scan update.

It’s a strange feeling when you feel so healthy, so alive, so normal but then you’re given x-ray vision as you skim the scans of your body and see what is really going on.

My body is complicated and complex. Yesterday, Dr. Nick went over the CT scans of my lungs, at the same time comparing them to past scans. Some cancerous nodules have gotten smaller, but not by much. And one nodule has definitely grown, you can see it be a bit larger than the others.

Honestly, I don’t know how they can tell what is what on those black and white scans. In my vision, to me the air in my lungs is the black night sky, and the nodules are like tiny little white stars scattered throughout, making unknown and undefined constellations within me. And the blood vessels that also show up white look like shooting stars; make a wish. I  wish on them for good health. I wish even harder that the cancer will go away.

Although my scans weren’t the best of news, I’m used to receiving this kind of news. Is that bad or sad that I’m “used to” this? But really, I am so used to so many things within the cancer world. I think I sometimes shock people with the ease and casualness that I speak about treatment, radiation and procedures. But this is just my life. After 14 years of being on and off treatment, being a cancer patient is my normal more than not being a cancer patient. It’s just as normal for me to talk about cancer as it is for you to talk about your job. Because in a way, fighting cancer is my job. I write cancer, I fight cancer.

Upcoming next in my battle is a biopsy. I’m actually getting this procedure done on Thursday, Valentine’s Day. This biopsy isn’t being done to diagnose but instead to get my tumor DNA tested and see all of the gene sequencing and gene expressions. (I hope I am saying all of this correctly; I never was well-versed in the sciences as I am the humanities.) We are hoping to get this in-depth cellular information to make better and more informed decisions regarding future clinical trials and treatments. The latest in cancer treatment is immunotherapy. These immunotherapy clinical trials are typically targeting a specific gene, so knowing if I do or don’t have that gene will be a great asset in decision making on treatments. Please pray that this DNA testing will be beneficial to my family and I and for a good, quick recovery! I’m always shocked at how painful a biopsy can be post surgery. Even though they are taking a small sample of the tumor, they are still removing something that is attached to me, even though I think of cancer in my mind as this separate entity within me. So please pray for the pain to quiet quickly!

I have been thinking more about pain recently. Before this period of good energy, I was experiencing significant pain again in my chest, my neck and shoulders, and a short, sharp pain behind the knee. All over just felt this achingness that stayed as loyal as my shadow. As I was experiencing this period of pain, my reading just so happened to align and give me insight. I’ve been reading off and on the past year really Rose From Brier, a collection of letters by early 20th century missionary Amy Carmichael. My dear friend Hannah gave this book to me as she had heard that it was a book Amy wrote from one ill person to another ill person. As someone who experienced much physical pain herself, she reflects:

“What if every stroke of pain, or hour of weariness, or loneliness, or any other trial of flesh and spirit, could carry us a pulse-beat nearer to some other life, some life for which the ministry of prayer is needed—would it not be worthwhile to suffer? Ten thousand times yes. And surely it must be so, for the further we are drawn into the fellowship of Calvary [the cross] with our dear Lord, the tenderer we are toward others, the closer alongside do our spirits lie with them that are in bonds; as being ourselves also in the body. God never wastes His children’s pain.”

p. 128 of Rose From Brier

God never wastes His children’s pain.

Doesn’t your heart just stop but also soar at the same time in hearing this? The spirit of God within me affirms this, that God does see and care about my pain. He more than just notices; He knows and He Himself experienced more pain on the cross than I could ever bear. He never forgets that I have cancer, that I have limp, that pain seems to bloom for a moment within me, a destructively beautiful flower blooming within me, it’s petals of glass cutting and tearing into me as its unfolding. I imagine there are still more seeds of these flowers waiting to sprout and scorn me.

But, God never wastes His children’s pain. One day in the future, when my soul flies to Him, He will comfort me as I hurriedly run into His arms. He will explain the whys that aren’t necessary to always know in this lifetime. Even though there is pain, He is still good.

He is still—always and forever, past and preset—immensely good.

I am still in the long process of transforming my blog into a book. If you would like to hear a recent update, check out my Kickstarter. Thanks again to all who have donated! Your support—financial, thoughts, prayers—means everything! This upcoming week I am participating in a writer’s workshop through your donations. I am very excited about this and hope it helps propel even more momentum for me in the editing and writing process. Thanks all for your encouragement to take this next step of faith to craft a book!

scan day.

Today is a scan day.

And I surprisingly don’t feel all that anxious. Typically, my body will start to feel sick, weak and in pain just days before the scans:  a physical response to the anxiety I’m subconsciously  feeling. It always takes me a while to figure out what is wrong with me, and then I happen to look at the calendar, and BAM! before I even remembered my body knew scans were upcoming. Isn’t the body freakishly amazing like that?

Thank God that I haven’t been feeling anxiously and that instead I am happy, content, at peace. I have been reflecting on the past couple days actually how happy I have been. What a crazy difference! Instead of anxiety, peace. Instead of worry, joy. He is so true to his promises as we hand over our worries, He exchanges it for peace and joy. Why don’t I give them over more often when I know in my heart, knowledge and experience for this promise to be true? I am so fickle and forgetful.

I’ve been so grateful for the energy I’ve been having. So different state of body and mind compared to this past weekend, where just days ago I was at the ER and had an overnight hospital stay for fevers and low blood counts, low life energy. I feel like I am finally starting to understand when my body needs rest (not always, because that is how I ended up in the ER probably) but I am understanding more and listening more and agreeing more instead of disagreeing and going defiantly against my own self, my own flesh and blood. And sometimes you just have to know when it’s appropriate to “push it.” Without this pushing, this dragging of my body at times, I would miss out so much of life, of events, of moments great and small like celebrating a friend’s engagement to going out to eat dinner with my husband. Sometimes need that push, that boost, that pep talk to take those small steps towards life instead of laying in the midst of despair and sadness on our mattresses.

I ask the Spirit often for that push, that boost, that pep talk. I often also ask Josh, and to help me as a check and balance system of whether I should get out and go or stay in and rest. Because I want to be there for the big things and the small things. I want to be healthy enough to walk my fur baby Wylie and attend birthday dinners and weddings. And I don’t want to just be a presence there, foggy consciousness from chemo brain but I want to engage and have a light through the fog. Sometimes that light is dimmer than other times and sometimes its so bright that I forget that I am sick, that I have cancer.

So, today I’m living before scans. I’m running errands and playing with Wylie. I’m enjoying the bright sunny cold of February. I’m reading from my devotional hymns and prayer journaling gratitude and requests. These scans might be a “pause” from life, but no matter their results, they aren’t going to keep me from living, no matter the tumor sizes and shapes that emerge from the imaging.

Please pray with me, my family and friends today for good scan news! This has been a rough chemotherapy on my body; I’ve received already several blood transfusions because of how much so. Please pray that it’s all been worth it! Thank you for your prayers, always!