What else can we do? If we don't laugh, we'll just cry...
This post is to update you, our dear friends and family, on the latest challenge in the cancer saga that was supposed to be over for my darling father.
As most of you know, my dad was first diagnosed with a GIST (that is, a gastro-intestinal stromal tumor) way back in 2002. After 13 years that included a recurrence, trying different drugs and a lot of pain, the tumor grew a 3rd time in the same location last summer and my dad made the decision to finally succumb to a full colostomy. We all hoped and believed that his choice to have all of that kind of tissue removed would end this excruciatingly long battle with cancer. After all, in all that time, the tumor had never metastasized to any other part of his body. Our hope was not unrealistic.
It was his 6 month post-op MRI that revealed something we couldn't have imagined.
All up and down his spine.
Six of them, to be exact.
For me, the shock and devastation were physical. Even now that I've found some courage, some hope, some positivity, remembering that Thursday afternoon 5 weeks ago makes my stomach turn. He had been having back pain, yes, but it was supposed to be a bulging disc.
He was seeing a physical therapist to treat a bulging disc.
It was never supposed to be cancer.
Not again, you see. Not to my hero and my dear, dear friend.
Even Papa who, as you know, has been unrelentingly positive throughout his journey, faltered. Through my tears, I asked "Daddy, are you scared?"
He replied "I was scared when I thought it was a bulging disc. Yes, Chels, I'm scared."
A biopsy revealed that these tumors are GIST. What's crazy is that Dr. Trent, the guru of GIST, said he had never once heard of GIST metastasized to the spine.
We've always known my dad was exceptional, haven't we?
After five weeks, we finally have a treatment plan. First week in April, a radiological oncologist is going to radiate the biggest tumors in the lumbar spine(the ones causing all the pain and muscle weakness in his right leg) in an effort to kill them. This radiation isn't like typical radiation, though, because it is very concentrated, very powerful and very specific. It is called Stereotactic body radiation therapy. He will have treatments in 3 fractions over the L2, L3, L4 and L5, then we'll see how they've reacted. Our hope, of course, is that they "fry and die"... (See how technical my medical vocabulary is?) He will also start on a chemotherapy drug, similar to the ones he has been on in the past, that will hopefully stop the growth of the other, smaller tumors and keep another metastasis from happening.
Why are we just now telling you about this, you ask?
Well, for awhile, we didn't know what they were... and then once we did know, we didn't know what we were going to do about them so what was there to tell, really?
But I'll let you in on the primary reason we didn't make a big announcement:
Papa was really enjoying not being sick.
He really enjoyed that, for awhile, people didn't look at him and think of cancer, that friends asked other questions besides "How are you feeling?", that he was treated normally and jovially and that, for awhile, he wasn't quite so delicate.
So, for his sake, raise your right hand.
Repeat after me: "I, (state your name), do solemnly swear to treat Jeryl Golden like the strong, positive, powerful man that he is. I swear to not tiptoe around him. I swear to ask him questions like "What do you think of this weather we're having?", "Gone to any Rangers games lately?" or "How are the grandkids"? I swear to give him bear hugs and slap him on the back and just be normal. This is my solemn vow."
We are hopeful that the upcoming treatment will ease his pain and that the medicine will do it's job to stifle these cancer cells and keep them from popping up anywhere else.
Ultimately, my friends, we are putting our trust in God.
Like Peter, I find myself saying "Where else would I go?"
There have been times in the past that my disappointment in my circumstances caused me to run away from God. In these last 5 weeks, however, dear ones, I'll be honest: I've run headlong into His arms. The bottom line is that our life here is but a breath, a vapor, an instant, and I resolve not to spend my time on earth angry with a God who, in His unending love, made the way for my rescue. Even if my father isn't healed, he is rescued.
We all are, dear ones, if only we believe that He is God and that He loves us.
As we've sung today, on this beautiful Easter Sunday...
"Now death, where is your sting?
Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated!
Forever He is glorified, Forever He is lifted high
Forever, He is risen, He is alive!"
The scripture that I'm clinging to is Psalm 66:12:
"We walked through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment."
One way or another, my friends, rich fulfillment, ultimate satisfaction, perfect healing...
That is our destination.
Thank you for praying with us. You've been an encouragement in powerful ways and we couldn't have walked this journey without you.