Wednesday morning was Kevin’s one week follow-up with our surgical oncologist. It was a bit of a rough morning getting out of the house. Our friend T had come over to babysit, and I think with everything that had been going on the past few weeks, Jude had just had it with sitters. He was really losing and usually I just leave quickly, knowing he gets over it more quickly that way. But his crying was just breaking my heart, and I was aching to be spending the morning playing with him instead of us headed to yet another doctor’s appointment. The extra time spent with him meant we were late getting out the door. It started raining pretty heavily once we got on the road, and that slowed us down even more. Then I took a couple of wrong turns because I forgot we were going to Emory’s main campus instead of the Midtown location. We were going to be about 10 minutes late by the time we got parked and up to the doctor’s office. I don’t know what it is, but Kevin and I really hate to be late for things. Not that we’re always on time or anything. In fact, with two kids 18 months apart, we’re late a lot. But for some people that’s no big deal. We really hate it and it stresses us out. Now if we were being rational, we knew that the doctor wasn’t going to just up and not see Kevin because we were 15 minutes or so late, but still, we somehow felt the need to be these model patients. I know, it makes no sense.
Anyway, we decided to valet park, but even that was backed up because of the rain, so I dropped him off, and got in line for the valet, telling him I’d meet him upstairs. I got the car off to the valet and headed inside.
Now here’s where I need to back up and tell you that I’d spent most of the weekend trying to live life like normal people, but also feeling a deep sense of despair and loss of hope. The numbers just seemed too bad. It seemed like everytime we went to a doctor, had a treatment, something, we got more bad news. I’d just started to come to the realization that Kevin might die from all of this. The very real realization. I couldn’t just write it off to me being dramatic or over-reacting anymore. I was feeling hopeless. Late Tuesday night, I was trying to pray, and I got distracted as usual (I think God must get very entertained when I try to pray to Him, because I’m truly all over the place). Anyway, I was thinking about feeling hopeless and then I was thinking about how we have a fake chalkboard fireplace with a mantel now, and that I needed something to hang our stockings off of. I have never been one who was into all the inspirational sayings turned into art on people’s walls. Until now. So yeah, I’m trying to pray, thinking about stockings and stocking holders, and feeling hopeless. And then it comes to me that our family is complete and they make those stocking holders with one letter at a time for each hook. The word HOPE has four letters and wouldn’t that be a good thing to have staring me in the face this holiday season. I call my sister and ask her if she could find it for me.
Back to Wednesday morning. I get a text from my sister saying she’s found and ordered them and I tell Kevin about it. He tells me that in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for hope is an indication of certainty.
“Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Though archaic today in modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident expectation. – bible.org article on hope
I thought that that was very encouraging, and was “hoping” I could find that kind of hope in this situation. I was geared up for more bad news, since that’s the way it’s gone every time we’ve had an appointment, surgery, etc.
So, back to dropping Kevin off, doing the valet parking, and then heading into the Winship Cancer Center. I decided to take the stairs, thinking it might be quicker than waiting for the elevator. I get to the landing between the two floors, and literally on the floor, I see this
Then I get to the next floor and I see this
And somehow I knew. There it was. My hope.
I actually beat Kevin upstairs, since he’d taken the elevator. I took his hand and we marched in together to hear the next set of bad news.
The news was worse than it had been on Thursday, but somehow didn’t feel as bad. Melanoma had spread to three lymph nodes total now… two micrometastatic and one macrometastatic. One just means it’s travelled but is visible only under a microscope and the other means its travelled but visible to the human eye. They removed those nodes about about 15 others, including something called the parotid gland. The fact that there is cancer in three lymph nodes is not good. In fact, it greatly affects the prognosis. But somehow, we have HOPE.
The course of treatment will remain the same… localized radiation for 6 weeks starting in January, then 4 weeks off to recover, then 4-5 weeks of intensive interferon alpha treatment (kind of like chemotherapy). Then we’ll have a year of thrice weekly shots that I’ll give him at home to continue the interferon treatment. BUT, we aren’t trying to kill cancer colonies in the body. We aren’t trying to shrink tumors. All we’re trying to do right now is to “clean up whatever’s left” after surgery. There may or may not be rogue cancer cells roaming his body. These treatments are intended to search and destroy. It will be hard. It sounds like it will be very very hard. But as our family verse reminds us, “We watch in HOPE for the the Lord. Our God WILL hear us.”
We don’t exactly know how bad the treatments will be. We know how bad they might be. Or not. But we know we’re going to fight. Together. With the body of Christ lifting us up, and the HOPE that the Lord provides, “We wait in HOPE for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.”