Cancer…..stinks. Pure and simple. There’s hardly a good connotation that derives from hearing the word. It’s a word that people hate to hear. And yet, it seems so commonplace these days. I know plenty of people who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Some have survived. Some have not.
In March of 2016, Ned (my dad) was diagnosed with Stage 4 Atypical Non-small cell adenocarcinoma in his right lung. It was found in the fluid of his right lung. There were no tumors, nothing to pinpoint the source. It was just there. His oncologist described it like this, “Imagine an island has fallen off into the ocean and you have no idea where the island came from.”
The prognosis: four months with no treatment. Nine to fifteen months with treatment. It wasn’t lengthy either way! However, if you know Ned, then you know he’s tenacious and determined. His determination wasn’t just for himself. It was also for my Mom. He didn’t want her to have to bury another husband. He felt like she was getting the raw end of the deal. He felt responsible and wanted to fight for her and for himself.
During his first visit with his oncologist, Dr. Navin Anthony, he asked the following question, after formal introductions. “I have one question before we get started. Do you believe in God?”
His response, “Yes, I do.”
To which Ned responded, “Good! I believe that God is going to use you to heal me!”
Ned decided to bring chemotherapy. First, he would need to have a PluerX catheter inserted into his right lung and a port.
About a week after his surgery, he began chemo! The initial treatment began with a three drug round-up. Avastin, Alimta and Carboplatin. These were administered every three weeks.
In May, he began having problems with his vision. A few weeks later, discovered he had a stroke. A stroke caused from Avastin. Therefore, it was dropped from his regimen.
Around the end of June, as we prayed diligently, the fluid production in the ling, stopped. Air began moving completely through his lung. CT scans began showing no visible signs of cancer. It was miracle.
After about six weeks, the PluerX tube was removed. Life was normal, except for every three weeks of treatment, with the chief complaint of tiredness.
On September 28, he had his last round of chemo. From September through April, he enjoyed life. He had some tiredness. Got winded more easily but really began living again.
In April, the CT Chest scan revealed swollen lymph nodes in the mediastinum. A bronchoscopy would reveal the cancer had returned. Ned was not surprised. He hadn’t been feeling up to par. However, it was disappointing and discouraging.
His PD-L1 was a 90% efficiency rate, meaning that made him a perfect candidate for Keytruda. The immunotherapy drug. The rating at 90% indicated that his cancer would most likely respond favorably.
He decided to proceed. He knew the risks and side effects associated with the drug. What we didn’t know is how his body would respond. His body didn’t like Keytruda. He was hyper-sensitive and for him it caused an adrenal insufficiency. After only three treatments, the drug had to be discontinued.
Thus began the downward spiral. It would take hours to write about what happened from August 8 until October 29 and maybe someday I will. Suffice to say, beginning on or around September 6, Ned was in the ER four times in less than six weeks. Three out of the four, he was admitted for hospital stays.
The final admittance was on October 15. For several days, he was unable to keep anything on his stomach, including medicine. His pain and nausea were unbearable. He was pitiful.
By Wednesday, we had already consulted with Dr. Sawyer, the Palliative Care Doctor. She showed great empathy and concern for us, as we talked over events from the past two months. At the end of the conversation, she said she wanted to talk with Ned, alone and also confer with Dr. Anthony.
On Wednesday evening, one of the few times, I wasn’t physically in the room when a doctor was present, Dr Anthony came to talk to Ned. I was privy to hearing the conversation via phone.
On that evening, Ned made it clear that he no longer desired treatment. Dr Anthony told him that he would respect and honor his decision.
In typical Ned fashion he said, “Well, if it’s my time to go. It’s my time to go.”
As Dr Anthony left the room, tears began to flow. I could audibly hear Ned. Then my sister, Kristi, walks out into the hallway, through broken sobs herself and says, “It’s so pitiful watching mom and Ned cry.”
I think Ned knew for awhile that his healing wasn’t going to be here and that he was going to receive the ultimate healing. His body had just worn out. He was tired. He was ready to go home.
I believe, with all of my heart, that Dr Anthony was greatly used by God to bring healing to Ned’s body for almost 19 months. I also believe that Dr Anthony was greatly used by God when he told Ned that he would support any decision he made. He released Ned to the Ultimate Healer. Now, Ned is whole again!
You see, we pray for miracles. They don’t always come packaged the way we want them. But if you believe in God, you are a miracle because He has set your soul free.
I believe in miracles. I believe we see them everyday. I believe sometimes our jaded sense of what a miracle actually is limits us from seeing the whole miracle.