One month ago today, Anne’s gynaecologist Dr. Garrib called us into his office and told us the bad news – a carcinoid tumour had been found in Anne’s appendix, with a metastasis in the pelvic wall. Over the next week, as we researched neuroendocrine tumours, it became clear that we would need to seek specialised treatment overseas, and we’d have to leave South Africa. We gave ourselves a month to wrap things up here – and today is the day we pack up and leave for the U.S.!
It is amazing the way the timing has turned out. We picked today as our departure date several weeks ago, before we even had all of our tests scheduled. As it turns out, we were able to have our last test on Thursday of last week, got results this Monday, submitted paperwork to Penn Global Medicine the same day, and have just today made payment and been accepted for diagnostics and treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Oh, and the results of that last test? They’re very encouraging. We’re still only cautiously optimistic – Anne has on-going symptoms that we still need to dig into – but the gallium scan did not reveal any tumours at all. Even her liver, where a previous scan had showed a “suspicious lesion,” appears to be clear. Whatever the explanation – false positives on a previous test, a false negative on the more accurate one, or a miraculous healing – we are so grateful to God for the news. It leaves open questions, but it’s the best news we could have hoped for.
And so we go with confidence that we’ve made the right decision and confidence that Anne will get the best care possible. But we’re leaving with heavy hearts. Every goodbye is a reminder of the dreams we’re letting go of – the just-blossoming friendships, the kids who would grow up with Samuel and Eleanor, the team that would lead the school into its next chapter, and on and on. It’s hard. It hurts. We just keep praying and trusting that the Lord is in charge and that He leads to what is best. But it still hurts.
Today that sadness is mostly a background throb, though – front and centre is the fact that we have only a few hours left to finish packing 14 pieces of luggage and 7 carry-on bags, and then to schlep all that and 5 adults and 2 toddlers to the airport! (Our dog Winston has already been sent to a kennel for a few days; he’ll fly next week and we’ll collect him in the U.S.) Please pray for grace and peace as we make the final push to go. We’re so blessed to have had an army of people willing and ready to help us here over these last few weeks and days, and to have an army of people in the U.S. ready to help as soon as we land, and an army around the world lifting us up in love and prayer. We don’t always get a chance to respond to all the messages we get, but we deeply appreciate each and every one of them. Thank you!
I have cancer.
Just writing those words…
It seems crazy. Silly. Fake and unreal. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I’ve said them in the last ten days…
To nurses, and hospital technicians. To close friends. To my parents. To members of the church and school community here. To friends on the other side of the world. To my hairdresser. To strangers. To my children.
It feels like they belong to someone else.
But they belong to me now. I have cancer. Continue reading “On the shock and the blessings”
I’m at the hospital this morning, waiting for another test, and I’m reviewing the literally hundreds of responses we have received to our news in the last 24 hours. It’s overwhelming, in the best way. It is so good to have the support and love of so many people around the world, to see and feel our village rally around us.
As we face moving again, and going to a new (for me) place, I am encouraged by these reflections on friendship from my nearest and dearest friend: Continue reading “Friendship”
Dear family and friends,
We are writing to you with an update on my (Anne’s) health. On April 18 I was diagnosed with an advanced form of a rare kind of cancer, called Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) cancer (sometimes also called carcinoid cancer). Continue reading “Anne has cancer”