Hardship and Loss Hit Us All (week seven)
Update on Rachel: Everything is going well! Symptoms of treatment were more manageable this week than previous weeks. Her white blood cell count was down again so we are back on the shots. Thankfully, they seem to be wildly successful for Rachel so we have high hopes for her numbers next week!
We are in the hurry up and wait period of treatment as we keep working the plan until our next imaging in 5 weeks. This is a welcome break from the drama of previous weeks.
Now to share what has been on our hearts. Hardship and loss have been ever present these past few weeks. Not just because of Rachel’s current trial…but because of the things happening in the lives of those we love most.
Uncle Steve was the Donald Family’s first close encounter with cancer. Ten years ago he was diagnosed with ocular melanoma and fought the good fight through numerous treatments, successes, and discouragements. He went home to be with the Lord three weeks ago. A few days later, we had a wonderful time of mourning and celebration of life with family, some of which we had not seen in many years. He was a kind and Godly man who had an impact on hundreds of people throughout his life. As we sat in the church, looking at the faces of people who loved Uncle Steve, it was clear that this was the best type of send-off one could hope for. To live a life that holds eternal weight is the ultimate goal.
A month ago, Dr. Gignac, our naturopathic doctor and the partner to our traditional oncologist, had a massive heart attack and passed away. I hesitate in talking about this at all as I recognize that we did not have time to grow close with him and there are many others who knew him far better and were more deeply affected on a personal level by this loss. What I can say is that our single, two hour meeting with him provided hope, encouragement, and direction during a low point in our journey. We had just gotten the news that Rachel would have six months to a year without aggressive treatment when he walked into the examination room and filled the final empty spot on our roster. The next day, he had sent us a ten page report on specific recommendations for Rachel with supporting research and tips for managing symptoms. I still frequently reference back to that report for our decisions and will likely do so for many months to come. We never had a follow up to that first consult. There is now a hole in many cancer fighter’s lives where Dr. Gignac once stood and he will be sorely missed.
Last Thursday, Arden Hazen, our nephew (one of our favorites…we have a lot to choose from), was diagnosed with leukemia. Since then he has started an aggressive treatment regimen that has a high success rate. That being said, a hope in the future doesn’t always translate into comfort for today, so we still pray for comfort and peace for the whole Hazen family as they walk through this new journey. Even after entering our own trial, I can still confidently say that we cannot fathom what his parents are going through. To see your child experience pain and suffering is the hardest thing I can imagine.
Over the last two months, Rachel was diagnosed with Stage IV Cancer, both Uncle Steve and Dr. Gignac passed away, and poor Arden was diagnosed with Leukemia. Folks, nothing in life is guaranteed. Hug your kids, hug your uncles, and, if you feel so led, hug your doctors. Don’t take your next conversation for granted, because it may be the last. And remember, you can’t take it with you.
There’s all the clichés. Now here’s the truth behind them: What we do in our life echos into the halls of eternity. Build yourself a legacy of grace on this side and a weight of glory on the other.
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.