Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hope Heals

So...I've been struggling this past week with how to announce my (good!) news about my recent MRI and visit with my neuro-oncologist this past Monday, August 19th. 

The news: my brain tumor continues to shrink. Yes, SHRINK! This deserves an exclamation mark because it is truly UNEXPECTED, MIRACULOUS news. Even though it's been more than a year since my diagnosis, it is still hard for me to talk about brain cancer, especially when I think about the (bad) statistics! Side note: I have learned recently not to allow myself to be bound by statistics because 1: they are depressing and 2: We all have to have HOPE and I do believe that I will be an exception to the statistics and will be around until that miraculous cure for brain cancer is found :))

On a serious note, I think that the culmination of a lot of people asking me about the "status" of my brain cancer treatment (although well meaning and very sincere and sweet) overwhelmed me last weekend leading up to Monday's MRI. I had gotten to the point where I was resenting the fact that I had brain cancer and that (in my mind), I was now being defined as the girl with brain cancer. 

Please allow me to say this though: I am so immensely grateful and want to THANK everyone who has PRAYED for me and encouraged me and sent me beautiful cards (I keep them all!). PLEASE keep the PRAYERS and the cards and the encouraging emails coming! I love all these notes and emails and they really do encourage me on my hard days. 

I just need to find the balance between keeping everyone updated on my progress, with being discreet about the latest developments in my treatment. Talking about brain cancer every day is honestly depressing and exhausting for me. I'm trying to shift the focus from that to just life as a wife, mum, daughter, sister etc etc.

Does this all make sense? I certainly don't wish to offend anybody. I love you all and love that you love me so much to ask and pray for me. I certainly still need your prayers: prayer that The Lord will grant me many more years on this earth to live life and enjoy time with you all! I guess what I'm saying is that I would greatly appreciate it if you asked me about something other than brain cancer the next time you see me. Something interesting like...the weather :-)))

So back to why I believe that God is working a modern day miracle in my life. Trust me: I never volunteered for this and would gladly give back the cancer if I could! I think that in writing all this down, the common theme is HOPE. Hope is SO POWERFUL and I do believe that HOPE can heal. 

Proof of hope #1:

Dr. Q performed an awake craniotomy on me where the local neuro-surgeon said that I had an inoperable tumor (and I was given that "12 months to live" prognosis.) The amazing Dr. Q at Johns Hopkins debulked my tumor on August 16th of last year and although he took out as much as he could of my large tumor, there was still a mass that remained and thus had to be treated. 

Proof of hope #2:

After praying for discernment, I began my first cycle of Temodar in October of 2012. I recently completed my 11th cycle. Funny side note: although chemo makes me very tired and I do suffer from chemo brain from time to time, encouraging news such as the most recent scan showing that the tumor was continuing to SHRINK sheds a whole new light on taking chemo! I said to my doctor that I would continue taking chemo as long as it continued to shrink my tumor! Thank you, Jesus. And thank you, Zev, for being the most awesome, patient, encouraging and loving husband for sticking with me through all this; for picking up the slack when I feel completely wiped and for making me laugh when the world seems so dark and hopeless.

Proof of hope #3:

The tumor continued to shrink when my hope was at its lowest and I thought God had forsaken me. Yes, I had gotten to that point.

Zev and I thought that it was too good to be true when in March of this year, my tumor showed a shrinkage: a significant shrinkage perceptible to the untrained eye. My June scan however showed that the tumor was stable (ie: not growing but not getting any smaller). The longer I continued on chemo, the more discouraged I felt. I wish I could say that I went into my August MRI feeling secure and hopeful of further shrinkage, but I wasn't. I felt terribly anxious, FEARFUL and afraid of bad news. That the tumor had remained stable or worse, grown. 

But I hadn't given God and the POWER of prayer enough credit. Where my faith was honestly as small as a mustard seed at times (and there were MANY of those times!) fellow believers in our church, amongst our friends and family BELIEVED and prayed that I would be healed. You know who you are and to you I want to say THANK YOU!!

It is ironic that where I had good, no make that GREAT news to share this week, I was stumped as to how to go about it.

Faith is defined in the Bible as "Being sure of what we HOPE for, certain of what we don't see." Hebrews 11:1. So why does my limited human nature still need to SEE (ie: proof by way of an MRI) in order to believe? 

Reflecting on this past week, I believe that someTHING or perhaps someONE was holding me back from sharing my awesome and I now fully BELIEVE, miraculous news. I say "someone" because I believe that I was stuck in a spiritual warfare these past few days, to the point where the JOY that I would normally feel as a result of the obvious HEALING that is happening in my life was the enemy. Side note: I know that some of you may think I've totally lost it; that I'm sounding like a quack or that I've got a bad case of chemo brain but just hear me out here :-))

Even after Zev and I sat there in the neuro-oncologists office on Monday and SAW the computer screen comparing the March MRI with the current August MRI, I still didn't BELIEVE that I was being healed. I felt emptiness where I should have felt fullness; I felt hopeless where I should have felt renewed hope and a springing of joy in my heart; I felt skeptical "what will the next MRI look like" where I should have felt comfort that I could ALWAYS trust in The Lord.

Essentially, I was bound by my limited, earthly knowledge and understanding ("no cure today for brain cancer; bad prognosis; high rate of recurrence; can't ever get rid of the whole brain tumor because of its infiltrating nature"). The days after my good news, I even tried to find another reason to "explain away" the reason for my sudden shrinkage. In my mind, I still wasn't allowing myself to BELIEVE or HOPE that I could be HEALED. Although I am a Believer in Christ, I was still trying to look for any earthly, "rational" excuse for what the doctors were clearly surprised by. 

"But those who hope in The Lord will renew their strength." Isaiah 40:31

"The JOY of The Lord is your STRENGTH." Nehemiah 8:10

I don't know if God will heal me completely. I believe that He will heal me in His perfect timing and in His perfect way. That gives me hope :-)) Today I am REJOICING in the fact that my tumor is shrinking! And thanking God for His mercy and grace. Thanks for reading all this! Love y'all!


Cassy Quick said...

I am so happy for you, Fiona! This is such amazing and fantastic news. I think and pray for you daily! And will continue....

I love your honesty and beautiful smile! Have fun running around with your toddler boy! :)

Carrie and Andrew Rogers said...

God does great things! Hope you are having beautiful weather! :)