Cancer sucks. It’s invasive, it’s aggressive, it’s relentless, it has a mind of its own, it comes to destroy. I personally am surrounded by cancer and have been deeply entrenched in it this past year. I constantly have people asking me to pray for their friends because they have been diagnosed with cancer. My prayer list is long and it is growing longer every day.
I love my dad and my dad has cancer. A nasty and mean cancer. We have had many ups and downs during this walk. Many lab tests, scans, hospital visits, a blood transfusion, telemedicine calls that were too many to count. We have consulted with specialists, surgeons, radiation specialists, and so on. Cancer consumes our lives right now.
As a gratitude coach there are some days that I struggle with this walk. I am the “eternal optimist” some say but today is a tough day. Twice my dad has received weeks of chemo infusions that helped shrink the cancer and even remove it from one of his organs. The problem was his quality of life was awful. He was weak without an appetite, he couldn’t touch cold objects, he developed neuropathy and couldn’t feel his feet. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
I prayed for God to take the cancer away, to please gift my dad a miracle. This wasn’t God’s plan at this time. The cancer is still here but God did send a miracle for a short time. My dad has a BRCA 2 mutation which only 3-7% of pancreatic cancer patients have. This allowed my dad to take a new oral chemo that showed promise to slow or halt the progression of the cancer. While we didn’t get that result, some of my dad’s tumors shrunk while others grew significantly larger. Where is the miracle you may ask? The miracle was my dad was having a pretty good quality of life while on this drug. He felt pretty good every day. He was weak and anemic which was a known side effect but it was better than the other chemo side effects he had with the infusion treatments. My dad is no longer able to take this drug and going back on chemo infusions because we didn’t get the results we had hoped for.
Where are the blessings in this situation? As someone who absolutely trusts God and His will I found many. It has been over 1 year since my dad’s diagnosis, most patients live 3-6 months. My dad had a good friend that was diagnoses a few month after my dad was that is no longer with us. Rest in peace Gary Blakely.
Blessing, my dad has a genetic mutation so he could take the drug that allowed him to feel “pretty” good since March. This means almost 4 months of not being bedridden or battling cold/hot spells, or falling and not being able to get up and so many more detrimental things.
Blessing, My husband and I live 20 minutes from my parents and have a flexible schedule so I go to visit my dad and my mom often for coffee. Early in this cancer walk my dad and I were able to have a discussion about the end of life. He told me he was not afraid to die and was at peace with it. He said it would be harder on our family than on him. This assured me of his faith and knowledge of eternal life.
Other blessings include his insurance offsetting so much of the medical costs, as well as two medical teams working with him (one at MD Anderson and one at UT Southwestern), my mom is still living so he has her every day. My daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live 25 minutes from my parents so they can visit my dad and now we have another baby on the way. I cook meals for my dad to change up his diet so that warms my heart knowing that he enjoys this. I don’t know how many pounds of chicken salad I have made in the last year for him.
I have learned much information about pancreatic cancer and I am educating others for better treatment options and how to locate cancer centers. I was in my friend’s coffee shop one day and I overheard someone say her sister was just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I interrupted the conversation to start spewing everything I knew about the importance of genetic testing her sister and the tumor. That conversation would have floated right over me before, but now God perks my ears up when I can help someone on this journey.
I also have so many wonderful friends texting me and checking on my dad. My support team is amazing unlike no other. My husband comforts me in those dark, unsure moments. He is always there to help my dad with things he can no longer do yet still needs to have done. I do my mom’s haircuts and hair color at their home so dad isn’t left alone. I was a hairdresser in my younger days so this skill comes in handy now. It’s like God knew our family needed to be brought closer together to show our faith to God and each other.
I have blogged many time that when I need to feel God near me I somehow see the number eleven. It may be a license plate, the time, or even the weight of my produce. As I was finishing this blog I saw this. I am also including my email count on my phone that just happened as well.
My tears are currently dry because I am counting my blessings and trusting in God to handle this walk. He is always with us and going before us when we have faith. I don’t know where this new round of chemotherapy will take us, what results we will get but I know we are better walking with God and breathing in His goodness and blessings in every situation. Our Heavenly Father is comforting me that this is not the end for my dad.
Please pray for my dad as I am always praying for each of you. All my love and gratitude-LoLo