Every time I visit the oncologist they draw blood and do a quick lab report checking all kinds of numbers. I would be deceiving you if I told you I understood all the numbers. Once the report is back the doctor(s) come in to review what they have found. The goal is for “everything to be within range”. They make changes to my treatment schedule, medications and general plan all based upon the numbers.
If my white blood cell count is low…I will be in for a shot to help boost that number. Another number comes in low and I am reminded to stay hydrated and am most likely in for a bag of saline to help get me back to where I should be. On it goes…
I have learned to have the doctors and nurses stop each time they come in and explain all those numbers. Their patience is amazing. They always stop and take the time to walk through everything like it was the first time and do not seem annoyed that I am struggling to understand what is “within the normal range” for all the tests that are run.
On Friday we learned about a new number. I was hesitant to share it with you all. Yet, for all of you who are praying it is encouraging and so I finally decided to pass on what my doctor shared. There is a blood test they use to check for colon cancer. If you are in the normal range (cancer free) your number would be under 5, when I first started treatment my number was over 124. Three chemo treatments in and my number has dropped to 37.4! As my oncologist shared that information he seemed puzzled. He said, “At this point in your treatment I would normally hope for a 25% drop in this number…your number has dropped close to 75%.” He said it was a good sign that the chemotherapy was doing something, that things were changing and that we should continue treatment.
There is still a long road ahead. There is a lot that has to be done and many more treatments to go through but it was encouraging to see numbers moving in a positive direction. After a few more rounds of chemotherapy I will have a scan of my liver to see if there is any improvement there. My doctor seems encouraged…so I am cautiously optimistic.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Please keep praying as we continue to walk this journey.
As I sit and think about what all this mean for me, Nancy and our family I am encouraged. I am thankful for all the prayers that are being offered on my behalf. It has been encouraging to hear from friends and ministry partners from over the past twenty years. As friends from high school, college, and seminary have reached out it has been a reminder that while we have moved a lot we have built great relationships everywhere we have been. I can’t thank you enough for your support and encouragement.
In the midst of all of this there is one piece I cannot shake. In my heart I want to cry out and thank God for what appears to be the start of healing at work in my body. The final outcome has yet to be determined…yet what we are seeing so far is positive. At the same time I am struck by the reality that there are many who have prayed just as hard whose “numbers” are NOT heading in the right direction. What are we to do with that? Why is it that some prayers appear to be “answered” in the way we desire and others are not? I have no answer for that.
What I do know is that faith stands strong in the midst of the journey no matter what direction the numbers are going. If the numbers are going in the “right direction” God is in control and is walking with us as we travel the journey. If the numbers are going in the “wrong direction” God is in control and the Spirit goes before, behind, and beside us as we travel the journey.
I believe in the power of prayer. I am a person of prayer. I have called people to prayer my entire ministry. Yet I struggle when people claim, “their prayers have been answered (read they got what they wanted) because of their faithfulness in prayer.” I am reminded of King David, “a man after God’s own heart” who prayed fervently for his son’s life to be sparred. In the end his son did not survive. I also think of Jesus’ time in Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed to Abba Father pleading that if there was some other way to accomplish the salvation of humanity that he could avoid the suffering of the cross. When morning came he was betrayed and his journey toward the cross began. I believe his prayers were heard. I believe his prayers were answered as God gave him strength to carry the burden of our sin and the weight of the cross to Calvary. If Jesus’ prayers were not answered in the manner in which he desired it should not surprise us that there will be times when God’s will is beyond our understanding and our prayers appear to go unanswered (read we do not get what we ask for).
I am praying for a miracle. I believe that God is capable and that if willing this Cancer will be removed from my body. I also believe that He is faithful in all circumstances, “even if my numbers start heading in the wrong direction.” We need to learn to pray not for OUR will but THY will be done in all circumstances, even those that are most personal to us.
Thank you for your prayers. They mean a lot and I appreciate your faithfulness in lifting me up as I walk this journey.