Not much to report really. Dennis has started Physical Therapy to help with some of the weakness he has on his right side. It affects the way he walks and impacts things like being able to get up easily. He says the things the PT person has shown him are helping. What is strange is that some days are more challenging than others and there is no way to predict what impacts that.
Dennis is doing OK with this new treatment. It is not fun lugging around the device that weighs about 12 lbs. if he has two batteries with him and just having it on all the time can be very discouraging. I’ve gotten pretty good at changing the arrays/electrodes that are part of Dennis’ current therapy. A friend of ours has also learned how to do them in case I need to be away. We need to do this about every three days. The company downloads data once a month that lets them know how much he is using the device. The goal is a minimum of 18 hours a day. Dennis’s first report was a 92% compliance rate. This is exceptional. When his doctor’s office got the report, the nurse actually called Dennis to congratulate him. Most people don’t hit those kinds of numbers but unless he is in the shower, Dennis keeps it going. You never know when a cell is going to divide so the more you have it on, the more likely it is to destroy a dividing cell. They have told us that the MRI at the end of the month will not tell us a lot. In fact, the first one after starting this treatment often shows pseudo-progression.
Maybe because it is the first of the year, I find myself thinking back over the previous year, or maybe it is hearing Brooklyn pray each night and say, “Thank you Jesus that Daddy is still with us,” but recently, I have been thinking about where we were two years ago and how very different life is for us now. My heart just yearns for life as it was then or at least how it was in those first few months of family life with Brooklyn before CANCER.
January 2012 - We were eagerly, and not so patiently, waiting for the final piece of paper from China that would allow us to travel and go complete Brooklyn’s adoption. We were excited and fearful at the same time. We knew our life was about to change in dramatic ways. At the same time, we were busy with the day-to-days of life – work, church, social events – just a normal life. Looking back, it was a good time. It seemed like we would never get to China but learned and grew during those months waiting for Brooklyn. I learned a lot about waiting on God’s timing and trusting Him. Little did I know that this was part of the preparation God was putting me through in order to be ready for what was ahead.
March 2012 – She was finally ours! After a year of waiting and doing mounds of paperwork, she was our daughter. We loved this time. We have such fond memories of those early days as a family. Our time in China went so quickly. As we look back now at the pictures of those early days, it is fun to hear Brooklyn tell us about what she was thinking and feeling during those days. When we got home, our lives were so different as a family of three than they were as a family of two. Our days were filled with little girl giggles, exploring parks, learning to communicate with each other, kindergarten… One of my favorite parts of the day was when Dennis would get home from work and he and Brooklyn would be playing together. Oh, the joy and giggles from a little girl who finally had a daddy! It was a good time.
June 8, 2012 – And then one word – CANCER – changed everything. I hate that word. It has affected us in so many ways. Dennis has not driven since this word entered our lives. He hasn’t been able to work. It saps his strength. It puts a huge question mark over every aspect of our future. Brooklyn doesn’t have the daddy who can pick her up and carry her to bed on his shoulders. She thanks God that Daddy is still here. She asks questions about what will happen to her if daddy dies – wondering if she will be sent back to China. I find myself stretched to my limit as I attempt to be a wife, mother, employee, care coordinator, family driver…
Yes, CANCER changes everything. It is teaching us to cherish each day. I know I say that a lot and frankly, forget about it in the day-to-day of just getting by, but it is so true. We have today and can either enjoy it or waste it. I’ll admit that some days I am too exhausted and too stretched to slow down, be patient, concentrate on what is happening at the moment and enjoy; to take the time to play a game of hide and seek, to just talk with Dennis and share time with him, or just relax. Often I need to force myself to let go of all the stress and responsibilities and try to relax and be the wife and mom I want to be. To cherish the time I have with Dennis and the time I have with an eight year old who I know will not be a “little girl” much longer.
CANCER teaches us that today is not all there is…much more awaits and this is just the preparation. Dennis and I have both been reading Heaven and it has helped me to see more clearly that our lives here are just one small part of our existence. What awaits us is far greater. Today prepares us for eternity. This preparation right now is hard. If I could turn back the clock and live in the time before CANCER, I most certainly would but at the same time, that would mean I would miss out on all that God has done in my heart during this time. He has taught me so much about trusting Him in the long-term but also trusting Him when just making it through the next five minutes seems impossible. He continues to teach me to wait. I’m not great at this but I’m learning. Each new turn in this journey is a waiting game. We wait to hear results of MRIs, we wait to see if a current treatment is working, we wait to see if symptoms come or go and mostly we wait to see if Dennis will get a miracle and beat this awful cancer. I’m learning to let go. I can’t fix this. That has been the hardest for me. I want to do something – anything – to just make this better. I can’t. It is not in my hands. But I can trust the One who holds this all in His loving hands.
CANCER also teaches us that our friends are loving, caring, generous and unselfish people who over and over again give of themselves. We always have been blessed with friends to spend our lives with but the depth of those friendships have been manifest in the last 18 months. On so many occasions they have come along side of us to help when we did not think we could do one more thing. We are indeed blessed.
Yes, CANCER changes everything and yes, I wish it had never happened but without it, we would never have seen God work in our hearts and lives in the way that we have during this season of life.
What 2014 holds in store for us is unknown as it is for everyone. As I write this, I can’t help but wonder about what lies ahead but I can honestly say that I know God has already planned it and will walk with us no matter what it holds. We have seen His provision in the past and trust Him for the future.
Dennis has an MRI on January 31. Pray for our peace as we head toward this date. We both find the days leading up to these too be very stressful.
Pray for Dennis walking and balance issues as well as his overall stamina.
Pray for me to focus on what is most important and to slow down, be patient and enjoy our time together as a family.