was still recovering from my surgery.
So it was there and back again. New memories made, refreshed to return back home…to reality…
I met with my surgical oncologist yesterday to go over the latest pathology reports in depth. I am even more grateful for my time away after the consultation yesterday because it looks like I won’t be taking any trips for a while. I start chemotherapy on Monday.
I thought I had adequately prepared myself for this part of the battle. I had hoped, of course, that surgery was all that was needed, and I had convinced myself that I could avoid chemo because the surgery had removed the problematic organs. I had tried to decipher some of the medical jargon on an early pathology report I was given, but it was obvious I had totally misunderstood what I read in it and my amateurish internet research only exacerbated my misunderstanding. (Note to self: don’t use Google to self-diagnose.)
So, with an updated pathology report in her hand yesterday, when my oncologist spoke the words, their impact hit me like a sledgehammer to my gut. “Endometrial cancer – Stage 3A.” What I had mistakingly thought was early stage Ovarian Cancer was in fact Uterine Cancer. The cancer had started in the uterus and spread into the ovaries with some indication it had invaded the lymphatic system as well. Her recommendation: six rounds of chemotherapy followed by radiation.
I could see the news hit my sweet husband just as hard as it hit me. I had faced four rounds of chemo in 2001 with my breast cancer diagnosis. I knew what lay ahead of me, but I knew what lay ahead for my husband too. He practically had to rope and tie me to get me to my final treatment. I had been so sick I wasn’t sure I could face the last round. To think I would have to face six rounds of chemo this go-round caught me totally off-guard. It was all I could do to hold myself together and not crumple to the floor in despair.
“This might be a dumb question,” I blurted almost incoherently to my oncologist, “but if you had your druthers, which would you prefer to have – ovarian or uterine cancer?” She did not hesitate, “Uterine, hands down.” It was small comfort. I wondered if the doctor would have responded differently had I been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Was that her standard response to say one cancer was “better” than another one in terms of survival? I suppose when you have any kind of cancer diagnosis you will grasp at anything that gives you some kind of encouragement for the battle ahead. She continued, “You can beat this. If we treat this aggressively, your prognosis is good. The goal is for you never to have it (cancer) come back again.”
That’s what my oncologist had said nineteen years ago…and yet, here I was facing cancer again.
I knew I couldn’t dwell on that. I turned to my husband and with more bravado than I felt said, “Okay, let’s get this done!”
The next few hours were filled with meeting with doctors and nurses to go over the “chemo cocktail” they were planning to pump into my body, and to pick up the other drugs I would need to cope with the side effects of chemo. I had hoped they would tell me that things had much improved with chemotherapy from what I had experienced nineteen years earlier. No such luck. As they listed each side effect, I could not stop the flow of unpleasant memories flooding back to me.
There and back again. History repeating itself.
A massive pity party was bubbling up threatening to overwhelm me. Why was God allowing this to happen to me again? I had been so positive before surgery, and had recovered so “remarkably well” according to the doctors. I knew God had answered prayer and His activity had been so evident around me before, during, and after surgery. Why was I freaking out now? Surely I had to believe that God was in as much control of this situation as He had been over the past few months, right? He had always been faithful in every circumstance I faced throughout my life! Why was I now questioning God’s goodness at this time? I remembered the scripture I had read during my devotions that morning:
“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your unfailing love and your faithfulness, for you have so exalted your solemn decree that it surpasses your fame. When I called, you answered me; you greatly emboldened me. May all the kings of the earth praise you, Lord, when they hear what you have decreed. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great. Though the Lord is exalted, he looks kindly on the lowly; though lofty, he sees them from afar. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life. You stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes; with your right hand you save me. The Lord will vindicate me; your love, Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.” Psalm 138: 1-8
Though I walk in the midst of trouble…
His love endures forever…
God will not abandon me!
I ask for your prayers, dear readers, as I start chemo next week. I know it will be a tough journey but when I struggle in my weakness I will be strengthened by your prayers! God is good!
There and back again!
I am currently reading a book entitled “Everything Happens For A Reason, and Other Lies I have Loved” by Kate Bowler. She is an associate professor at Duke Divinity School. She has stage 4 colon cancer. This book is about her journey with this disease. I thought you might find this worthwhile reading as you begin this next stage of treatment in your journey. I am keeping you in my prayers.
I’ve been following your journeys for some years and all your experiences have been very interesting and given so much food for thought. We’re so sorry that cancer invaded you again and we had really hoped the surgery would be the end of it. Although it must be very difficult having the next treatment, we hope and pray that it will be successful and you will finally be free from cancer and continue more happy journeys. Although it was a small oasis in the desert, your trip to the Gala was great and, there is no doubt, you are a shining star ! I’m from England but I spent time in Ottawa a long, long time ago and I loved the place and the people. Canada is a great country.
Some borrowed words of wisdom :
Rick Warren said :- “Hope is as essential to your life as air and water”
Alfred Lord Tennyson said :- “Cast all your cares on God; that anchor holds.”
Love, prayers and best wishes,
Dearest Lynn, Debra again from near Ottawa. I was raised in Hamilton. Small world. As I read your post I couldn’t help but ask God, “Why?” And at he same time, the overwhelming desire to praise God because I know that He is and will continue to be with you in this ‘journey’. They are odd companions, uncertainty and praise, but they’re only odd to a world that doesn’t know His immeasurable love and abiding Presence in all things. God bless you, you remain in my prayers.