Finding Normal



Just the other day I was driving home from taking James to do his chores for the farmer he works for, when I noticed that some of the leaves on the bushes that stand alongside of the country road were turning red.  I thought that odd that they were turning colors –already – in the middle of summer.  Then it hit me – that summer has just about ended and fall is ready to begin.

I keep forgetting that.

To me, it feels like summer has just started. 

I feel like I have lost the entire summer.

Taken Spring '14

In the spring Rob and I had been busy planning out our summer.  There was the camping trip that we were going to get in this year.  This would be the year that we would go camping all together as a family.  There were the hikes that we had planned up South Mountain.  Several weekends were set aside so  we could spend time as a family hiking and packing picnic lunches.  Then there was the trip to the ocean.  Together as a family we would see the water together and take it all in.  There was the garden we were going to plant and tomatoes that we would harvest come fall to can and have for the winter months.

Then we heard the word ‘CANCER’.

Life seemed to stop. 

My computer time was not looking through Pinterest to get ideas on how to pack the car, or awesome camping meals, or looking for pictures of the ocean.  I spent my times in front of the screen researching types of cancer and options for treatments.  Then there was the garden plot that was dug up fertilized and ready for the tomato plants that has turned out to be very fertile soil this year for a wide variety of weeds .  I look out my front window and some very healthy, hearty and thick garden of weeds growing in the garden area!
Instead of my summer unfolding the way we had planned, my summer has been divided up into segments:    waiting for a week to go by so we can get in to see the doctor for the appointment, waiting for the date for the biopsy, and another week for the results to get back. This has been the summer that I have waited.  Week by week – test by test – appointment by appointment - and without realizing it time was going by while I was waiting. 

Getting Ready to start First Grade!


With the cancer surgery behind us, life is starting to take on a normal feel.   The past few weeks I have felt completely and totally drained.  It has been hard to even put to words an explanation for my thoughts and feeling.  On one side I am overjoyed that Rob’s surgery turned out the way that it did and that we saw God work in a wonderful way; on the other hand I find my brain filing away all that has happened in the past several weeks and trying to find a new sense of balance and order in our everyday lives. 

This past weekend I came down with a cold.  God sometimes brings sickness to us to help us be able to have time to think and to rest.  I have rested – deeply rested (and it has been just what I needed).  I have had time to regroup myself emotionally and mentally.  On Sunday, I was still not feeling well and stayed home from church to rest and cough in private by myself; and not share my germs with the rest of the congregation.  The house was so quiet and it was wonderful to sit on the porch in my robe and PJ’s and just read my Bible and talk to the Lord.  Again, the Great Physician came and poured out His medication on my heart and soul and brought a real sense of balance to my thoughts.  It was wonderful!

So, I have wrapped my mind around the fact that summer has gone – and it has been one of the most eventful and growing summers we have had as a family.  Fall is here and with it the new school year needs to take shape and be planned out.  We will start next week – (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise).  I am busy getting our school schedules figured out. *** On a funny note, I took a few moments to take a quiz on Facebook to see how much of a control freak I am – and found that I passed that test with an “A” – if they were giving letter grades for the quiz scores.  Hmm, that explains the notebook that is being assembled for our new fall schedule containing detailed lists of all the rooms that will be cleaned, when they will be cleaned and how they will be cleaned.  It will also explain why the school schedule will be color coded for each child.   I am getting just a little bit excited to start school; and it is not because I like to control  organize things!  I was not sure if I would be able to find it in me to get enthusiastic about the new school year; but it has and is happening!  

Abbey treated me to a Manicure/ Pedicure and Sweet Frog Treat

It feels good to finally feel like we are getting back to a normal again. Yes, we still have Rob's radiation treatment coming up - and that will make things different again for a while; but life is starting to feel 'even'.   I have had time to look through Pinterest to figure out how to store the kid’s boots on the front porch, have looked up some homestead blogs that have brought about ideas that I would like to try with next year’s garden.  I had James order me some chickens and have been busy looking at coops and types of feed I will need – and picking out names for my girls.    Slowly, it is feeling good to getting back to living again.  

 God is so good! 

The Great Physician



Yesterday we met with the surgeon to discuss the findings in the pathology report from Rob’s cancer surgery two weeks ago.  We did not know for sure what we would be told and what the future plans would be in regards to the cancer.  Needless to say, the trip to Charlotte was rather quiet and we were busy thinking about the appointment.

When the doctor came in she looked at Rob’s incision and said it looked fantastic.  Everything is healing well and we have had no complications there.  Praise the Lord!

She then pulled out her swivel doctor’s chair, opened up her notes and started shaking her head.  She said that the pathology reports were odd and apologized that so much of the information that we have been given about his tumor and neck have been confusing.  She then went on to explain and brought light to why we were dealing with so much conflicting information.

First of all there were two different types of cancer on the thyroid.  There was the tumor that we all knew (and could clearly see was there); but there was a small tumor on the other side of the thyroid that turned out to be cancer – and a different type of cancer all together than the tumor.  She said she was able to remove all of that and feels that we got all of that cancer.  (Papillary Cancer – the most common and easily treatable thyroid cancer there is.) She also said that she feels we will not need to go in for another surgery to remove lymph nodes in the neck because the looked good during the surgery and the biopsy did not show any concern with the lymph nodes.   Praise the Lord!

Then she shook her head again and said, “Now we can talk about the tumor.”  The tumor was a Hurthel Cell Carcinoma (one of the rarest forms of thyroid cancer).  She said it was the oddest thing that she has ever seen.  The tumor had lost it’s source of blood supply and was dying by the time she got in to remove it.  She said that as a doctor this just ‘does not make sense’ because they had biopsied it only four weeks before the surgery and had found a solid mass (so solid that they had to use larger needles to penetrate the mass to get a sample of it for a biopsy).    I asked her what would cause there to be a loss of blood supply to a tumor.  She replied that she had no idea it just did not make sense.  She went on to explain that many many pathologist had looked at his biopsies and studied them.  For two reasons – this type of cancer is not often seen – and a solid mass of a tumor does not usually loose its blood supply and die within a month.  Praise the Lord!

God is a great God.  We KNOW this is HIS doing.  We are rejoicing in His mercy and goodness to us!
We still have decisions to make as far as treatment goes to make sure that this has not spread.(Hurthel Cell Cancer does have a tendency to spread and be a more aggressive cancer.)  We also will need to monitor his blood work, as most all cancer patients do, to make sure we are not seeing signs of the cancer coming back or reoccurring.  We also are still getting the dosage for his thyroid medication adjusted to where he needs it to be.  So those are all still matters of prayer and decision for us at this time.


From the moment we heard the word cancer we determined that we wanted God to be the focus of this – not the cancer. Rob has had a peace going through this that has amazed me.  Truly His trust has been in the Lord.  It has been amazing to watch how solid Rob’s faith is in His God.   For me, there have been times when this has been difficult.  It is so easy to see the here and now and lose sight of God.  I also have learned that dependence upon God is a choice.  I must choose to depend upon Him for each situation – and EVERY TIME He is faithful to give the strength and grace to go through the day ahead of me.  God has grown my faith in Him during these past couple of months.   God has become so big to us during this time; and cancer has been the avenue that has allowed God to be magnified in our eyes.  God is good all the time.  I must be honest that yesterday while I was sitting in the doctor’s office my first thoughts were of disappointment that we *still* did not know if the cancer has spread.  When we got in the car Rob looked at me and asked me how I was feeling about the doctor appointment.  I told him I was disappointed that we did not have more answers.  He started laughing and told me I was failing to rejoice in what we did know.  At that moment – cancer was bigger than my God.  I sat there in silence and realized that he was right.  God has done a wonderful thing for us in this – and *WE* are rejoicing today in His goodness to us. I can not explain how wonderful it was to sit the kids down last night and tell them the news from our doctor's appointment.  To watch their eyes grow big as we told them about the tumor loosing it's blood supply and to see them connect the dots and realize that God had done something wonderful.  Truly last night's conversation with them will forever be etched in the gallery of my mind and cherished forever.  Last night I got to see cancer build the faith of my children in a God that can do more than we can think or imagine!  Praise the Lord! 


We know SO many have prayed and have held us up in prayers.  God has answered your prayers!  A solid mass of a tumor lost it’s blood supply and was dead in four weeks time because God heard the prayers of so many and chose to answer in this way.  He is so good!  He truly is the Great Physician!  We have been safe in His care this entire time and will continue to receive the best health care from Him in the days ahead.  God does not practice medicine – He truly is the best ‘doctor’ we could have.  Thank you for praying.  

 

"Be still and know that I am God.."

Update on Rob's Health





It has been almost two months since we noticed the tumor on the side of Rob’s neck.  What a couple of months this has been!  Many have asked for an update and so I will do my best to bring everyone up to date - as to where we are at now.   I would like to say first of all how much it means to us to know so many are praying!  Knowing that so many of you are going to God on our behalf has brought great comfort and we know God has walked through these difficult weeks with us.  Thank you so much for your love, concern and prayers for us!

When we went into the first surgeon to get the results from the first biopsy that they did on the tumor we were told that Rob had cancer and that it was either Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer or Medullary Thyroid Cancer (two terms we had never heard of before that day).  The surgeon told us that she was not equipped to handle the care that Rob would need and that he needed a surgeon that could work with a team approach.  She also pulled strings to get us into see an endocrine surgeon that had a waiting list way out past October.  She got us in to see her the next day.  She was concerned – and that was of a concern to us too!  We went home and researched these two types of cancer.  We realized that if the cancer proved to be Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer we were very likely dealing with possibility that this could be the last year that we would be together as a family.  Talk about a paradigm shift! 

When we got into the surgeon the next day she said she had been reviewing the pathology reports - (they had sent them to three different pathologists).  The endocrine surgeon told us that she was 99.9% sure it was NOT Anaplastic Thyroid cancer and 99% sure it was Medullary Cancer.  The complications with the medullary cancer are that it spreads throughout the body and is only able to be stopped by removing the actual tumors that appear.  She told us that Rob would undergo blood tests every four months for the rest of his life to detect the C cell counts in the body.  When the C cell counts were elevated we would know that there was cancer growing somewhere in the body.  She then ordered blood work to measure his C cells to find out if we had cancer that had spread outside of the thyroid.  Before we left her office she did a biopsy on his Lymph nodes to see if the cancer had spread to the nodes in the neck.  She was concerned with what she saw on the ultrasound when she looked at the lymph nodes.  She scheduled surgery for four weeks out .
Two weeks before the surgery the surgeon called and said she had just received the blood test results and was shocked at what they were showing.  Rob’s C cells were not elevated – in fact his C Cell count was almost nonexistent.  She said that ruled out completely that the tumor was Medullary Cancer.  She said she could not believe what the tests had shown because she was sure that was what we were up against.  She also told us that all three pathologists were in disagreement with what they were finding through the biopsy.  The only thing that they agreed on was that they were finding Hurthel Cells in the tumor (another term that we had never heard of).  She told us that they only way for us to know what we were up against was to wait until she opened him up to see what she found, remove the tumor.  She said that with Hurthel Cells there is a 20% chance that it will be cancerous. 

We felt like we were on a bungee cord.  Two weeks before we had been told that Rob could be dying soon – and now we were told that there was more chance that it was NOT cancer.  We wanted answers but the only thing we could do was to wait for two more weeks until the surgery date came.  That was a very difficult time for our emotions. 

Last Friday finally got here and Rob was taken into surgery with the surgeon telling us that she would feel more comfortable telling us that we were looking at a 40% chance that the tumor was cancerous.  The pathologist had reviewed the biopsies again and felt the risk was greater than first expected. She also told me that she would check the lymph nodes; but that Hurthel Cell Cancer rarely moved into the lymph nodes.  For a second I was overwhelmed with joy – until she finished her sentence informing us that Hurthel Cell Carcinoma moves to the brain, the lungs or the bones.  (When she finished her sentence I was brought back to reality.)   I kissed Rob goodbye as they wheeled him into the operating room and went out to wait for the surgery to be completed.  It was a long wait and I am so thankful for the friends that came and sat with me during that time!  Thank you!    

Two hours later the surgeon talked with me in the consult room.  The tumor was “very large” but she was able to get it all out.  The other side of the thyroid had looked “sticky” and she removed the entire thyroid because it just did not look right (a decision we had made before the surgery to avoid them having to do surgery again to remove the other half of the thyroid if they found cancer).  The tumor had grown into the muscle of the neck causing her to have to remove that muscle.  She assured me it was not a muscle that he would miss now that the thyroid was gone.  She said she was concerned that the parathyroid glands looked “wrong” so she removed two of them .  She said that she might have taken three of glands – because she thought one was behind the muscle; but that he could live with one out of the four glands  if she did.  She said that she did not want to mess with the glands and have cancer spread to other parts of the neck if they were indeed cancerous.  She said that the lymph nodes looked good and she did not remove them because they did not look suspicious.    She said that it was of concern that the tumor was attached to the muscle – but we would not know anything until the biopsy results were back.  She told me she could guarantee me that we were not looking at Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer.  She then told me that she would think that we were looking at a 50% chance that the tumor was Cancerous and may have spread.  She assured me that she would call with the results of the pathology report as soon as she received them.

That was a week ago today.  We are still waiting and trusting that God has everything under control.  We still do not know what the future holds – but we did not really know that a year ago.  I will admit that every time the phone rings I brace myself before I look at the caller ID to see who is calling.  We could get a call that tells us that this trial is over – the tumor is gone and there is not cancer in Rob’s body.  We could get a call telling us that the tumor was cancerous and has spread; and we will be facing more decisions and more waiting time.  I feel like we are hanging between two extremes. 

Rob has had complete and total peace throughout this entire time.  If he has been anxious about any of this - I have not seen it.  I have felt anxious at time more than I can express in a blog post.  I have found God’s Word to offer me peace.  The Holy Spirit has brought calmness to my heart that has been amazing.  Focusing on the faithfulness of God has made me feel that my life is on sure footing.  Nothing is out of control and I can trust that everything is going to be OK - no matter what.  When my mind focuses on cancer or on the future -  there is anxiety.  When I focus on God  - there is peace. 



So we wait for the results and remind ourselves that our God is bigger than cancer and has our lives in His hand and in His control.  Thanks for praying for us!  God has been so close to us and we have come to know Him in a most personal way in the past eight weeks.  He is good – all the time. Rob is recovering well and we have not had any setbacks.  Today he went into work - he will just be doing paperwork and we will see how the day goes.  He was excited to get back to work.  He was getting a bit stir crazy here at the house.  :)  We will keep posting as we have information - thanks for your concern and prayers for us at this time.   We are blessed to have so many friends.  Thank you!