Thursday, October 1, 2015
Seafood and Sea Shells
Greetings friends and family,
Fall is sorta here. The first day of October brought with it 107 degree temps. The only positive side of this "100 days of 100 degrees" marathon is that the pool is still in prime swimming condition! We are ready to get back outdoors and have some adventures in hiking, bike riding, and geocaching.
Kendra's update is finally clear after weeks of MRI scans, insurance squabbling, and uncertainty. The tumors in her vertebrae and liver are officially cancer-free and in full remission! That's great news. The not-so-great news is that 5 new potentially cancerous spots showed up in her hip bones. That really sucks. No way around that bit of data. However, there is good news in the midst of the new ones. The good news is that there are no other spots or concerns anywhere else in her body. All of the issues are localized to her pelvic area and none of them are in her organs. The localized area of concern also means that the 40 days of radiation treatment starting around October 12th has a high probability of killing all the cancer cells completely. This is what we are believing for.
Secondly, the test results show the vertebrae is healing very well, but is "settling". That translates to "slightly collapsing". It means the tumor deteriorated so much of the inside of her vertebrae that it is potentially unsafe for Kendra to be without her back brace. Her vertebrae could be fine or it could collapse completely, which would lead to fusing vertebrae and adding rods and pins. Because of that prognosis we are moving forward with an outpatient surgery on the 21st to have cement injected into the vertebrae. This is the only valid option. The risk is low. It won't affect her radiation treatment. And as a bonus, she will most likely be able to throw her back brace in the trash by November 1. I've been holding my breath every day for the past seven months hoping Kendra's vertebrae holds up
I would say we have some big decisions to make, but that's not true. There is a clear path with some specific milestones between now and Christmas. We are just taking the journey laid out before us and cheering when we pass the mile markers. Nothing about this is fun. I believe in being thankful IN all things, but I don't have to be thankful FOR all things. I don't even have to like this, thank goodness.
There are many things to like about our life though. My employer is working with me very well and that takes away a little bit of the stress. The other thing that takes away stress is just doing normal things during the day like going grocery shopping, doing homework with the twins, and having dinner with friends.
One such occasion was a visit to the Angry Crab with Stephanie's family. The waiter pulled out a lobster and let the twins touch it. Then when he held it up for the picture they both jumped back and squealed like little kids. Oh wait... they are kids.
The restaurant allows patrons to draw on the walls. I looked over to see exactly what I would expect from these two. Easton is studying the crabs and lobsters as they flutter and crawl. Layla is writing on the wall a descriptive story about our life.
I said, "what are you two up to?" They both looked at me as puzzled as if to say, "duh! what would you expect?"
Layla wrote, "My mom is cancer free!" She believes it and I agree with her statement as prophetic. speaking in faith is being certain of what is not yet true about the present situation.
On another part of the wall Layla drew this picture of Layla and Kendra. Layla has long curly hair and Kendra has none. Fairly accurate!
Kendra's friends are falling into two categories: 1. Those who say they are here for her anytime and find ways to be a part of her life while helping. 2. Those who say they are here for her and then never make an effort because they are worried she is "too busy" for them. Stephanie loves to care for and about people. It shows in her friendship with us every time she connects with Kendra with an invite, a kind note, a container of green juice, or a hundred other way's she's shown Kendra support.
A few weeks ago we got a letter and a picture frame in the mail from my sister, Joanie. I've been at a loss for words and no matter what kind of language I try to put to this, it feels insufficient to describe the depth of gratitude I have for this. She took time to write a letter. She took time to gather up the twigs and junk that washed up on shore to spell out the word "Godfidence". She glued the shells on the frame; the shells she picked up while praying and believing for Kendra. Suggesting this is a thoughtful act doesn't even begin to express how meaningful this is.
The letter says this:
August 30, 2015 - Kendra, Bronson Easton, and Layla, At the beginning of this month we went to Florida on our family vacation. While we were in St. Petersburg, expecting the best beach day of the summer, the day got cloudy and storms blew in. The waves on the sand were high, some of the highest ever seen by John's family who live there. As we walked on the beach following the rains, it was evident that the high tides scraped the bottom of the ocean and hurled everything toward the shore. As I walked along, toes squishing in the sand and picking up shells, I began thinking of you all. I thought about the storm you have been enduring for months. Of the waves of cancer and how it has scooped your plans and crumpled them into pieces, and has thrown you into a life story that you did not expect
As the skies grew dark at the end of the day, the boys and I pulled out flashlights and continued searching for shells. With each shell I grabbed, I felt led to pray over you. As l bent down to collect a shell, l called out your name to God. I claimed, in faith, healing for you, Kendra. Over and over l spoke your name to our God who created every part of your body and who knows the innermost parts of your soul. I thanked him for your testimony. I begged him for your healing. I quoted His holy word from Jeremiah 30:17, saying, "l will restore health unto her, and l will heal her of her wounds".
Again and again l claimed the promise of healing, "Heal her, Jesus. Heal her, Jesus" shell after shell, piece after piece. I urged our God to bolster your body, to bring strength to your weary bones. I prayed that He would turn every good hour into quality moments that would make up the difference for the hours sitting with the chemo bag, the hours sleeping, and the hours waiting in a medical office. That your time would be given back to you, through beautiful moments with your children, and with Bronson that would encourage your heart and bring you great joy! Kendra, I asked God for that big miracle, too. I asked for complete healing that would astound the medical community and would amplify your testimony of His power in your life. I asked again and again, shell after shell, until my pockets were overflowing and I had to fill a bucket.
As you look ahead to the future, there are uncertain days ahead. The blue ocean is vast. You cannot determine the weather. You can only manage your sails and trust the captain of the ship. Oh how we can trust Him! Oh how He loves us, his children in the clearest, purest way. His promises are true. His power is unending. His love is abounding always. He does know all of our days and the number of hairs on our heads, and how many fell when subjected to chemo. He holds us during suffering, during pain, and reminds us that His grace is sufficient for all things. Cancer. His grace is sufficient through cancer. Through disease, through sickness, through weariness, through testing, results and prognosis. His grace is sufficient.
People in our lives have been incredibly generous in giving of their time, talents, and treasures. Some are more tangible than others, but all are extremely meaningful and helpful. we can never repay people for the amazing outpouring of love and resources, but I can happily say, "Thank you!" from my grateful heart. We are blessed and every day is a miracle.