The Suburb Woman
Cancer Will Not Beat Us
Posted on October 27th, 2013

There are times in life when news comes you are never prepared to hear. 

I’ve experienced a couple of those moments in my life, but none to date like occurred this past month. It’s the kind of news where the air evaporates and leaves only the sound of a heartbeat pounding loudly in your ears.

That was our Sept. 26, 2013 … “There is a tumor …”

It happened again on Oct. 2 … “grade four glioblastoma … not curable … manageable … survival rate is …”

Mike and I shared the diagnosis and surgery details. It helps us to process what we are facing. Capturing the week immediately following surgery helped us relay to family and friends what the results were and more about what we are learning and experiencing.

Our first week home was different, but good. The countless cards, emails, texts, and some meals have been blessings. Last Sunday as we left to return to Houston, my family and childhood friends from Noble, Okla. descended onto our home and showed us love and comfort through hugs and hard work by transforming our beloved gardens.

The follow up in Houston went well.  It was the first time a doctor said unsolicited, “I have a patient who is 20 years out from surgery. It’s an exception, but it is possible.” The first treatment plan is for Mike to undergo six weeks of daily chemotherapy (in the form of a capsule that can be taken at home) in conjunction with 20 minutes a day, five days a week of radiation to the tumor bed to continue to try and kill the remaining area of the tumor that is unseen and could not be surgically removed.  

This week Mike returns to the care of Dr. Brian Geister at the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute of Oklahoma. We have complete faith that Mike is in the best medical hands possible.

Despite our intense faith in God and fully knowing he will bring glory from the ashes, I’m struggling. There are days when second by second I remind myself to breathe. Even with this post, I struggle to share as much as possible for the many prayer warriors while maintaining a level of privacy for Mike and our family with some unknowns and emotions.

Mike and I have visited and I can share one of the unexpected results of surgery. Because I was told, "we were aggressive as possible, but no harm was done," Iexpected a full recovery. It’s not the surgeon’s fault for how I interpreted that statement.  Mike has no motor skill troubles, analytically he’s good, and no problems with bleeding, swelling, seizures or blood clots. With this type of surgery, that in and of itself is amazing.

There are some lingering deficits I wasn’t aware could happen and probably couldn’t have prepared for even if I did know. Initially, I was worried by the severe speech, memory and comprehension issues the first few days after surgery – but as the swelling subsided and his speech returned, I expected all to go back to normal as much as possible. I've since learned there is more than speech, memory,and comprehension to consider with a gross resection of the left temporal lobe.

Mike looks great, feels good and can carry on conversations with friends, acquaintances and our kids, but there are parts of who he is and who we are together that I’m waiting to reappear as his recovery continues.

He cannot describe or understand emotions. He is agitated when I’m sad because he doesn't know why I feel that way. He's shown some emotions a few times, but is not sure which emotion it is and, for the most part, his emotions are fairly flat. While after surgery, as the doctors described, he "didn't know what he didn't know," he's more aware now there are a lot of missing parts and he's not sure how to find them, keep them, understand them … so we wait.  I constantly encourage him all is fine and he is getting better day-by-day.

From the diagnosis to surgery we were a team in this together.  We talked for hours (always have). We prayed. We cried together. We were resilient. It is probably one of the closest, most intimate times we've had.

We’re still a team, just different. There are a lot more silent moments. We are comforted by the other's presence, but with the emotional and comprehension gap it's hard to help each other.
He has been going to work and does his job well. I think this is what the surgeon meant by doing him no harm. My sister-in-law shared some wonderful insight that some of what Mike is working through can be seen as God’s mercy to allow him to have the strength and focus he needs to fight this horrible disease without extra worry and emotions.

So …I'm praying for patience, something I can never recall praying for because of what comes with it. I've decided there is probably no better time than the present to go through a boot camp on patience. I believe I will need patience more than anything – patience in waiting to see what returns in regard to Mike’s memory and emotions; patience with the treatments and its side effects; patience with my children who still need their parents and a sense of normalcy; patience with myself; patience with my job; and patience with God's timing and perfect will.
We absolutely love the encouragement.

The expressions of support, the prayers, and the many kind things people have done, said and are willing to do is uplifting. I can't imagine how we would feel without it.  But it’s hard for me not to miss who my husband was before the surgery right now. Mike is an amazing, articulate, intelligent, creative, adventurous, generous man who challenges me, loves me and gives me refuge. 

He is still still here in so many ways. I see all his best qualities when he smiles and despite emotional memory challenges, he is calm.  I love him now more than when I pledged to love him the rest of my life a decade ago. Our anniversary is Monday. I tell him I would marry him again over and over. I would take back all the days I took for granted and cherish each and every day.

We’re in this fight for the long haul.  The adrenaline is starting to give way to fatigue, fear and some sadness. There is some anger on my part too. I think this has to all be natural. 
I will attempt to post weekly, as I know the power of all those praying and sending us powerful thoughts matter.

But, above all else – I know God is good. I know we will beat cancer. I know cancer will not beat us.  

From "Jesus Calling"

My face is shining upon you, beaming out Peace that transcends understanding. You are surrounded by a sea of problems, but you are face-to-Face with Me, your Peace. As long as you focus on Me, you are safe. If you gaze too long at the myriad of problems around you, you will sink under the weight of your burdens. When you start to sink, simply call out, "Help me, Jesus!" and I will lift you up.

The closer you live to Me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on Me, the One who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to portions of My design. I am always beside you, helping you face today's waves. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future! Stay close to Me.

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