"Rumor grew of a shadow...a nameless fear..."Fellowship of the Ring
I'll name that fear: metastatic melanoma.
(Apologies for letting you all see behind the curtain, so to speak....but here it is.)
The line above from the opening narration of the movie version of Fellowship of the Ring absolutely nails what happens every three months. Mercifully, that shadow is hidden most of the time; but it's still very much there for anyone who has ever had an aggressive form of cancer that's prone to come back. (Like, say, metastatic melanoma.)
But then comes the trip out to Houston. And the reminder that this is NOT one of those fun travel adventures that Lisa & I really love to have. We're here for a reason. And that reason makes the shadow grow, slowly & steadily.
We check in to the Motel. "We'd like the medical rate, please." And the shadow grows.
Right now, just across the road, 2 things I really love are set up: training camp for the NFL's Houston Texans, and also the Ringling Bros. circus. And neither one really really pierces the shadow very much tonight.
This particular trip, we had help shoving the shadow & the fear back. We spent a fantastic couple of days over in Austin with my Aunt & Uncle, who went WAY out of their way to make us feel like special guests in their home & city. We had a total blast! I told them when we left that they had screwed up in reverse; now we'll need to swing by their place for a couple of days every time we come out. *smile*
But then came the very nice drive through the TX country side. The familiar Houston traffic (even on a Sunday afternoon!). The signs "610 South." And the shadow came out of hiding.
(Again, forgive my whining here; just trying to let you in on what this trip does to one's psyche every single time. To mine, at least.)
This time, the shadow jumped out of hiding early, as we got the 3:00 a.m. call that Mom was transported by ambulance this morning with what appeared to be angina pains. Seems she's fine, except for some blood chemistry issues that are being addressed. A very clear & present reminder that medical stuff happens unexpectedly. And that it is breathtakingly real.
Also, this particular trip has Lisa & me away from home when our baby boy turns 24 (today). And when he officially starts his job as a real live pharmacist (tomorrow). Yet another way that cancer disrupts.
I hate cancer!
I do not fear a P.E.T. scan. An IV stick, the injection, a mandatory 1-hour nap to allow the stuff to circulate, and the ~40-minute scan. No biggie.
However, my blood pressure will be elevated tomorrow morning as we watch the clock tick S L O W L Y toward 11. Walking in for the results appointment is good for an extra 20 points on my systolic number.
In a matter of seconds, we'll get the word. Four times in a row now, we've heard the magic, shadow-dispelling words "Your P.E.T. scan looks great; all clear!" Three years of P.E.T. scans prior, we did not hear those words.
Thus, the shadow. The nameless fear (OK, it's now named.)
I do not fear death, for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day. But I do fear what a bad P.E.T. scan could imply between now & that day.
I fear its effect(s) on me physically in terms of treatment, but also its effect(s) on my life. I fear an epitaph that says "A nice enough guy I guess." I fear dishonoring my faith & my Lord by not making a difference for the Kingdom & for the Gospel. I fear leaving my family ill equipped & provided for. And, to be sure, I fear chemo (which I've never had). I fear bone marrow transplants (ditto). I fear immunotherapy (which I have had).
So, if you're expecting a lighthearted post with a pleasant conclusion, it's not happening. Maybe next time. *smile*
And should we hear the magic, shadow-dispelling sentence again, this post will be an embarassing bad memory that makes me have a sheepish grin.
For three months...at which point I could write it again.
Thanks so much for your prayers & friendship during this journey!
"And You were the one Who filled my cup. And you were the One Who let it spill. So blessed be Your Holy Name, if You never fill it up again. If this is where my story ends, just give me one more breath to say, 'Hallelujah!'"
from "Broken Praise," by Todd Smith (based on the story of Job; one of my very favorite songs)