Handling the "What Ifs" (week twelve)
Today is a day of mixed emotions. Rachel has completed her final scheduled chemo treatment and now we wait for the PET scan on December 4th to inform our next steps. For now, we look back over the last twelve weeks with a sea of gratitude, joy, sadness, anxiety, and peace. It has been such a hard road but one where we have felt sustained by God and His people each and every mile. There are many “ifs” in our future and we have learned to create a plan for each one so we can set it aside and focus on what is at hand. Here are a few of them:
If the tumors remain:
We’re going to cry. A lot. And then we’re going to pick ourselves up and keep fighting what remains. We would likely start by adding 4-6 weeks of the current protocol, as it has proven effective so far. We would then do follow up imaging after that and go from there.
If the cancer is gone:
We’re gunna have a big party. Then we’re going to get to work to make sure it never returns. This will mean 9 more months of immunotherapy every three weeks in Seattle as well as a strict regimen of sauna, hyperbaric, diet, exercise, and supplements. The goal will be to support and enhance Rachel’s immune system to identify and destroy any remaining cancer stem cells that would normally create recurrences in the future. This is called Spontaneous Remission, which has become one of our favorite phrases in our home lately.
If Rachel is unable to have the reattachment surgery:
This is unlikely…but still something we have considered. It would be unimaginably difficult to wrap our heads around a life with a colostomy but that is what we will need to do and we have faith that God will give the grace
If Rachel is able to have children:
We don’t know what affect the chemo has had on Rachel’s ability to have children but we are so excited to add to our family. We will need to prayerfully consider what this will mean for us as we move into the maintenance phase of treatment. Data shows that you are most likely (90% in some studies) to have a recurrence in the first five years after treatment. After the five year mark without a recurrence, the odds of it ever showing up again drop dramatically. These are all things that we are beginning to wrestle with as we look to the future.
If we can no longer have children:
We will mourn the death of this dream. Afterwards, we would adopt and would be honored to add to our family in the same way God adopted us into His.
If the end of this trial means Rachel leaves us for her heavenly home:
I can’t even type these words without tears. This was one of the first things we needed to process together. It helped Rachel to know that we had discussed this possibility and “know” how our family would survive without her. We’ve discussed things from where we would live to who would care for our kids.
If we get Rachel for many, many more years:
We will never take another day for granted. Ok, that’s pretty cliché. We probably will still take a day or two a year for granted…but all in all, we intend to see the best of our situation, to enjoy the rainy days as much as the sunny ones, and to cherish what time we have together this side of eternity.
For now, we put these what ifs in God’s hands and deal with what we do have influence over: Today.
Today, we look forward to Thanksgiving spent with family. We look forward to gathering with our church family that morning at 10am to share testimonies and focus our hearts on what gratitude truly means. Most of all, we look forward to not having to drive to Seattle every. Single. Week.
We don’t know what the future holds but we do know who holds it.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?[a] 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.