Thursday, July 6, 2017

When Storms are in the Forecast

Fellow Strugglers,
Life is always throwing curve balls, right?  We watch the 10 p.m. news attentively and wait for the weather forecast so we can know how to plan for the next day and if storms are predicted, we make sure and pack that purse-sized umbrella with the colored polka-dots just in case.  We plan, using our smartphones, and double-check at the last minute, to avoid being caught off guard and returning home a dripping wet pile of clothes. But even our best planning and intentions can throw something at us we are NOT prepared for and sometimes the storm is just too darn big for our purse-sized umbrella and what we have left is a gigantic puddle of muddy mess right inside the front door.

I guess that more or less sums up what it is like dealing with chronic disease. After months of feeling not only perfectly fine, but even better than in a long time, I received the news none of us wants to hear..ever.....the cancer has returned.  How can that be?  I don't "feel" sick at all.  But, tests don't lie and my scan showed a couple small spots on my liver. When the radiologist cancelled the biopsy because there was "nothing large enough to biopsy", I was relieved and the sun peeked back out from the clouds.  It felt warm and soothing.....until my oncologist said he wanted me to begin another chemo treatment again.  BANG!  Thunder and lightening!

After talking and praying, talking and praying and talking and praying some more, we decided to seek a second opinion.  I mean, I had been through chemo once...and it wasn't so much fun....wasn't wanting to just jump back in, you know, if it wasn't absolutely necessary.  That led to a trip up to Rochester, Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic.  We met with the oncologist who had taken my case, had a biopsy and other tests and procedures and was scheduled for an ablation.  Not that I was excited about them sticking my liver again, but compared with the other option, this one looked really good. I need to mention, that I have never been so taken aback by the Body of Christ as I was surrounding our, what ended up being two trips to Mayo.  Those wonderful people really know how to be the feet and hands of Jesus and we were so completely loved and well cared for up there, I found it sad when we were sent home!

our friend, Arlene's garden where I breathed in the beauty and exhaled slowly.
looking at downtown Rochester from L'Abri.

Mayo's outdoor garden where we spent a lot of time in between appointments.

Relaxing on the Pasch's deck where we stayed while at Mayo.  

As it turned out, the ablation was also cancelled because a preliminary MRI showed a couple more small spots, one of which was too close to a bile duct to do the procedure safely.  I have now been cancelled on twice!  Feels like storms are in the air again.....I can smell that dusty smell of rain all around me.    Trying not to fear.     Reminding myself of what I know to be true...that I am loved, that God will never forsake me, that all His plans for me are good, that He will bring me through this storm as well, because He has always been faithful.  I repeated those words over...and over...and over...whenever I got my eyes on the dark clouds instead of on Jesus.

The Mayo oncologist suggested a clinical trial that was also available at MD Anderson.  Due to the stringent requirements of the trials, it wouldn't have been possible for me to enroll at Mayo.  When we were waiting at the very small, but very friendly Rochester airport waiting to board our flight back to Austin, I was looking around trying not to fall apart.  The last thing I wanted to have to do was start over with another oncologist.  I have never been a fan of going to the doctor anyway, and fortunately until cancer made its unwelcome arrival, I didn't need to.  Now, hospitals feel like second homes and doctors become friends and currently, my mission field has become where all the dear ones are that are afraid and feel like hope is a dream, are in doubt that God exists and if He does, then He is not at all nice, and are desperately trying to make some sense of what is happening to their bodies.  I can identify with the struggles because I know most of them intimately, but my heart is certain that God is still good, even when it doesn't feel like it.

Now to current events:
Last week, we had our first appointment with my new oncologist at MD Anderson.  I honestly hope  I can weather the storm here, with this doctor.  We talked and talked about options for me and he has recommended another clinical trial that has had positive results so far. Fortunately, my cancer is growing slowly, so we have time to explore other options.  I have learned to love the word: options.  I think right now, it is my favorite word!  We filled out the forms and just today I received a call to schedule my preliminary tests.  I am enjoying a day in the sunshine. I have learned to enjoy the sun while it is shining.

Battling something that there is no cure for is not easy.  If Jesus doesn't come back soon, we may eventually find something that works and get to the bottom of this and people may end up with different battles to fight.  I am sure that there will always be battles though, and storms, and umbrellas that give out against the power of the wind and the wind will continue to blow where it will and it won't give up or give in until we all end up looking  I am actually a bit excited about the idea of a clinical trial, of being a part of something that will either help a good many people or else will provide the doctors with important information so that they can keep searching elsewhere. Seems to me like a win-win.  And I am certainly thankful that I have this option now!

Truth is, God is good...ALL the EVERY situation and in spite of whatever circumstance AND He is faithful to continue to lead us through this storm like He has led us through others. There will always be storms, BUT there is always God...very present, and hands with scars to remind us of His unending love for us and if we want to be like Him, really like Him, it certainly won't be painless, or storm-free, but it will always be good.

Some other images of Mayo...images that remind me of God's beauty and love.

A statue made by a blind artist who was grateful for the care he had received and donated this work that is meant to be touched.  I closed my eyes and touched it; cool, smooth and flawless.

A free concert that we happened upon.  All given for the enjoyment of patients.  Music is healing to the soul.

Another garden area.  As you can see, we did a lot of walking!  So much beauty to soothe the tired hearts everywhere. This bronze girl reminds me that joy stands defiant in the face of adversity, it lifts it's hands in worship and dances.

Today's forecast: sun is shining.



  1. Pam Box, I love you. I love the way you write. Thanks for sharing. So excited that you have options. May God be glorified and may your body respond to the clinical trial. Blessings to you and Rick. I realize that the fears are deep and painful.

    Shirley McLean

  2. Pam, our prayers for you and Rick continue as you face the unknown on a daily basis. I appreciate your candor and words of encouragement. May God be praised for His good care of you both as you navigate these next months and new faces for treatment.

  3. Your words are beautifully written, please know I am praying for you ����

  4. PS those were praying hands not question marks :-(