The last couple of weeks seem to have flown by. Still some ups and downs, some hard days, but most full of blessed peace. Here’s some highlights.
Last Thursday we had a virtual appointment with Dr. Thompson from the University. He said mostly the same as Dr. Senecal, but gave some more detailed information about the medications Jenney could take once the baby is born. He first gave us an idea of a BRAF targeting treatment that is about 80% effective, but isn’t very durable, in that it only works for a short time, and has a lot of side effects. Then he went over the immunotherapy option (NUMO and IPPI mix) that is about 60% effective and has a much higher durability. He suggested we start with immunotherapy and if that stops working, we could go to the other option, even switching back and forth if necessary. After all the research we’ve done about changing to a keto diet, cutting out sugars which cancer feeds on, and how immunotherapy works, we have a lot of confidence that this will be able to kick cancer’s ass.
If you haven’t already, there is a movie about immunotherapy that is highly informative, about the man who discovered the treatment, how it works, and even talks about a patient who is from my home town in PA. A friend of mine even knows her it turns out and while I haven’t contacted her yet, I plan to do so. If you haven’t seen the movie, it’s called “Jim Allison: Breakthrough”
I awoke from a dream in which I had been exploring the barn where I grew up with my son Vincent, showing him the place where we milked, stored grain and hay and straw, and then the farm house where I grew up. As we went outside to the front, my father Brian (God rest his soul) stepped out of a big black truck and stood there, looking at me disapprovingly as I suddenly found myself small and naked. I ran to him anyway and threw my arms around him and he hugged me, silently, tightly and I awoke crying.
My father died in 2005 after a long battle with melanoma. I remember watching my big strong father waste away in pain and sorrow as the cancer grew and he refused the expensive treatments in order to leave his boys with something other than debt.
The dream made me feel that he’s watching over us still. I sure miss those big strong arms.
Tuesday we had an appointment at maternal-fetal medicine to have another ultrasound of Marcus. Everything looked healthy, but estimates on his size were very low. He’s only weighing about 2 pounds at this point (week 30) and that puts him in the 5th percentile size-wise. The doctor didn’t seem too worried, and said that many times the smaller ones fight harder, but they would be keeping a closer eye on him. He may only be about 4 pounds if we’re lucky when delivered on May 4th. This didn’t feel like a win, but the fact that he seems otherwise healthy and strong, and there wasn’t any sort of abnormal growths on the placenta are all wins. May the strength of God be with you my son.
Later that night we found another lump on Jenney. This one is on her rib cage, just under her right breast. We took the discovery pretty hard. We’d been able to sort of push the worry of the cancer growing out of our minds, but this brought it back home in a big way. That was a difficult night, and my dreams were of Jenney driving a car with me in the passenger’s seat. She was unable to control the vehicle, or hit the brakes as we went down a hill, and I awoke in a panic.
Wednesday we had a dermatologist appointment. We left the kids with our neighbors again and the Dr. did a full exam. He found 5 different areas of concern that he wanted to biopsy and get tested. They numb you before they cut the spots off with a scalpel, but each time I saw Jenney wince, it brought back those thoughts of her migraines. But we laughed and joked through it all, and I pictured Jesus sitting in the tiny room with us, encouraging me to make Jenney laugh. So I did.
Friday we had a teleconference with Dr. Senecal. It was mainly a check-in to make sure he had all the updated information from our latest appointments, knows about the new lump, and for us to confirm that none of that changes his plans. It was short, but it’s always reassuring to talk to him.
In between the appointments, we’re having a pretty wonderful time all being together at home. Jenney’s been leading the charge in schooling with the kids, and we have a daily schedule with periods for reading, writing, math, science, art, PE, and music for them. Jenney is really enjoying spending more time with the kids, keeping focused on their progress and virtual class meetings with teachers and classmates. And the kids are even getting along better than ever. Sure they still have some problems here and there, but overall I feel that the kids –not being able to go to school right now is bringing our family closer together.
I’ve been able to keep a daily devotional each morning this week to start my day, and that is making a huge difference in my days. Reading devotionals up to Easter, reading my Bible given to me long ago by my grandparents, and encouraging Jenney to do the same feels more wholesome, and in many ways more true and right to me. Praying with the kids before bed, and before dinner each night, and so much throughout the day has really balanced me out. I haven’t had a panic attack in weeks, though I do still worry sometimes, or get sad, and that’s when I pray the most and lean on giving thanks to God for everything I can think about. And He gives me peace.
It’s interesting; I always remember hearing those sort of words as a kid, and as an adult, but they just don’t mean the same thing anymore. The peace He gives me is real. I experience it daily. I’m not sure I ever understood until now how powerful such peace in the middle of a raging storm can be. It’s truly changing my life, and my family’s for the better.