Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Stage 4 Kidney Cancer

 The last year and a half has been the hardest time of my once uneventful life.

  On October 29th, 2012, I sat in my dining room with my family and listened as my dad told us he had kidney cancer. Small cell renal carcinoma- which had spread to multiple parts of his body, thus making it stage 4. I remember tearing up but being too stunned to cry. I kept thinking it wasn't real. My life had always been easy. I grew up in a wonderful loving, Christian home and hadn't gone through a single gut wrenching event in my life...until then. My first response was a million questions. One of the hard parts about cancer is that there aren't a lot of answers. I had a good cry within a day or so thinking about the horrible possibilities ahead of us. I went through moments of great hope and faith and moments of anger and just not understanding why. It was the beginning of quite a long road.

   From there it was decided that dad needed surgery to remove the left kidney, the source of the cancer. O Nov. 29th, we spend an anxious day of waiting, but thankfully all went well in that surgery. After recovery and radiation, the doctors said dad needed a second surgery to remove a mass from his spine and to rebuild the surrounding area. So on February 19th we gathered again for another scary day with a longer surgery ending in the ICU for the night. Having never had a loved one go through major surgery, seeing my dad all hooked up, pale, and under anesthesia was hard- both times. However, the surgeon was very pleased again and after several weeks of recovery, dad was mostly back to himself. All was going well, but the long road had really just begun.

    After further scans and appointments (which feel like they take forever to get results from!), the doctors decided chemo was the next step. I have yet to mention how skinny my dad started out being...and by now he weighed less than me! Appetite, immune system, and digestion were all big concerns as well. Without a functioning body, you can't respond well to harsh treatments like chemo. My parents found a great naturalistic doctor to partner with in these areas. Chemo began in late spring. The lower dosage dad was given luckily kept him from feeling very sick. After 12 weeks of chemo and weeks of more appointments and scans, the results were not what we wanted. The cancer (now small spots in the liver, lungs, and pelvic muscle wall) had grown. Up to this point it was definitely scary, but it had been headed in the right direction. Personally, I was pretty upset and just frustrated at not knowing what to do next so this didn't happen again. This was a low point for me.

    Next, dad was put on a different pill called 'targeted therapy', which is essentially a new medicine similar to chemo that targets only the cancer cells instead of harming all of the cells it encounters. Another 12-14 weeks of waiting and praying that this would work passed. As the next scans approached I worried a lot about what we'd see. I tried not to be pessimistic, but it was hard. I don't like not knowing and not being in control. ;) Results were in...and the spots had SHRUNK!! Praise the Lord! We were overjoyed! Since last fall dad has been on this same targeted therapy med. We got another round of results in May (again, ball of nerves!), which showed less progress, but even the word 'stable' is a praise! 
    The current status of my dad is that he is feeling well and will continue on this same pill for  several months to come. Thankfully it is an long term option if needed. I am still a mix of emotions. I am thrilled that my dad's body is fighting this cancer and that over 90% of the original masses are gone! However, I do wish we were at the end of this battle. It's hard not knowing when the end will be and what that will look like. We pray daily for complete healing, but ultimately we are not in control.

(If you don't want to read through my long-windedness, start here!)

   You might be asking why I am just now writing this. A few reasons. At first I wasn't ready for the world to know what my family was going through. It seemed too heavy to put out there I guess. Then after months passed, I felt like I couldn't start in the middle of his journey, so I just didn't tell everyone. So what changed now? Me.
   A wise co-worker of mine told me bluntly, "Your dad has cancer so you can share Christ and change lives." Wow- I wasn't doing that very well. My closest confidants are mostly believers. So how was I sharing my story beyond that? I had thought that social media was too surface level for my story. However, I was wrong. It is a tool that I am praying God uses to show how He has worked in my life.

   I am sad to say I haven't praised the Lord throughout this entire journey. And yes, it is easier to say I'm praising God now that we are in a good place. But, I am praying with all my heart that if this story doesn't end like I want it to, I will still praise God. I have grown a lot this last year and a half. I have learned so much about my God & that His plan for me is perfect. All that He does is for His glory. So if just 1 person is changed because of me or my family, then it's a success.

   Unlike me, my mom and dad have had this viewpoint from day one. I always knew I had great parents, but now I can say I have the most amazing parents who's whole life is given to Christ. Seeing them walk this road with complete faith, peace, joy, and confidence in whatever may come has been such an example to me. They are changing lives because of their story. I just hope to do the same. I pray that this story has done just that for someone. I won't pretend to be good at sharing my faith. It's uncomfortable and scary and could hurt feelings. But I am trying! That is the #1 reason for my blog.

If you don't know my God, I would love to tell you more. May my life bring Him glory!


1 comment:

  1. Precious words and I am praying that your words will be just what someone needs to hear in their hard places in life--or in the good times. God is always with us and your story reminds us well!