He Holds Me Close to His Heart
I was excited when I woke up and learned that everything had gone smoothly; I did not end up with a punctured lung, nor did I turn blue once I got home and have to call 911.
Although I was not very fond of the idea of having to call National Jewish Hospital to speak with a pulmonary expert, I complied with my oncologist’s wishes. Much to my surprise, I was able to get in to see a specialist very quickly. Next thing I knew, I found myself entering the doors of yet another hospital. Upon entering, I noticed it was kind of old and had a very musty smell. Something about it was not very comforting to me. The mood, however, changed upon my husband and I meeting the specialist who was just like my oncologist – very calm, displaying a nice relaxing demeanor. After a thorough exam, he informed me that I did not present with any of the symptoms of sarcoidosis. I thought to myself, “well this is great….or not so great because if I don’t have sarcoidosis, my oncologist is not going to let me have a doctor free winter in Florida.” The specialist informed me, if not for my history of cancer and my oncologist’s wishes of having my chest lymph nodes biopsied, based on my scans and lack of symptoms, he would not even bother biopsying my lymph nodes. “Ugh,” I thought to myself, “that dreaded cancer is once again really adding some challenges to my life.” He continued by informing me about a renowned doctor who will perform the bronchoscopy (that is the neat little procedure where they put a tube down your throat that has an ultrasound at the tip of it and then insert this super long needled through the tube so that they can get samples of your nodes). This amazing doctor even practices right there at National Jewish Hospital. My specialist assured me that this doctor was one of the best in the world, not just the state or the country. Moreover, he reminded me that I should not forget that I am at the number one respiratory hospital in the country. This, admittedly, does make me feel a bit better about a procedure that I am, quite frankly, dreading. Because of these comforting words, I left the hospital doors feeling a little more positive then when I entered through them.
National Jewish typically has a wait time of a few weeks to get in for a procedure. But, after a little prayer and a great doctor, I get in for the bronchoscopy within only four days. Wow! Yet another blessing! As you can imagine, the days leading up to the procedure felt a little longer than normal, but I was relieved when I finally made it to biopsy day. I was ready to finally learn if I had sarcoidosis or the dreaded lymphoma (which, thankfully had not come up much in discussion up until this point, but, in all actuality was the whole reason I was having the procedure – to rule it out). Again, I found myself clinging to the hope of yet another disease – sarcoidosis. Last time I was hoping for kidney cancer and this time some strange disease that I honestly knew nothing about, but was a bit terrified to do much research on. Is the longing to be diagnosed with random diseases normal? Well, it was for me and it gave me lots of hope. One thing you learn after being told once that you have cancer is that you never want to be told you have it again. So much so that you will hope, and pray, for other diseases. Yes, your whole world does change once you have been told you have cancer. And, it never, ever goes back to the way it was before you first heard those words.. However, if you allow it, this truth can be an amazingly good thing!
Upon meeting the doctor who was going to perform the procedure necessary to biopsy my lymph nodes, I was thrilled to learn that he too was very friendly; reassuring me that this procedure was simple. He, in fact, performs up to five of them a day. This definitely made me feel a little better. However, after his brief moment of positivity came the dreaded consent form where he informed me that, although this procedure was super easy, he could possibly puncture one of my lungs. “It’s really no big deal,” he continued, “it will only require a four day stay in the hospital and then you will be fine.” “Oh, I just need those ruby slippers again,” I think to myself, “no problem!” Can I just tell you, my few years of working in the medical malpractice field as an attorney are not helping me out at all right now. After haven seen everything that goes wrong in the medical field come across my desk, I am not having too much hope in the medical profession at this time. Therefore, I decide to turn my hope to the only one that I can trust completely, the one who won’t make a mistake or ever let me down – God. You know, I’ve been in this place before, lying on a hospital bed, with an IV in my vein, knowing that in moments I will be completely submitting my body to strangers to do whatever they want to do to it. So, I confidently decided that instead of embracing dread, I was going to lay in complete submission to my King, Protector and Provider – my Mighty God. Let me tell you, it’s not hard at all when you submit your entire being to Him. All the worries I had with giving myself over to people in the medical profession rapidly disappeared when I instead turned my focus to giving myself totally and completely to God. Complete and utter submission. Can I tell you something, it was an amazingly good feeling. A peace that simply transcended all human understanding.
I was excited when I woke up and learned that everything had gone smoothly; I did not end up with a punctured lung nor did I turn blue once I got home and have to call 911 (yep, another possible side effect of this procedure that apparently really is “no big deal at all.”) But you want to know what did happen? After removing 10 samples of tissue from my three inflamed lymph nodes, the specialists at National Jewish tell me I “unfortunately fell into the 10% failure rate of this procedure.” Is this something I knew was even possible, you ask? Well, yes I did. I remembered having the discussion with the first doctor I met. The way he presented it to me was to tell me that this amazing procedure did away with the need of an invasive chest surgery and has an astounding 90% success rate. When presented to me that way, did I think much about me falling into the 10% failure rate? No, I did not! Honestly, I dismissed it as quickly as the thought entered my mind. A success rate of 90%, performed at the leading respiratory hospital in the country, and by one of the best doctors in the country (who, by the way was one of the inventors, yes inventors, of this procedure) why would I need to worry about falling into the tiny percentage of patients who this procedure does not work for?
Let’s see, I fall into the .6% of the population who gets this weird thing called calyceal diverticulum (which has a history of being misdiagnosed as cancer) and now I fall into the 10% of the patients who the bronchoscopy simply does not yield results for. Hmmm….. This is all getting a little too familiar. So, what exactly does all of this mean? This means that out of the 10 tissue samples the doctors did retrieve from my lymph nodes, none of them showed anything. In my layman mind, I think this is excellent! Benign, isn’t that fantastic news? Apparently it is not in the respiratory world of medicine. I guess there is a very high probability that if they performed surgery, removing one of my inflamed lymph nodes, therefore having a much bigger tissue sample to work with since they would have the entire node, it is more likely than not, yes, MORE LIKELY THAN NOT, that they could find a disease, including cancer. I guess that a disease can be deeply embedded in a node, where the tip of a tiny needle is not able to access it, therefore remaining undetected and silent. My specialists wanted to quickly get me signed up for surgery, which again they said was simple and easy; namely, I would be out of the hospital in about 5 hours and only required to stay one overnight.
Well, I was not too keen on the idea of a surgeon cutting into my chest, inserting a long instrument, and removing a lymph node from the center of my chest! I have already had 16 lymph nodes removed from my right arm, and I need these little gems as they clean all the garbage and toxicity out of my system; toxicity that comes in the form of cancer by the way. Not only did I not want to lose yet another one, but I really don’t want to expose my body to the risk of complications that can naturally come with going under the knife. As a result, I told my specialist thank you, but no thanks, not at this time. He politely tells me “you know where to find me if you change your mind.” Well, yes, unfortunately, I do know where to find you if I change my mind.
What does this all mean for me? Well, there is a little story I never told you that is an integral part of this puzzle. Way back when my tumor markers first began to elevate, just before my first PET scan this year, I experienced something remarkable. Remember, in one of my earlier blogs I told you that right before my initial biopsy for breast cancer I clearly heard God say to me “this is not going to be okay, but I am going to be with you every step of the way.” Well, this time, I was taking communion in church, which is something I do every Saturday night. As I was bowing my head, talking to my loving, almighty Father, this powerful energy came over me. Once you have felt this power, not only do you never ever forget it, but you always reconnect with it quickly when it returns because you know exactly who it is. This time he did not speak. Instead, he wrapped me in his holiness and showered lots of tiny gold, stunningly beautiful snowflakes all over me. In the middle of a congregation of over 1,000 people, at this moment, it was just me and God. The tears began to pour down my face. Again, yes again, he decided to pour his wisdom and holiness all over me.
“Call to me and I will answer you; I will tell you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
I looked over at Mike and all I could say, among the tears, was I don’t have cancer in my lymph nodes and I am going to be okay.
You see, during my whole journey I have never forgotten this. I have never forgotten the words God revealed to my heart. So although I went along with my doctor’s orders because that’s just what you do (isn’t it?), the whole time I have been trusting God and the whole time he has been proven to be correct. When the doctors were certain it was cancer in my kidney, it was only a rare condition that is not harmful and only a mere .6% of the population get. Then, when the doctors were convinced the lesions in my lungs must be cancerous because I did not have cancer in my kidney, my tumor markers remained completely stable for over 3 months! Cancer doesn’t do that, it grows. And now, doctors want answers from lymph node biopsies that they are not getting because I fell into the small 10% failure rate. Is this all coincidental? Absolutely not! This is a clear demonstration that God is in complete control over my life. I know the doctors still want answers, but the only one who really needs an answer is me and I got that many months ago and it came from the one who controls the entire universe. For me, an answer from God is better than any answer that comes from any doctor, I don’t care how specialized.
Even when I completely trust God, I always continue to use the remarkable brain he gave me. And, after using it, I obviously understand that my body is inflamed somewhere or my markers would not continue to elevate over the course of six months. After praying about this, and being open to advice from those who dedicate their life to a natural, non-toxic lifestyle, I quickly came upon an amazing website published by a young man who naturally healed himself of stage III colon cancer. After viewing his website extensively, I learned that this man too depended upon God to lead him down the correct path of healing for his body. Imagine that! Since then, I have employed his naturopath who has me on a detox diet and supplements. After just 10 days I already feel my body responding tremendously. Now all I have to do is trust that God is leading me down the right path and it will end in healing. And you know what, I already do! God tells us,
“I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalm 32:8
All we need to do is be still, quiet, attentive and then listen.
One more thing before I leave you. Can I just remind you of something that I have been reminded of these past six months of lots of doctors and procedures that have yielded no results in the midst of continuously elevating tumor markers:
“God does not willingly bring grief or affliction to us. He does not delight in causing us to experience pain or heartache. He always has a purpose for the grief He brings or allows to come into our lives. Most often we do not know what that purpose is, but it is enough to know that His infinite wisdom and perfect love have determined that the particular sorrow is best for us. God never wastes pain. He always uses it to accomplish His purpose. And His purpose is for His glory and our good.” Jerry Bridges – Trusting God