One of my favorite hymns is called Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. The melody is infectious and the lyrics have a way of lifting low hearts. My favorite phrase in the song asks the hearer to "ponder anew what the Almighty can do." When is the last time you pondered freshly what our mighty Papa can do? No, really - I want you to ask yourself that question. Has it been an hour, a day, a week, a month? Has it been a year? Has it been tens of years? Answer the question honestly. How long has it been? If it has been too long - your heart will tell you - then do it now before you read another word of this post. He deserves the praise it will create in your heart, and the vitality of your faith depends on you doing it frequently.
Now, let me tell you about my day. As you know, I was scheduled to see the surgeon today regarding the changing appearance of my tongue and my continually increasing pain. Up to this point, the surgeons, and everyone involved really, have been adamant that surgery is my best option offering the highest cure rate and the lowest amount of potential side effects. Today, their opinions changed. After additional recent history was given and a quick exam performed, Patti McCarver, N.P. and Dr. Sinard let us know that they believe the cancer is much larger than what was originally estimated by exam and CT. Dr. Sinard believes that the cancer now extends to the middle of my tongue and probably involves the posterior base (back), as well. As a result, surgery is no longer considered first-line therapy, because it would involve taking a much larger portion of my tongue and decrease my quality of life tremendously.
It is my understanding that they do not normally see such rapid progression, but it did not leave them in shock either. It does happen. Perhaps the tumor was larger than my CT on 5/8/08 revealed or it might have just grown rapidly during the weeks since. Either way, Dr. Sinard called it relentless. He then explained that we need to change the treatment plan to begin with 9 weeks of chemotherapy. If I respond well to the chemotherapy (the tumor shrinks considerably), the theory is that additional chemotherapy with concurrent radiation would be successful. If the tumor does not shrink considerably with the initial chemotherapy, then they would have to reevaluate whether surgery or chemoradiation would be the best way to finish the treatment. I was rushed over to the cancer center where blood was drawn, and I was prepared for my first chemotherapy treatment tomorrow morning at 7:30 am.
I'm sure you wonder how I feel about all of this. Today, Becky let me read from Streams in the Desert, a devotional that one of her coworkers gave her recently. It dealt with Jacob's wrestling away of the blessing. It made the point that Jacob didn't really win the blessing by overpowering, but by clinging to - he simply would not let go, holding on until he won. The writer's assertion is that to win the victory we must "... cease our struggling ... give up our own will and throw our arms around our Father's neck in clinging faith." And, that is the answer to how I feel about all of this. I don't need to wrestle with God for a blessing. He already wants to bless me (and you). All I have to do is cling. Clinging isn't easy, but I'm ready and willing to give it my best.
You can start to ask all kinds of "what if" questions. Please don't do that. It will only make you crazy, and it won't change a thing about my health. Like I've said many times, God knew this day would come before he formed me in my mother's womb, and His grace is sufficient for every moment it and all future days contain. I will address one of those questions specifically, though. You might ask yourself, "What if they had done surgery immediately?" There is a good possibility that they still would have found a much larger tumor than expected, which would have resulted in them taking a much larger portion of my tongue than I was expecting. Can you imagine waking up to that news? Don't ask "what if" questions. In life, we only have this moment, so "what if" never gets to play - the past is gone and tomorrow has not been promised.
At this point, I won't speculate a lot about what the future holds or what I will decide if presented with various treatment options. Right now, let's just deal with right now.
There is so much more in my head and heart, but I am also exhausted. I'll try to write again tomorrow. Until then, join me in pondering and clinging.