If you've been following along you know that I began sharing about my cancer journey in November 2010 when I was originally diagnosed with he very rare Primary Vaginal Adenocarcinoma. With a huge amount of help from my doctors, my family, friends and even strangers I successfully navigated my way through multiple surgeries, chemo, external beam radiation and internal radiation (Interstitial Brachy Therapy). I gratefully completed this journey in late March 2011 and I was fairly certain this was the hardest path I would ever travel. In the same way that a hiker stops at the top of the mountain and looks back reflecting over what they just experienced, I too reflected over my experience and wished I had trained harder (memorized more Bible verses), trained longer (had my kids raised before diagnosis) and trained more often (prayed more often, read my bible daily, told people I appreciate them more). My lack of training for this particular trail didn't impact me, because my tour guide held my right hand tightly up and down the trails. "You will hear your Teacher's voice behind you. You will hear it whether you turn to the right or the left. It will say, 'Here is the path I want you to take, walk in it." Is. 30:21 Oh how I've been thankful for my Teacher's voice, for there is no better trail guide than Jesus!
Recovery from this journey took longer than I expected; and honestly I am still recovering in ways unseen. However, after a couple set backs (my abnormal pap and surgical biopsies/scrapes) I finally hung up my "finisher" medal and shared my celebratory pics in December on Facebook and in Christmas cards. I finally felt it.....believed it even......I was a cancer survivor. I willingly became part of this accomplished, amazingly strong group of people. A mighty success; a sad addition to my resume.
Early 2012 I began to feel more alive, more myself, much stronger; so you can imagine the shock when I learned early March that I had another abnormal pap. Just like last November it was an A-typical glandular cell which meant I had to go under anesthetic and have multiple biopsies and scrapes once again. My Gyn-Onc said her antennas were up, but she could not imagine it would turn out to be cancer already. Sadly, the during the out-patient surgery my doctor could feel a hard growth higher in the vaginal wall and the biopsies came back malignant. We were stunned, knocked off our feet, even paralyzed by this news. I couldn't help but ask God "WHY"?
Now two months later there are many signs that God is at work once again in my life, even in the midst of more bad news. Sometime soon I'll share the story of how we've gotten to our decision point, or even better, the proof that God is alive and real in the midst of suffering. For now, please pray over the next step in our journey with us.
Billy & I will be living in Houston, TX for the next month to pursue my "cure"! This was a long and hard decision and the journey getting here has felt steep. I've settled into the fact that there is a rugged and difficult hike ahead. I'm planning to proceed with the one and only option I've been given....a Total Pelvic Exoneration. The OU Cancer Institute only performs this surgery twice/year on average whereas MD Anderson performs it 12/year. My surgery will not be common, but my hope for a cure is felt by all cancer patients alike. Today's suffering is worth it, as our hope is a long lifetime of precious mundane moments
Join me in prayer over upcoming appointment days, great sleeps/steady hands/compassion for surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, counselors, family and friends.
*Wednesday, 5/30 - Meet with 3 surgeons, 2 counselors, blood work, physical exam, PET scan, CT scan
*Tuesday, 6/05 - All Day Surgery
This morning we studied Jonah in community church and we learned 4 good lessons from his story. I told the pastor afterwards I thought he was speaking directly to my row of weeping people.
Lesson #1 : God's will is not always the same as my will! (His is bigger and better. His will is not to make sure we are happy, but it is to make sure we are more like Him. - Jonah 1 & Romans 8:28-29a)
Lesson #2 : Being out of God's will is a dangerous place to be! (God will do what he must to bring you back to Him and His plan will prevail. Jonah 1:15-17) There will be thanksgiving when you are in His will. Jonah 2:9
Lesson #3 : When God steps in and interrupts your life He IS thinking about you! (When God's plan is fulfilled he will step in and help you. Jonah 4:10)
Lesson #4 : Be careful - Learn from God's interruptions. (We cannot only have faith and love God when life is good. Jonah 4)
Jonah's journey shows us that God is in control and he cares about every single step we take and all people we meet along the trail. I pray that as I put one foot in front of the other I will listen for my Teacher's voice helping me to be faithful and transparent so that those I encounter will see God's will in action.
In the words of a song from church this morning.....may I be sweetly broken; wholly surrendered.