Thursday, February 25, 2016

Will I reach dry land?

As a young girl I loved to play in the river that wound peacefully through our little mountain town. Sometimes we'd make it a big event, gathering all our inner-tubes and friends to charge into the freezing waters without hesitation.  Other times we'd spontaneously pull the car over, pile our socks and shoes on the river bank and wade in feeling every rock and current against our bare feet and legs. Once I got more used to the cold water I loved to prove I could wade across the deeper and faster currants without being swept away.  As the water became more rapid in places I'd make my stance wider and wider leaning into the rapids to fight back against the pressure of being knocked down. Sometimes the rapids would knock down the people right beside me and I'd focus more intently and take more deliberate steps navigating my way across.  One steady, careful step at a time. How rewarding it felt to make it safely across to dry land.

Today I can picture myself in this place. I'm standing in the middle of a strong and fast river currant while the bone chilling water laps repeated pressure against my legs and feet.  The continual force overtakes other waders and I feel afraid as they're knocked down and swept away on all sides of me.  I desperately work to plant my feet more firmly, widen my stance to be stronger, raise my arms up to have more height and balance against the rapid current. I am working so hard I can't even look toward the dry land.

Yesterday, my scans showed that not only are the same 2 cancer spots growing, but 6 more spots are growing now as well.  As hard as this is, it still leaves us in the same place of searching for a clinical trial. This morning my local doctor confirmed that I do qualify to be part of the local Kras gene mutation trial, but now it doesn't begin until May. I have two other Immunotherapy trials that I will be tested for.  They require a lot of medical records, cancer tissue samples, blood work and a physical.  The trials are located in Maryland and can take 4 weeks to gather, review and approve/disprove. So it means an April or May start date again.  However, if I begin a chemotherapy regiment to help keep the cancer from growing or spreading it will mean that I cannot immediately begin a trial that may come up earlier because there is a 4 week "no treatment" period prior to the trial start date.  Some trials are high risk, high reward.  Some are low risk, low reward.  What is the right trial for me right now?

The water is rising.  The fear of falling is real. This continual force has unfairly swept others away. I am reminded that the constant pressure of this bone chilling currant requires a wider stance. I ask others to stand strong next to me and help lean into the constant pressure. Our feet must be firmly planted in God's word and His promises.  We shall lift our hands up high in prayer to keep our balance. We will focus intently, taking deliberate careful steps toward dry ground.

I don't know if I'll ever make it across, but I am certain I will not stop trying.

"If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.  But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." Ecc. 4:10,12

"You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip." Psalm 18:36

"Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!" Psalm 27:14

"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." Col. 1:9

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Will My Belief Waver in Today's Circumstances?

I don't have a lot of time to be writing this morning, but I feel this encouraging message so deeply in my heart, that I must share while it's so relevant to this day.

We've been studying the story of Joseph at church the last few weeks.  Joseph had an amazing story with peaks and valleys that caused hurt, fear, frustration, honor, reward and privilege. Joseph was painfully betrayed and forgotten by family and friends. He lost many years during the prime of his life bound in slavery and prison.  After being sold into slavery as a child, then being falsely accused and thrown into prison, Joseph, at age 30, is finally brought out of the pit and made Governor of Egypt, reunited with his Father, only to watch him die and mourn his death for months. In his last words Joseph's father described him as an unprotected baby donkey that was attacked by archers, who shot at him and harassed him repeatedly. Yet, his arms remained strong because he was strengthened by God. After all that Joseph had been through his father still referred to him as a "prince among his brothers".

Joseph was chosen by God to have the gift of interpreting dreams, being a man of immense character, fully competent to excel wherever God placed him.  God gave Joseph many gifts that were only unwrapped in the pit of pain and suffering.

In a recent Andy Stanley podcast he referred to Joseph as unwavering in his belief, even during long-lasting terrible circumstances.

I'm challenged to ask myself, and you, these questions.

Am I unwavering in my I letting my circumstances change my belief?

Have I been able to unwrap God-given gifts because of my pain and suffering?

How has my suffering and any newly opened gifts helped myself or others to fend off "circumstantial-specific belief?"

Will I step forward today unwavering in my belief that Jesus is the all-knowing, all-powerful, loving author of my story?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

We're In It To Win It

I met this sweet woman in 2011 after my first round of treatment! I thought my cancer was past history at the time and attended a brunch with a group who called themselves the cancer posse. Little did I know the amazing friends I'd still have today because of that 3 hour brunch! Lesley and I both spent our summer and Fall of 2015 enduring chemo and all the side effects of that, including going bald! Today she sat with me as I waited to do my scans and then we enjoyed an entire pot of tea and a wonderful girlie lunch! Our battles are different, yet so much alike. We're "in it to win it" for better or worse! We love our husbands, we ache for our children, we pray for a cure! And look at all that same-colored hair blowing in the wind! 

Thank you for letting me talk and for sharing your heart with me today Lesley! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Scans tomorrow

MDA does not have a clinical trial for medication/chemotherapy or Immunotherapy at this time. It's hard to believe an institution of that size has nothing new to offer me. Cancer Centers of America came back and said they don't accept my BCBS insurance. However, after hours and hours of scouring online for clinical trials I've contacted 17 different trial managers this week. I've also located a group that will help me search for more trials and I have a couple contacts that have requested more information for further processing. I am trusting that God is directing each step, even though the closed doors feel hard to accept. I had no idea how much work it would be to locate a clinical trial for myself! It's complicated if you have a more common cancer, let alone a rare type like I do. 

Thursday I am having a scan of my chest done locally at the request of my MDA oncologist. He wants to measure growth rate since my January 12 scans. 

I will have a local appointment on Wednesday, 2/24, to get scan results, discuss clinical trial findings or chemo options based on the scan results and my check up. 

This situation feels a bit surreal and we certainly appreciate all your prayers and support for all things to work together for our the nick of time! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Waiting on a Woman is Easy!

People say waiting on a woman is difficult, but try waiting on a doctor!
I've become very skilled in the process of waiting.

Finally get an appointment....then wait and wait for the date to arrive.

Hurry up to the appointment.....then sit and wait while they are only "30 minutes to 1 hour" behind.

Get all those follow up tests and scans done.....then wait for the doctor to review them.

Right now....I wait by the phone. Wait for a clinical trial to become available. Wait for a status update on immunotherapy. Wait to learn if another institution will see me.

Good thing my doctor is a man or I'd be in double trouble, right?!?

Seriously though, this seems to be taking forever.  I did get a call last Wednesday night from my doctor in Houston.  He said that there are currently no clinical trials available to me in the next 3-4 months and there is nothing on the Horizon at this point either. That April appointment they offered will be a good time to review the trial options again, I guess.

In the mean time, my doctor is following up on one more option for Immunotherapy and I'm hoping to hear back from him tonight or tomorrow. If Immunotherapy isn't an option my local doctor, my Houston doctor and I will have a consultation about next steps.  The local KRAS trail sounds promising, but it may not begin for another 9-10 weeks.  Again, I wait to hear a firm start date from the doctor.

Currently, I'm looking for clinical trials elsewhere.  With this being such a rare gyn cancer and it being metastatic it is rather difficult to know which trials I really qualify for, but we pray God will lead us to the right thing at the right time. 

If something doesn't show up by the  end of the month, I will most likely have to begin a new regimen of chemotherapy with the hopes to hold off any new growth and potentially shrink the cancer while we "wait" for a clinical trial to open up. 

I'm learning the timing for all of these things is pretty important because there is a 30 day wash out period before a clinical trial.  This means all other treatment stops for 30 days to make sure my system is clean to begin the trial. 

I know that God's timing has always proven perfect.
I know that God sees the road ahead and his plan for me is perfect.
I know that I don't spend one minute "waiting" alone. The way Jesus waits with me is perfect.
I know that through this God is still perfecting me.

God's way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. Psalms 18:30

God is my strong fortress, and he makes my way perfect. 2 Samuel 22:33

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:20b

Jehovah will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, endureth for ever; Forsake not the works of thine own hands. Psalms 138:8