So for the past 3 months, Robin has been going to chemotherapy every other week. We figured out the cycle of “chemo” life and the week after chemo is crap. It’s major fatigue, major mouth sores, major stomach being tied up in a huge knot and teetering on the brink of nausea. That stuff is bad enough, but it is also the catalyst for impatience, anger, and depression. Watching someone you love suffer tends to put a huge damper on your patience. It also inspires a feeling of helplessness. This isn’t like the flu, or a cold, where you feel miserable for a few days, but then recover. This is the reality that you are going to feel like crap for the next year or more, guaranteed. Our son (he’s 7) was riding to the store with Robin yesterday and he was excited about getting something from the store (usually a small Lego Star Wars kit). He took his mom’s hand and said, “Mom, I don’t want any toys for Christmas this year, I just want you to be alive.” Robin and I were talking the other day and she started crying because she noticed her right arm is very similar to her left and she’s worried that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on her other side now. I haven’t been sleeping well at all (2 to 3 hours a night) because this all weighs heavy on my heart. People ask all the time, “How are you doing” and the typical response is “we’re good!”. Honestly, I don’t tell them the truth because I don’t want to lose it and start sobbing right there in front of them. This is where we are at; this is where I’M at.
I was talking to a friend this morning and likened it to being in a sailboat on the ocean in a dead calm. I KNOW the wind is there, but it seems it’s just not blowing right now and I’m just floating. I’m ready for the wind to blow again. Then my friend says, “But Andrew, you’re floating!”. He’s right (God) I’m not sinking; WE’RE not sinking. This is the time to prepare FOR the wind to come. Thank you Lord for your Love, your Life. Bring on the wind!!
” 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
So the last two weeks have been much like me riding my Kawasaki, everything is pretty much a blur. Between surgery, PET scans, MRI’s, etc. We have been running non-stop between home, school, and hospital. That was just the preface for things to come.
We are sitting in the hospital waiting on the chemo drugs to come up from pharmacy and we have several ladies from church here just chatting away. What a blessing to have them here to distract Robin. She was quite nervous driving to the hospital this morning. This is the first of 4 rounds of Adriamycin and cyclophosphamide, given every two weeks. Then comes the Taxol which will be given every week, along with Carboplatin given every 3 weeks for another 12 weeks. To complicate matters, this is accompanied by a lab work done the day before chemo, and a shot to stimulate the bone marrow the day after every chemo. So the next 20 weeks are going to be um, interesting.
I can tell you just by my limited experience, no one battles with cancer, it is a full on war! The chemo, the surgery, the radiation, the nausea medicine, the steroids, the recovery, the blood work, these are the battles within the war. God doesn’t promise us that we won’t have to fight, but He DOES protect us DURING the fight. We have the comfort of knowing that whatever happens on this ball of dirt is not the end, it is merely the beginning. It is merely a “training” class to teach us how to depend on God for our existence.
We met Robin’s surgeon this morning. She is very sweet, very competent, and very caring. I couldn’t have hand picked her any better. We got a first glimpse of what life is going to look like for the next 6 – 9 months: Tomorrow morning at 0630, MRI / blood work / Chest x-ray. Monday morning at 0745, PET CT scan / lab work / consult with the medical oncoologist to discuss the chemotherapy. Tuesday at 0600, at the hospital to prep for surgery for port insertion. Friday, chemo. Yep, chemo starts next week.
Robin is doing great holding together really well. While the surgeon was talking to us, she mentioned that we were amazingly composed in light of the conversation and that’s when Robin shared that the reason for the composure is our faith in Christ. Our surgeon is a believer.To
After the barrage of appointment information, a bazillion phone calls, we are going to employ a very organized friend to help us with scheduling. Not only doctors appointments, but also people who want to help by fixing a meal, visiting, etc.
We told Caleb this afternoon and he took it really well. I am sure he doesn’t realize the brevity of the situation. Robin was quite emotional today, but I know its because her emotions haven’t caught up to her faith yet.
Emotions are running high, patience is running thin, and all of us are well, just running. Robin is up and out the door at 0600 in the morning and I will be getting Caleb up and off to school, then driving down to meet Robin. I don’t think I’m going to finish the laundry tonight…
I call it day 1 because it is the day the pathology report came back. It is the day that a doctor and a nurse told us that we were embarking on a journey of pain, uncertainty, and discomfort. This is day 1 of a fight for life.
Two weeks ago, Robin came home and told me about her amazing trip to the GREAT BANQUET in Kentucky with Paula and Vivian. She told me about meeting God and giving up her fear of failure. She also told me about waking up in the middle of the night and finding a lump in her breast. She told me other things, but honestly, I don’t remember anything after that. Fast forward a week to her doctor’s visit with an OBGYN doctor that had been recommended to her. After the initial exam, he scheduled her for a mammogram Friday morning at 0730. I was at home after taking Caleb to school and she called me at 0945. I asked her how it went and all she could tell me was to clear my schedule for the rest of the day. They had scheduled her immediately for a biopsy of the 3 masses in her chest and the lymph nodes under her arm.
Robin has breast cancer and it has spread into her lymph nodes. They called it Invasive ductal carcinoma to be exact. They tested for Estrogen and Progesterone receptors, but the tests came back negative. I was thinking, “Finally, some GOOD news.” but they then explained that it was not good news. That because she tested negative, they could not use medicine designed to fight that type of cancer. Our immediate and only recourse is surgery to remove the breast and lymph nodes, and chemotherapy to contain the cancer. “Will she lose her hair?” I asked. The doctor replied with a “Yes”. The chemotherapy is designed to kill any rapid growth cells, to include intestinal cells, hair cells, bone cells, and hopefully the cancer cells as well. I decided immediately that when the time comes, Caleb and I will have an appointment at Sports Clips; We will all be bald together!
I KNOW God is in control. I KNOW God is walking with us through this. We got a card from friends with a check in it for $230.00 last month and had no idea what it was for. The couple didn’t either, they just said God told them to give it to us. The trip to Kentucky cost Robin EXACTLY $230.00. God paid for the trip, He woke Robin up in the middle of the night to check herself, He has provided amazing friends to surround us and walk through this with us. Am I still worried? yes. My friend so aptly put it, This is surely the valley of “Suck”.
Tomorrow morning is the appointment with the surgeon and specialist. I feel like Robin is being forced to go on a one way mission into enemy territory and I can’t go with her, I can’t protect her, I can’t be her bodyguard. But I can pray.