Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Good Scans!

Dear family and friends,

This is just a very quick post to let you know that my PET/CT scans showed that the cancer is shrinking!  The chemo combination I am on is working, and we couldn't be more thankful.  There is still cancer present (though less of it!), so we must continue with chemo every 28 days for the foreseeable future.  We will scan again in about three and a half months.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your love, prayers, and support.  It takes a village to fight cancer and all who read this blog, and many who don't, are part of our village.  

My Psalm this morning, before meeting with the doctor for the scan results, was Psalm 40. "I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.  He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."  Psalm 40:1-3

God has heard my, and your, cries for healing, and has lifted my spirits out of the slimy pit today--giving me hope and strength to get through next Tuesday's chemo.  Today I have a firm place to stand, and a song of praise in my mouth.  And soon there will some homemade pizza in my mouth, followed by a Menchie's frozen yogurt to celebrate!  :-)

Love,
Gabrielle

P.S.  Things that make me happy besides good scans:

Walks with Renee, Riley, and Jericho!

Hikes to Talapus Lake with Steve!

Eating dinner at Mediterranean Kitchen in Bellevue!

Holding two-month-olds!

Hearing about Daniel's clerkships--putting in new hips and delivering babies!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thoughts the day before my August scans

Dear friends and family,

You know how people tell you not to Google your symptoms or your diagnosis if you have been having health troubles?  The worry is that you will become overly fearful after reading about all the terrible illnesses you may have or the worst-case scenarios for a diagnosis you have recently received.  Well I would like to add one more warning for you—do NOT read about your illness in American Family Physician magazine!

Now I know that most of you are not living with 1.5 physicians like I am, and you probably don’t come across medical journals when you flip through your mail.  But as I flipped through my mail, I found the June issue of American Family Physician with it’s full-color cover featuring that month’s in-depth article on, you guessed it, ovarian cancer.  With a gnawing feeling that I should not read the article, I grabbed a cup of tea and a couple of cookies and sat down to read the article, start to finish. 

I’ve heard that most of us only remember one key idea when later reflecting back on a lecture, sermon, or article we’ve read.  Here is the line that is stuck in my head from the ovarian cancer article:  “The five-year survival rate for women with advanced-stage tumors is only 17% to 28%.” 

Well, I was diagnosed with advanced-stage tumors 3-1/2 years ago.  And I probably wonder, about twenty times a day, if I will be in the 72% to 83% who, statistically, will be dead in another year and a half.   What is a person to do with these grim factoids swirling continually in one’s brain?

Here’s what I did, and what I do, on a daily basis.  What I did, is rip the page with that crummy statistic right out of that journal (and no, Steve and Daniel had not read that issue of the journal yet), I folded it into a tiny square, and opened my little container of mustard seeds.  I put that tiny paper square into the mustard seed container, put the lid back on, and set it back on my desk in the kitchen, where I can look at it every day.  And what I do, when the fearful thoughts creep in about 20 times a day, is look at that container, or if I’m not home, remind myself about it, and remember that it takes only faith as small as the tiny mustard seed to overcome huge obstacles.  Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 17:20, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

I am not a giant of the faith.  I am no C.S. Lewis or Martin Luther.  But I do have the tiniest mustard seed of faith that I could be in the 17% to 28% of women who survive longer than five years, because I belong to God and He is not bound by earthly medical statistics.  If He wants me around, then around I will be, by a miracle of His Hands.  I remind myself too, that He is the Great Physician and even the wind and the waves, and the cancer cells and the scans, obey Him.  And when the time comes that He calls me to my Heavenly home, my mustard seed of faith knows it will not be one second before or after I am meant to be there.  So I will continue to redirect my negative, fearful thoughts, to the little container of mustard seeds with the folded up piece of paper in it, and rest in the knowledge that I am in the very best of Hands. 

Love,
Gabrielle

P.S.  Tomorrow (Monday, August 22nd) are my PET and CT scans at UW Hospital.  They take place in the morning and then we meet with the doctor at 2:30 PM for the news.  Thank you for your prayers as we go into that day, that our tiny seeds of faith will feel huge, and that we will have God’s peace which passes all human understanding.  Thank you!

Here are my mustard seeds and there is that article, given to God in faith that I will NOT be a statistic!