Having Faith

What is faith?

As Christians, we talk about faith all the time.  We talk about putting our faith in Jesus.  We talk about having faith that things will work out, or that things will be OK, or get better.  Putting our faith in something intangible is hard.  I think lots of people like things that are concrete, that they can see or touch.  Looking ahead to the future is hard because it’s so uncertain.

As I go through this journey I just have to have faith that things will work out well for me.  That God will heal me.  Getting a cancer diagnosis is hard enough, but then when you ask (or are told) about prognosis and get told its a short amount of time – that is hard, really really hard.

I remember being in the hospital, for the purpose of expedited care, and getting the results of my PET scan much sooner than expected.  Getting results right away usually isn’t a good sign.  I remember getting the prognosis of 2 years, which is the average.  Imagine being about 25 weeks pregnant and being told you have 2 years to live.  Imagine thinking about not being there to see your little baby, who is still living inside you, grow up.  Imagine not being there for your other kids as well.  That is hard.

The prognosis changed for the better, but not the best after my latest PET scan.  Now I am getting a range of 1-5 years if nothing changes.  My oncologist said that had it been the liver that cleared up instead of my bones then the prognosis would be even better than the 1-5 year range.  Even a prognosis of 5 years is hard to take.

I have faith that God will continue to heal me, to keep me healthy despite all the chemo and treatment that I am facing.  I don’t have much control over the cancer anyway, so it is easy to put my faith in God and Jesus that they can take care of it.  I think a key part of the journey is to stay happy.  If a person has something to live for, to fight for, then the outcome will be better.  We can’t just be a passive player in the fight for our lives.  We need to take an active role, to research, to try new things, and to rely on God and Jesus.  Jesus can give us comfort in the most trying of times.  He can be our shield and protector.  It can be hard to find someone who understands your situation unless you know someone who has gone through this before (or is currently going through it).

Jesus DIED for us.  Think about that for a minute.  Jesus died for you.  He died for me.  He suffered many horrible things so that you and I could one day have freedom from sin.  So that someday we could be in the presence of God and away from sin, death, and all the nasty stuff that happens to us.  I have put my faith in Jesus, and having Him to cry out to is comforting.  He will listen, and not judge.  I don’t always get a response back, but I do feel better.  Sometimes I’ll hear a song that resonates with me, or maybe someone will say something.

I am blessed, though.  God has been good to me throughout this ordeal.  He has given me energy and strength.  I read and hear all the time about how chemo just wipes people out emotionally and physically.  God gives us many tools when we ask.  In my case using the ketogenic way of eating (I dislike calling it a diet) was one of the biggest ones.  I don’t know how much of it was God alone or God through keto, but I haven’t really had any days where I have been so exhausted that I couldn’t do anything.  That is a real blessing because I am responsible for taking care of children at home.  I also didn’t have significant problems with nausea, especially this second time around on chemo.

What is there to lose by putting your faith in God?

The biggest thing is the penalty of sin – death.  Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

I still have all of myself.  I’m still me.  I’m still in control, but my life is more Christ-focused than before.  I enjoy going to church and helping out with my kids’ Awana club, and other things.  And I’ve gained someone that I can yell at (if I wanted), whine to (if I wanted), and complain to (if I wanted), without feeling too bad about it.

Do I ask why I had to have cancer?  Not really…  I have started asking “how can I use this for Your glory, Lord?”  I want to use my journey to bring people to God.  I want people to see His love.  Even though I have cancer I am not angry at God.  It takes a lot to be able to honestly say that.  Early on in my journey I wanted to be able to give others hope, not just generally, but I wanted to be able to share how God has been so good to me.

On that note:

Romans 3:23 – “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Romans 6:23 – “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Romans 5:8 – “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Acts 16:31 – “Believe (trust) in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”

Do you want the peace of God in your life?  Think about your situation.  Think about how you have sinned and have offended and saddened God.  But also think about how God, like the loving father He is, has given you a “Get out of Hell free” card.  He loves you so much that he sent Jesus to die for you.  God wants you, he wants so much for you, but you have to receive the free gift that is His Son, Jesus.

If you want God in your life then:
1) Confess your sins (apologize sincerely for what you’ve done wrong)
2) Ask for forgiveness (be real, be sincere) and repent (stop doing the bad stuff)
3) Ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior

One Year – 368 Days

June 25th, 2018

This is the day I met with two oncologists.  One was a surgical oncologist, and the other a medical oncologist.  At this meeting no one knew the extent of the spread of the cancer, but I was still meeting with the surgical oncologist because the plan was going to entail chemo, followed by surgery and radiation.  To expedite things we planned a hospital admission for July 2nd.  That way the tests could be done quickly without having to wait for appointments.  The stay was expected to be only a day or two, but that’s not how it happened, because of what was seen on the PET scan.

One Year – 365 Days

JUNE 22nd

It has been one year since my initial diagnosis.  By initial I mean the diagnosis I coaxed out of the NP over the phone.  She had called and asked me to come in because she wanted to discuss the results of the biopsy I’d had.  I told her it wasn’t possible to come in (hubby at work, and kids at home).  I finally got her to tell me over the phone, and she said it was: carcinoma (cancer).  She told me that she had already arranged an appointment for me at the Cancer Center the following Monday (she called on a Friday).

Monday the 25th would start my official journey as a newly diagnosed cancer patient.  More to come on the 25th, as I reflect back on that day and the weeks that were to come.

 

White Cells

Before my diagnosis, really, before treatment started, my white cell count was pretty good.  Once chemo started, my white cell count started dropping, which was to be expected.  Once the first round of chemo was over my white count rebounded.  Once I started medication it started going down again.  When I started taking 4Life Transfer Factor my white count started going up!  My oncologist is very surprised and pleased!

Hair loss … again

I was really hoping it wouldn’t happen because my oncologist said there was only about a 40% chance of hair loss on the chemo that I’m taking.  However, when I looked it up online, several websites said that nearly 100% of people lost their hair.  I’ve definitely lost a good deal.  I don’t know if it will all come out, or if it will have just “thinned” a lot.  I’m a little sad about it, and I know my son is (he doesn’t like the idea that I’m losing my hair).  I don’t like how I look without hair, and I don’t really like having to wear a scarf.  Some hats are OK…but I’d really rather just have hair.  I’m about to start my 2nd cycle so, if all goes well and I don’t need more chemo after this then I’m hoping to have some good hair growth by October or so, maybe by September.

Honestly though, if hair loss is my biggest side-effect of chemo I’ll take it.  I’ve been blessed to not have the nausea or fatigue that so many people complain about.  I’ve read there are ways to possibly not have hair loss, but it involves cooling caps that need to be worn several hours before, during, and after chemo.  And not many places have them, and they are expensive…and also rumored to not really work (although some people insist they do).

Liver Biopsy

Had my liver biopsy today. Sedation was fairly light, but I was very relaxed, could have fallen asleep. I’m just a bit sore, but it’s not too bad at all, not enough to need any pain meds. I’m just cooling my heels here in recovery for about 1½ hours.  At least I have my computer, so I can watch Netflix while I wait to get the OK to sit up.  I also have to wait to drink anything.  Since I normally only eat at supper time, waiting to eat isn’t a problem for me.

Day 2, Cycle 1, Round 2

Today was Day 2, Cycle 1, round 2 of chemo. Today I did not have dexamethasone on my pre-meds list.
I’m feeling well (just a bit tired, but that might be from the busy weekend), and am not having any issues with nausea or heartburn (the dexamethasone treats those).

I did not do a BG/BK reading before chemo.
After chemo:
T30: BG 84, BK 1.3, GKI 3.59
T3h: BG 84, BK 1.1, GKI 4.24

I must say that I’m happy with my glucose being low, as compared to last week, but wish my ketones were higher. I think I’m gonna take some MCT oil and see how I’m doing later. I’m feeling a bit cold, but the house is around 73* right now (usually 74/75).

For comparison (last week):

My last reading before eating, at about 47hrs fasted:
BG 120, BK 3.9 = GKI 1.7

I had hoped to get closer to 1, but I think this was due to the Decadron. I’d ideally like to be able to have the chemo without the steroids, as I want to keep BG low.

ETA: T60: BG 121, BK 2.6 = GKI 2.58
ETA T120 BG 108, BK 1.8 = GKI 3.33

Prayer

As I sit here getting my 2nd chemo infusion (day 2, cycle 1) I am thinking about my situation.  On Sunday I asked for prayer from a visiting pastor, and one of our church’s missionaries.  He prayed that the cancer be removed from my body and that healing would occur.

I can tell you that it is VERY hard to have faith, but I still do.  I have faith because we have a good God.  My next PET scan will be in about 3 months.  I have faith that the cancer will be gone someday, and that I will be free of it, and that I will be able to enjoy life with my husband and kids.