The Next Battle

My body is fighting a war, good cells against bad cells. It is being fought on multiple fronts.

There is the cancer. We learned that when I had my second surgery in July (to repair the anastomosis that was bleeding) they removed another microscopic tumor. Too small for the surgeons to see. Too small for the pathologists to see. Only under the microscope, going through cell by cell, did they discover it. This confirms what we and the medical team suspected and assumed: We will be fighting this war for the rest of my life, as tiny tumors sneakily grow. This doesn’t change our management plan; we will still wait and watch, carefully. There is no chemotherapy for my situation. No remission for this kind of cancer. So we will be always at the ready, vigilant and aware, to do what we can to keep it at bay.

Continue reading “The Next Battle”

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What Cancer Has Cost

Cancer has cost me.

My appendix, my ascending colon and half of my transverse colon, a portion of my small intestine. My gall bladder. My entire blood volume. My hair, though not all of it, cut to make it manageable, and falling out as the cancer takes its toll on my body. My curves, my body’s reserves, every last store of fat, iron, calcium, pound after pound until I hardly recognize my skeletal frame. Continue reading “What Cancer Has Cost”

Another Bump in the Road

As Anne mentioned in her last post, we were back at HUP today to find out the source of the abdominal pain and nausea she’s been having since Monday. They did a CT scan and discovered several small abscesses with fluid collections. They followed that up with an ultrasound that showed the collections to be tubo-ovarian abscesses, probably caused by exposure to bacteria from the surgery or from the insertion of the previous drains. This is a fairly rare type of abscess to have after a surgery like Anne’s, and the surgical team is working with the gynecology department to figure out the best way to deal with it. Unlike the last abscess they found, these ones do not seem to be reachable for drainage, so the plan for now is to admit Anne into the hospital and have antibiotics administered by IV here at the hospital for a few days, then re-evaluate based on whether the infections respond to the antibiotics.

It’s frustrating and tiring to have yet another complication; Anne’s surgeon says that he has never had another patient with this many complications after this kind of surgery. We’re learning to take it a day at a time, a moment at a time, but we’re not always great at it. I think we sometimes make it sound like we’ve got it all figured out. We don’t. We get grumpy at each other, annoyed at the odd unhelpful nurse, glum about all the setbacks. But we pray, and we read Scripture, and we turn to our friends, and we try to make each other laugh, and we let the Lord lift us up again. And tonight, we’re doing OK. God is still good, and we know we are loved.

Ongoing Recovery and Setbacks

My recovery from surgery has been marked by complications, slow progress, and some steps back as we move forward. Yesterday was a month since my surgery (the first one). This morning we are going back to the hospital with ongoing complications. We’re not sure what we’re dealing with and won’t know until we get some tests done and try to figure things out; however, we have a great team and are confident in their care.

We don’t know what today holds for us. We appreciate your prayers and we are grateful for your love, kindness and support.

Four years and a promise

Four years ago, Coleman took my hands, looked me in the eyes and promised to love me forever. He asked me to marry him, and I said yes, and he slipped a ring on my finger.

Today, he promised again to love me forever, and he slipped my wedding band and engagement ring back on my finger, the swelling in my hand finally come down, and my rings able to fit.

Coleman has upheld his promise, every day, through wonderful moments and terrible ones. These last weeks have been incredibly hard, harder than either of us imagined or were prepared for. He has cared for me through my suffering and suffered alongside me – in many ways I can barely imagine his suffering and think it might be greater. Watching the ones you love suffer is hard. 

The promise to love forever is a romantic one, made on a moonlight night in a beautiful garden. And it is made again and again in daily moments, as he changes my dressings and helps me dress, as he feeds me, and holds the bucket when I throw up, as he holds me steady to and from the car, back and forth to the hospital again and again and learns to drive my wheelchair, pushing through halls that have healed us and left us traumatized at the same time. It is chosen again and again when he gets up in the night to help me to the bathroom, when he brushes back my hair and washes my face, when he held my hands and prayed and prayed during long hospital nights, and as he whispered to me that it was okay to let go, that we all have limits, and having reached mine, it was okay to let go, and let Jesus carry me, through the suffering, or home to heaven, I could let go and rest in His arms.

It is a love that has sustained me and strengthened me in these last weeks and days. Yesterday, we returned to the hospital, and the last weight, the last anchor tethering me to the trauma endured in an effort to hold cancer at bay, a catheter drain, a tube inserted through my pelvis into my abdomen to drain out infected fluid built up post surgery, was finally, FINALLY, removed, and I wept for joy to have this chapter comes to a close.

It feels fitting then that this new chapter, this new day is an anniversary, a reminder of another new chapter we once started.

The promise to love forever is not a light one. It is heavy, a daily choice weighing on our hearts, burdening us to love the other, first, well, as God loves us.

And that’s the miracle. He loves me as Jesus does. The love of God is made real and tangible to me in the love of my husband; as Coleman chooses daily to love me, I feel Jesus come close. 

Three and a half years ago, Rev. Brad Heinrichs placed his hands on our heads as he blessed us during our wedding, as we were made husband and wife. That blessing and benediction is what I feel in Coleman’s daily love for me. The Lord’s hands on our heads, blessing us as we choose to live out the promise we made first four years ago: to love each other forever.