Sometimes there just aren’t enough surgeries—or doctors—or chemotherapies—or prayers. And you have to wipe the tears from your cheeks and say the words that you were hoping to never have to say...
Joey had been feeling pretty good overall the last week or two and was ready to start the next phase of treatment. This whole thing has been very hard on her, but she knows it’s all part of getting better, so she’s been a trooper and has stayed incredibly positive through it all. She’d done everything she was supposed to do. Followed every instruction that she’d been given and has taken every hard knock that has come her way, and got back up, and kept fighting.
Before the next round of chemo was to start this past Thursday in Atlanta, the doctors scheduled a CT scan to be done the day before. This was her first major scan since before she had the big surgery in July. So the goal was to see how her body has responded, after the removal of the cancer and after the first five weeks of treatment. To make sure that there were no signs of cancer still around.
But there was.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this...” That’s how the conversation began.
Then the doctor explained that the scans revealed that two quarter-sized tumors have already grown back in the same area that they had been blasting daily with chemo and radiation. And that many more smaller tumors were visible all throughout the abdominal region. She said that the cancer was aggressively spreading in spite of all they’d been doing.
So we did what you do when the medicine isn’t working, and the doctors are at a loss... and when the ‘statistics’ say you can do more chemo, but it will only buy you a little time...
We came home.
Not to die. But to live.
To put our hands in each others and sit out on the back porch and watch the sunset as our sweet little baby girl plays on a blanket in front of us. To bask in the glory of the beautiful life He’s blessed us with, and try not to question why we can’t have more of it together. And why He is allowing this to happen.
The doctors gave us an estimate of how much time they believe that Joey has, and we both looked at the calendar that hangs by our kitchen door, then I took the calendar off the wall and threw it in the trash can.
So we don’t have forever. We’ve got right now.
And that’s enough.
To say my wife is brokenhearted is an understatement. And to tell you that we’re not scared would be a lie. This is the kind of thing that happens to somebody else, not us. But then I have to remember... we are somebody else to somebody else.
Joey has been mostly sleeping these past few days since we’ve been home. Partly I think because of the medicine, but also because I think she’s trying to process what’s happening and even more so, what’s going to happen. I can’t process any of it. I can’t. All I can do right now is think of her and want to make sure she’s taken care of and knows how much she’s loved by me, and by so many others.
I’m not going to tell you that I’m okay with this because ‘God has a bigger plan.’ Or that ‘we’ll understand His bigger purpose somewhere down the line.’ That logic doesn’t really work for me right now. I’m not angry at God. I’m not angry with anyone. I’m just disappointed. I hoped that Joey would get to be one of the lucky ones that somehow overcome stage four cancer and get to hear words like ‘remission’ or ‘cure,’ instead of ‘I’m so sorry.’
It’s hard for me to feel slighted when I know that the career that Joey and I have had—this amazing last seven years or so—has only been because God reached out His powerful hand and chose us. He lifted us up from our little farm. and let us see and do things beyond our wildest dreams. And you can’t be in awe of an amazing road that God leads you down, and then be any less in awe of a corner that He has you turn.
I think in the end... the good and the bad, He just wants us to give it to Him.
And so we do.
One of the mantras that I always try to live by is to have incredibly “high hopes, but low expectations.” So, even though we know we’ve reached the end of what medicine can do—and while we prepare for what God has put in front of us... Joey and I will continue to pray for a miracle.
We ask for your prayers too. For a miracle.
And even more so, for peace with His decision.
That is enough.