Lisa & I will head out Sunday afternoon for Houston. Followup scans & bloodwork Monday. Then the latest most-important-of-my-life appointment w/ my doctor on Tuesday.
Sunday, 9/20 - Drive to Houston
Monday, 9/21 - P.E.T. Scan & bloodwork beginning @ 11:00.
Tuesday, 9/22 - Appt. w/ Dr. Homsi (medical melanoma)@ 12:00 to get the scan results
Wednesday, 9/23 - Appt. w/ Dr. Mehran (thoracic surgeon) @ 12:00.
**The STRONG hope & prayer is that the Wed. appointment w/ Dr. Mehran will be moot--& cancelled--after Dr. Homsi says on Tuesday "Mr. Madaris, your scan results are clean; go home! See you in 6 months..."**
The tests themselves are no big deal in terms of pain & suffering, except that on Monday, I get no food nor coffee for 6 hours before the test. Morning coffee? Negative. Breakfast? Nope. *sigh* However, there is a coffee bar of sorts in the lobby, which means that about 4 minutes after I walk out of the P.E.T. scan area, I'll be swilling a giant cafe au lait & eating a stale donut...and seriously enjoying both! Also, there's the IV prep for the scan. I haven't ever minded getting stuck, until I was stuck something like 240 times last year. B.B. King said it best: "the thrill is gone..."
But oh my, how time C R A W L S between the end of the scan Monday...That's the worst part of the whole thing.
And then there's the crushing fear that these trips raise...it never quite overcomes me by the grace of God, but it's there just beneath the surface. Note carefully: my faith in my Lord is SOLID; better, perhaps, than ever. And I do not fear death. I completely know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day. So don't be concerned that my cancer journey is damaging my faith! Indeed, the opposite is true; these last 15 months of cancer-related stuff have strengthened my faith as God has poured out grace upon grace to us...(although I'd strongly suggest that you find other means to develop your faith than stage IV metastatic melanoma...)
So what is this fear of which I speak? You know it too, I 'spect. (Although for most of you it lies in the gloriously hypothetical; I pray it stays that way for you, & that you never...well, get to go to MDA as a patient!) It's a deep & devastating fear of what bad scan results might mean for me between now and that marvelous day when I stand in Him complete...It had been gloriously supressed by the potent combo of time, prayer, and good news at the last visit. But now it's time to get re-scanned. And to spend another loooooong night and slooooooow morning awaiting this latest most important Dr. appt. of my life...thus, the nagging fear is back.
That fear...or dread...never really will go away in this world. Perhaps that's a testimony to a small faith. But I don't think so, although my faith is surely incomplete and could be enlarged. Like most everyone's.
Whatever it is, in my fleshly humanity, here's what trips to M.D. Anderson for scans bring up in my mind:
--"Your cancer is back..."
--Chemotherapy (I have very few genuine fears & terrors on earth; here's one...)
--Immunotherapy (this one I've had...twice...zero fun, sir!)
--more cancer surgery (I actually fear this less than the ones above...)
--Inability to do my job
(my students & colleagues may insert their own punch line here...Perhaps a better way to say it is "inability to attempt to do my job"...)
--Inability to provide for my family
--A legacy in my kids that says "yeah, Dad was alright, but he had some huge, obvious, gaping character flaws that I wish he'd have worked on more..."
--An obituary that says "he had some potential, I suppose...too bad it was all unrealized..."
Again, I do NOT fear death. I've been present, standing beside the bed, when two people died. Not such a big thing for the one who dies. (Can be a mighty big deal for those left behind, though)
So, yeah...this upcoming trip to M.D. Anderson is taking me once again into the depths of my theology & of my relationship with my Lord & of what redemption means. More specifically, MY redemption...I thank God that I'm am so very far from what I used to be. But I am also very far from what I ought to be. And I'd sure like some more time for the Holy Spirit to continue chiseling & shaping & molding me toward that.
I suppose I'll battle these fears until I stand in Him complete in the place of what Wayne Watson call's the "ultimate healing." There will be no cancer there...and no fear...and no death...and no goodbyes. One of my personal favorite descriptions of heaven--that I'm sure I read somewhere, as it's way too good to be mine!--is the place of the eternal hello... I can't wait, although I'm also not looking to go just yet...
Sorry to have poured all of this out on you...(but then, that's what happens here @ mmbeachbum, ya know...*smile*)
If you're a praying type, please pray for us. Some suggestions:
--relatedly, for our car to get us there and back
(Lisa & I head out Sunday after lunch)
--ACCURATE SCANS MONDAY THAT SHOW NO CANCER!!
--peace that passes understanding from Monday afternoon through the appointment Tuesday.
--God's grace to be with us in that room @ MDA Tuesday around lunch time as Dr. Homsi walks in
Also, if you would, please be thankful to God for a few things on our behalf:
--Diane, my high school classmate who has opened her home to us multiple times. (Her son has the swine flu, so it's unlikely that we'll be staying there this time) One of God's grace notes through this MDA journey is that we have yet to spend a dime on lodging in something like 15 trips out there! This could be the first time...
--Friends who have loaned us cars for the trip in the past
--Dr. Jade Homsi - medical melanoma & Dr. Reza J. Mehran - thoracic surgery. Got an appt. w/ Dr. Homsi Tuesday to get the P.E.T. scan results, and w/ Dr. Mehran Wed. that I HOPE becomes moot after Tuesday's appt. These guys are awesome!
--Dr. Cheryl Dale, Dean of the Wm. Carey Univ. School of Business who hired me two years ago, little realizing how very much juggling would be required to cover my trips to MDA, and who has yet to complain about it.
--My colleagues @ the Wm. Carey Univ. School of Business. They will be once again covering my office hours without complaining, and will be praying for us faithfully. What an absolute joy it is to work alongside servant- and ministry-minded friends who genuinely have my best interests at heart! (dadburn allergies...*sheepish grin*)
--Steve Blake, Manager of the Lifeway Store in Hattiesburg. Once again, he will be juggling the schedule & the workload so that his assistant manager--Lisa--can head out to Houston/MDA with her husband.
Thanks so much, my friends, for remembering us before the throne of grace. Aren't you looking forward to the day when intercessory prayer will no longer be needed? When only prayers of thanksgiving & praise will be required? When we will "bow on our knees and cry 'Holy!'" as another song says?
Until then, I'm glad you're in my world, and am humbled by your prayers.
In His Grip,
p.s. - just so you know, I cut out several parts of this...be thankful for that, as it's already long! *smile*