This week Jason and I ended a thirteen day stay at the hospital. During our time there we encountered numerous doctors and nurses, techs, house keepers, pharmacists, charge nurses and support care staff. Each had their role and task in our care. They each used their skills and abilities to care for my needs. Doctors often consulted together; nurses dispensed medicines; techs cuffed me for blood pressure and kept the famous pink hospital jug filled with ice.
Now, no one role was more or less important in my care. Ultimately, each working together created a regimen that is managing my symptoms. For medical care I am truly grateful. Thirteen days was certainly tiring, frustrating and overwhelming, not to mention I missed my girlies. I have to remember though that we are blessed to be able to receive care and medicine as modes of healing and wellness. I am so excited to be home having had my medical needs meet. And I am grateful for the medical professionals who helped make that possible.
During my hospital stay I was also comforted by the sustaining verses found in Exodus 15:26 where God says, "I am the Lord who heals you," and Jeremiah 30:17, "I will give you back your health again and heal your wounds." With these powerful words from scripture I recognize that while medical professionals have been gifted with knowledge and abilities to bring healing and while they have offered me care, (healing, wellness,) they are not the ultimate Healer, The Great Physician, or The Curer of of all Disease.
In a recent conversation I with Dr. Assikis (our physician at Peachtree Oncology), his assistant, and Jason, I boldly asked the doctor a harsh question, one I thought I wanted to know the answer to. "For a person in my condition, for the stage of cancer that I am in, what is the life expectancy?" I anticipated lots of different numbers, 4 years, 3 years, 2 years. But, the answer was, "six to eighteen months." WHAT! The wind was blown out of me, the tears came deeply from within and my heart was burdened in deep chocking pain. Six months to a year and a half, that's it. I know my cancer is aggressive. I know I am stage 4. I know that at this point tumors have not begun to shrink (while there doesn't appear to be any new ones (Praise GOD!)) I know that there is not a cure for Renal Cell Carcinoma. But a six months to a year and a half, that's all?
This is not fair. How can this be? Lord, are you sure? My doctor quickly reminded me that this is the average person. He said to me, "Choose to not be the average. Choose to let your faith lead you. Believe that you will be healed. Keep the faith. Keep looking for treatments and trials, and new medicines with us; because, there is only one who knows the time frame of our lives." And, Dr. Assiskis humbled admitted, "And I am not him!"
I have struggled the past few weeks with this new knowledge. Six months, Twelve months, 365 days, 4,380 hours, 262,800 minutes, millions of precious moments, but, that’s not much time to make and save up a life time of memories that I want, that I thought I would have. I just knew I would prom dress shop with Savannah and Ella. I would hate their first boyfriends, and discipline them for their first speeding ticket. I would plan the most grandest of weddings. I would travel with Jason. We would grow old and fat together. And now, now, you are telling me my life expectancy is six months to a year and a half. What do I do with this knowledge?
How do I live in the reality of medical knowledge and the diagnosis of a doctor and yet in my faith and belief in miracles and healing and "All things are possible with my God?" Let me humbly admit that I am scared. I am mad. I am sad. I am overwhelmed. I feel alone and I wonder if I really have enough faith.If I have a only six months to a year, then you know, I want a plan. How can I do everything I thought I would have a lifetime to do in a year? But, what if I have more than a year?
God is a God of miracles...He is the Great Physician, I could be the above average person, I might not be the above average person. How do I not think every day, this could be the last time I do this? or that? How do I manage the feelings of despair I feel when Savannah asks me, "If I will teach her to drive when she is 15?" and I know the answer is no. Oh, I have so much to work through and to consider. What knowledge do I cling to, medical knowledge of trained professionals, or with faith that maybe they are wrong?!?!?
As I have debated these questions I am reminded of the lyrics of a wonderful Casting Crowns song, "Already There."
From where I'm standing
Lord, it's so hard for me to see
Where this is going
And where You're leading me
I wish I knew how
All my fears and all my questions
Are going to play out
In a world I can't control
When I'm lost in the mystery
To You my future is a memory
'Cause You're already there
You're already there
Standing at the end of my life
Waiting on the other side
And You're already there
You're already there
And all the chaos
Comes together in Your hands
Like a masterpiece
Of Your picture perfect plan
And so in the midst of all my questions, in the reality of knowing I have a six months to a year and a half to live according to all medical knowledge and with faith in the Greatest Physician I am trying to remain trusting and thankful for a loving, omnipotent God who can see further than I can and who can and will "work all things together for my good." (Romans 8:28) I will trust that all the chaos will come together in His hands like a masterpiece.
As I do just that, I ask that you pray for me. For Jason and the girls, for my family and friends. We all are trying to process what we know in our heads and hearts. Support us please with your prayers, presence and love. I do not know what the future will hold, but I do know I am choosing to try to live abundantly, for my God has called me to to such! I will spend every moment I can with friends and family. I want to go out to dinners with friends. I want to go to a Braves game, I want to stay at the beach for a week. I want to take the girls to the Coca Cola museum, the Aquarium, Wild Animal Safari. I want to travel somewhere for a a romantic weekend with my husband. I want to eat chips and dip until I can't eat anymore. I want to be with friends. I want to worship with my family. I want to spend every moment I can with loved ones and friends.
Join me in this journey of a lifetime! I love you all and can't wait to make some wonderful memories with each of you. Call me!! Invite me! or I'll track you down! Pray with me and for me, encourage me, love my family, and together may we conquer whatever tomorrow holds.