Last week I met with a Radiation Oncologist. I was still shaky from the chemo thunder from round five, but I listened politely while she described the pros and cons of having radiation therapy after chemotherapy. “I know it’s a lot of information to take in,” she said.
“No kidding,” I thought. She said it was entirely up to me whether or not I wanted the treatment. I was already dreading my last round of chemotherapy on October 7th. I wasn’t sure I was ready to think about more treatment options, different side effects, and the time commitment involved: 25 sessions, 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, starting four weeks after my last chemo. I’d been through so much already. What were the benefits of having radiation too?
The doctor explained that with all “women cancers” (breast, uterine, ovarian in particular), there is a risk of reoccurrence or metastatic cancer spreading to other organs. The chemotherapy wipes out the cancer cells throughout the body but there is always a chance of lingering microscopic cancer cells at the “place of origin”, in my case, the abdominal cavity. Targeted radiation on that area would be another preemptive strike to combat reoccurrence in that area. “Of course there are no guarantees,” she hastened to inform me. I’ve learned Doctors never 100% commit to saying we are “cured”. Still the odds of living five more years past a cancer diagnosis increases with each treatment. Another statistic they use in calculating survival rates is in five year increments.
“Oh, and we can only consider radiation if your CT scan tomorrow comes back clear. We are 99.9 % sure it will…” Those were the best numbers I had heard since starting this journey. “…but if it doesn’t, you’ve got way more troubles than radiation can help.”
The thought of more surgeries, and more chemo nearly overwhelmed me. I already knew I would do anything and everything possible to fight for as long as I was able, but I knew the struggle would take a heavy toll on me and my family. I prayed silently that God would spare me of that, but whispered, “Not my will, but Yours.”
When I got home from the doctor’s appointment, I asked my family and prayer warriors to pray the CT scan would be clear. I had all but decided to go ahead with the radiation treatments if the scan was clear. That way, I reasoned, I could say I had done everything humanly, medically possible to combat this second go round with cancer. I was at peace with the decision.
CT scans are relatively easy diagnostic tests to undergo except if you have veins like mine that hide themselves, or “blow up” when IV’s are warranted. I told the technician he’d get a gold star if he didn’t have to poke me more than once with the needle. He smiled confidently, but minutes later looking dejected he said, “Guess you can keep the gold star.” I felt sorry for him. He called for backup and briefed the young nurse how he had to give up a gold star opportunity. She was unsympathetic. “I will find a vein!”
She did, first try.
I think I’ve shared before that waiting is not something I do well. All weekend it was on my mind. Would the scan come back clear or not? A friend sent me this video last week that I’ve looked at about a three or four dozen times since he posted it on my Facebook wall. The song is so poignant and has such an encouraging message. I am so aware and grateful for the countless many who are loving me through this journey with cancer, but none so faithfully as the Lord Himself!
The doctor called me today.
“The scan is clear.”
Rejoice with me today, gentle readers.
“O God, my heart is quiet and confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!” Psalm 57:7