Still here

New answer day has come a little earlier than expected.  I’ve managed to get in early to see the oncologist and so, hopefully, by tomorrow lunch time I’ll know what I’m facing.  11 hours to go…

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Still waiting …

Today was meant to be answers day.  After a sleepless night my parents and I rocked up at the Cancer Centre, prepared for bad news but hoping for good news.  Instead of news we got … nothing.  No further results from the bone marrow biopsy are available.  So, we’re back to the waiting and I see my doctor in the first week of the school holidays – 5 weeks away!  Again, we’ve been blown away by the love and support shown by friends and family, especially the amazing school where mum and I work.  God’s mercies are being revealed in these wonderful people.

Waiting

For the last three weeks I’ve been waiting.  Waiting for the cytogenics testing to be complete.  Waiting for a definite diagnosis.  Waiting to know exactly what it is that I am facing.  Tonight, I wonder if I would be better off waiting.  I am nervous and scared about what tomorrow will bring.  I feel nauseous at the thought of what might come.  I am having trouble controlling my thoughts and keeping track of the big picture.  This is where I am at, but it is not where I want to be.  I know that tomorrow’s news is not a surprise to God.  I know that my illness is being used as part of His plan for me, and those around me, to bring Him glory.  I know that the ultimate battle is already won, that Jesus has paid the price for me to be made right with God and to live with Him forever.  I know that what awaits after death is more glorious and wonderful than I can even begin to imagine.  But here, in the shadow of tomorrow, I am afraid of how I’ll get there.   This is where my mind needs to be right now:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:4-7

What I’m listening to

Music speaks a language all of its own and can minister to our souls in a much deeper way than words alone.  I am certainly listening to more music than I have in a while.  It encourages me and shifts the focus of my thoughts when the silence is too much.  Here are some of the songs I have been listening to.

Fights in my head

There is a war going on in me.  Not physically, emotionally.  Today was the hardest day yet in the mind department.  I made the mistake of looking further into my prognosis and the thought that I might be dead by Christmas hit me hard.  Even writing it seems silly.  Not real.  So, for the rest of the day I had this battle between my mind and my heart.  I know that Heaven is waiting and there is such a big part of me that can not wait to get there.  Life hurts so much at the moment and I am looking forward to that being over.  But I know that for my family and friends the hurt won’t end with my death.  That’s what is so hard to take.  For me, that is where I am having a battle.  That’s where the battle is raging between what I know and what I feel.  I need help tonight to bring my feelings under the truth of God’s goodness.  Again, despite this turmoil I am also weirdly at peace.  I know God won’t forsake my family, I know that in the grand scheme of eternity this will be like nothing, but here on earth, at this time, it hurts.  Very thankful that I know both the Author of this story and the ending and I know that He cares for those I love even more than I do.

Peace in the midst of chaos

My world has been tipped upside down over the last week.  I feel a bit like I am in the video effect you see in movies, where a person is standing still and everything is moving at warp-speed around them.  I also feel a bit like I am safely inside home while a massive storm rages outside.  That is the miracle I am seeing at the moment – God’s peace despite the storms and craziness all around.  Very grateful for that tonight.

A sad day

StewartStewart was born in our house just before I turned 18.  He has been with me for all my uni study, moving out of home for the first time, moving into the first home I built, was with me during my Hodgkin’s treatment and through Mum’s brain surgery as well as moving back home with mum and dad a couple of years ago.  Today we took our precious 15 year-old cat to the vet for the last time.  He has been increasingly slow and sick over the last few months and deteriorated rapidly over the last 48 hours.  We knew it was time, but it didn’t make that last car ride any easier.  The poor old-man cat started purring the minute I picked him up off the bed at home and didn’t stop until the medication stopped his heart.  Goodbye, Stewie. I miss you.

Telling my school

Here is a copy of the letter I read at staff Devotions this morning:

Hi everyone!

This is not a letter I ever though I’d have to write!  But here goes …

Back in 2004 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  I was treated with high-dose chemotherapy and have been in complete remission since then.

In 2011, I contracted parvo-virus (the human kind, not the dog-kind!) and was found to have low platelet levels.  It was expected that these would head back up into ‘normal’ territory as I recovered, but they didn’t – they stayed quite low.

At the end of Week 1 of this term, I had a spontaneous bleed under my skin and so headed back to the oncologist earlier than planned and saw him in Week 2.  He sent me off for a Bone Marrow Biopsy (ow!), a top-to-toe CT scan and tested my blood for every virus known to man.  The CT results were encouraging because, apart from a sinus infection, there was no evidence of the lymphoma returning – no tumors anywhere at all.

Yesterday I saw the oncologist again.  My blood work was clear, except for a minor non-related electrolyte imbalance.  However, it wasn’t good news regarding the bone marrow biopsy.  This showed that while I have a good volume of platelets they are low-quality and damaged.

Now, I am waiting to receive the cytogenetic (cell genetics) tests to be finished.  Barring the miracle of ‘spontaneous remission’, there are two possible outcomes:

1 – My bone marrow is functioning fine, but my spleen is hoarding platelets.  By removing my spleen, my platelet levels would increase and production would be back to normal.  This is not the likely outcome.

2 – I have a pre-leukemic malignant condition called “Myelodysplastic syndrome” (my-a-low-dis-plastic).  This would be a direct result of the chemo that destroyed the Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  This is the likely outcome.

So, where to from here?  In the short term, I am waiting for the cytogenetic results to come back on the 12th of March.  This should tell me what I’m facing and what the immediate future will look like.  Long term, I don’t know what my prognosis is.  However, I do know that I am in the hands of The One who does know and I know that I will not live any longer, or any shorter, than He had planned for me right from the beginning.

In particular, please pray for:

– my family, especially mum and dad and my brother and sister-in-law.  They have the toughest role by far!

– healing and the faith to trust regardless of the outcome.  God is more than able to heal me but I am also very aware that God’s plan for me may not include a miraculous cure for this disease, it may not include a cure at all this side of Heaven.

– good results from the cytogenetics testing with no genetic abnormailites in the platelets.

– strength to control my mind.  There are times that I am, and will be, scared and overwhelmed and I need to fight to keep control over my thoughts, to examine them in the light of the Gospel.

There are so many things to be grateful for.  I am grateful for God’s peace, that amazing peace that truly doesn’t make sense.  I am so blessed to have the support of incredible family and friends and a wonderful workplace.  I am already feeling overwhelmed by your love and support, so thank you.  Most of all I am grateful that the enemy was defeated at the cross and that this diagnosis, while a shock for me, is not a surprise for God.  He is still in control!

Lauren