I Just Need To Drink More Water, Right?
Upon getting the call that my tumor markers had not gone back down, but, in fact, had continued to rise, I realized that I truly had absolutely no control over this situation
The last time I left you, my tumor markers were elevated and I was waiting five weeks to then have a repeat blood test. After surviving the long five week wait, it was time to go back to my oncologist’s office to have my blood drawn again. I was very hopeful that my five weeks of having complete control over my diet, would yield positive results. Namely, my tumor markers would be in the normal range again. Isn’t it funny how we think if we just exercise complete control over a situation that we can direct the outcome? Well God was prepared to show me that only He has control and, if I was going to get through this peacefully, I must yield to Him.
Upon getting the call that my tumor markers had not gone back down, but, in fact, had continued to rise, I realized that I truly had absolutely no control over this situation. The oncology nurse informed me that my doctor wanted me to have a PET scan. “A PET scan,” I thought to myself. “I have not been in that machine for five years and I have just hit the big five years being cancer free….I am not supposed to be going back into that machine now.” She assured me that it was “probably not cancer, but they just had to be sure since my markers continued to elevate.”
On July 7th, at 8:30 in the morning, I reported for my PET scan. Honestly, after having gone through this test five years ago and being told they detected no cancer in my body, I never thought I would see this machine again, or its radioactive contrast for that matter. About that radioactive contrast….for me it is the scariest part of the test. I don’t like anything going into my vein, let alone a radioactive substance. After not being permitted to eat or drink since dinner the night before, they then ask you to drink this terrible stuff called barium (which tastes like liquefied chalk) and then tell you to “relax” as they inject radioactive contrast into your vein. Relax…ok, no problem at all, I will just sit here and relax as you try to ascertain whether or not the cancer has returned to my body. There even is a special container, with the symbol and word “radioactive” displayed across it (you know the symbol I’m talking about…and yes, that went into my bloodstream) that they have to deposit the empty bottle into, and seal, after injecting it into the human vein. My nerves get pretty fired up when watching all of this stuff; relaxation truly isn’t on my mind, let me just tell you. So for me, I have to sit back, close my eyes and talk to God. I really can do nothing else at this point besides give the whole situation to Him; as I had discovered previously, this entire situation is obviously completely and utterly out of my control.
The next step of the PET scan makes my endeavor to relax easy as they ask you to sit back in a recliner and rest while the contrast makes its way through your body, potentially being absorbed by any cancer that is present. After forty minutes of hanging out in the recliner, you are asked to move into the machine itself. This wasn’t too difficult as the PET machine is not bad at all; it’s not claustrophobic or noisy, like an MRI. It’s really quite easy to keep that relaxed mood going. The test itself only takes about 30 minutes and is completely pain free. After finishing, all I had to do was wait a few days for the results, wondering if any of the cells in my body absorbed any of that nifty radioactive contrast.
As I waited, I was reminded of an experience I will never forget, which occurred the day of my original blood draw in May. (The draw when we learned that for the first time ever my tumor markers were in the cancer zone.) It’s important to understand, after receiving a year of chemotherapy, my body always reacts on days when my mind knows I am going back to that place for a “visit.” As such, every time that I have a blood draw, I am very anxious that morning when I wake up. I have no patience at all and feel like I ingested five cups of coffee, when I have had none. It’s one of those days when I am not a person you want to be around; not even for a few minutes, just ask my husband. Well, for the first time in five years (another first for me), I had the most beautiful, serene peace that morning. As I was driving to ride my horse, I felt like I was sitting on the beach, watching a slowly moving ocean with a magnificent sunset cascading behind it. It, quite simply, was an unexplainable peace that transcended all human logic and understanding. To me, it was nothing other than the peace of God, telling me that everything was going to be okay. Quite frankly, I have not had as many experiences with God as I would like to say I have. (I want more as they defy all human understanding and are so amazing!) I have, however, had a handful and for that I am truly grateful. There is one in particular that I feel I must mention as it has been an integral part of my journey; and experience that keeps me going even when my circumstances look pretty dismal.
Going back five years in time, right before I received the dreaded diagnosis of having breast cancer, I experienced God in a whole different way. After my original ultrasound was completed, to see if my lump was cancerous, the radiologist asked me if I could stay for a biopsy. I agreed. She then positioned me onto my side and removed the sheet so she had access to my lump. Immediately, in these exact words, God said to me “this is not going to be okay, but I will be with you every step of the way.” Wow! Upon leaving the room, I knew. I had to wait four days for those results and it was not a long wait at all because when you know that you know you have cancer, let me just tell you, you know. God spoke to me, blessing me with His knowledge and peace, and it has become an integral part of who I am today.
You see, God is not afraid to speak and tell us when things are not going to turn out as we hope. What needs to happen is that we need to be quiet enough that we can hear Him. We also need to have faith that He is who He says he is. So, after reminding myself of the day God clearly told me I had cancer, I also reminded myself of the peace that He wrapped around my entire body, while driving down a busy interstate no less, the morning of that first blood draw that would yield a bad result. I also reminded myself how God has never let me down. He has seen me through a near death experience and breast cancer. What is of utmost importance for me to remind myself of is to never, ever doubt God, even when all the doctors tell you otherwise; reminding myself of, and reconnecting with, this peace made the two day wait for my PET scan results completely bearable. God has authority and the ultimate say over all, yes all, things.
My peace, however, was temporarily challenged upon getting the call from the doctor’s office that my oncologist wanted to see me because they had found lesions in my lungs, inflamed lymph nodes, and a mass in my kidney! I said to myself, “God, this is not the peace of a tranquil ocean outlined by a beautiful, serene sunset!” After ten minutes of disbelief, I regained my composure and reminded myself who God is.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my pace of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protects you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalms 91:2-4 (NLT).
So, as I waited to talk to my doctor, I never for one minute forgot who my God is and about the promises He has made to me. And, these beautiful thoughts would definitely carry me through the next few appointments, which were incredibly scary to say the least.
***TO BE CONTINUED. I don’t want to overburden you with too much to read at one time, so I will end my story here for now, but let me assure you it has continued and the roads we are traveling are pretty unbelievable. ***