After suffering many months of extreme pain with no clear diagnosis, the root cause was finally determined. Cancer. My Mom had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. While in some regards it literally took my breath away, I also recall a very tunnel vision focus. All those years of listening to teachings began to rise up in me. I knew what we needed to do. We need to keep our eyes on what the Word says. The doctor's report doesn't have to be the final report.
This occurred in April/May of 2010. At that time, she had a cancerous mass in her abdomen which appeared to have spread to her liver and spine. She also had blood clots in her leg and lungs. I believe we were given 11 to 13 prescriptions to fill when she left the hospital and she began taking morphine about every 8 hours to make the pain bearable. It was so overwhelming that we had to create a spreadsheet to keep track of the dosages and times.
As the hospital doctors sent us on our way leaving very little hope, this was a pivotal moment in the battle. Are we going to let the fear and grief triggered by the diagnosis dictate the outcome or will we believe God’s Word which says He has provided healing and long life?
We went to U of M thinking they would be the experts, but found they could do nothing special. Instead through a series of divine connections, God led us to a wonderful oncologist near my parents’ house with a small, friendly practice. There my Mom was a name and not a number as may have happened at U of M. When my Mom asked “how long do I have to live” during our first meeting, the doctor said something like “Let’s not worry about that right now. I have several things we can try to get you some immediate relief and let’s focus on that.” Although she didn’t say it, it seemed that she felt this was so severe that they could only try to slow down the progression and ease the immediate discomfort. I don’t think she held much hope for actually getting rid of the cancer.
During that first year, my Mom underwent radiation on her spine and six months of chemo. When she had a serious reaction to the chemo meds, the doctor wanted to switch her to a drug that had not been FDA approved for this type of diagnosis. If the insurance company did not agree to cover it, the estimated cost of one treatment was around $8000. As the days passed God’s favor prevailed and the cost of treatment for this special drug gradually declined to only a few hundred dollars in the end. In addition, the insurance company agreed to approve the medicine so the entire cost was paid in full.
The last chemo treatment was in November 2010 and a follow up PET scan was scheduled for December. The results were good, but when asked if this meant remission the doctor said there was still a ways to go.
The PET scan results from April 2011 show that the bone cancer and pelvic mass are completely gone and there is only one, almost undetectable, spot on her liver that remains. When asked about remission this time, the doctor said it is really close. Even more exciting about the change between December and April is that my mom was not going through chemo treatments. This means that the reduction in cancer cells can only be attributed to God!
Although this journey has been more difficult than we could have ever imagined, it was so exciting to see God at work along the way. We have a fresh understanding of what our role is in the process. We are to draw near to God. We are to read and speak the Word to ensure a heart that is fully grounded in His promises. We then rest in the fact that it is through God’s grace and what Jesus did on the cross that brings forth the results. The Bible says He will never leave us or forsake us and that He is faithful to His Word.
In just under a year she went from stage 4 cancer with a diagnosis of 6 months to 2 years to live to almost in remission. Recently, my Mom asked the doctor if any other patients on the same anti-cancer meds were encountering similar side effects. The doctor said she doesn’t have any other patients that have been on the medicine that long. We take that to mean she has never had anyone on those meds survive this long. God’s grace is still carrying her through! It’s now been almost 8 years and she is still praising God with us!
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