This morning we met with our new radiation oncologist, Dr. Eden. Let me start off by saying that besides my family members, Dr. Eden may be my new favorite person in the entire world. He began the meeting by saying how encouraged he was that Ryan's cancer is localized and therefore treatable, and he firmly intends to take an aggressive, curative approach to treating Ryan instead of just palliative care. He said that Ryan is young, strong, and "healthy", with a son and a wife to live for, so there is no point in not "completely going after it". At this point, I screamed out a very happy, excited "Heck yeah!". Tears flooded my eyes as someone said to us for the first time in a long time, "We want to try to get rid of this cancer."
We spent a long time discussing possible side effects, some of which are normal (fatigue, skin irritation, GI symptoms) and some are more rare and serious (long-term damage to the kidneys, colon, secondary cancers, possible infertility, and liver problems). We are okay moving forward in spite of these...after all, we have very little to lose and a whole lot to gain.
So here's what the process will look like: we are on our way home right now, and next week Ryan will fly or drive down to Zion alone to have a two-day series of appointments to begin prepping for radiation treatments. They will give him small tattoos to map out where they will give him the radiation (down to sub-millimeter accuracy), and mold a special board for him to lay upon so that he lays in the exact same position every day. He will then fly back home for the last weekend in April and his treatments will likely begin the first week of May. He will need to be down at CTCA every weekday for seven to nine weeks, with a break on the weekends. He will concurrently be taking the same oral chemo that he has been taking because that chemo makes radiation more effective. Colton and I will be able to see him on weekends (either we'll go to Chicago or he'll come home), and once school is done for the summer, I fully intend to be with Ryan until his treatments are over.
This doctor's faith was very evident from the get-go. He said that he has a strong faith and believes that God uses him as an instrument of healing. He insisted that he will pray with/for us the whole time that he's treating us. In other words, he meshed really well with us. We asked him about doing radiation close to home and while he did not say anything negative about any other provider, he did say that he believes that CTCA's radiation oncology department is second to none. We felt extremely confident after the appointment was over that we should be in Zion for treatments, especially after having met Dr. Eden and hearing his approach to this. After all, what Christian would not feel comfortable treating in a place called Zion?
Since we have elected to have the treatments done in the Chicagoland area, we are cognizant of the fact that our lives will be in upheaval for the next couple of months. We are confident that God will provide for our needs, financially and logistically, in order for Ryan to get the best care possible. We are already putting plans in place on how to juggle travel, lodging, "single parenting" (for me), nutrition needs for Ryan, and some family members are already asking if they can take time to stay with Ryan in Zion. Truthfully, it will be a hardship for me and my students for me to be with him much. I have a lot of responsibilities at school, and while Ryan absolutely comes first in my life, I need to balance that with the needs of my students. This is a very busy time for me at school as I push to get my kids through their last chapters of the year and then prepare for the final exam. Ryan has insisted that he will be okay without me - after all, the treatments for this do not seem to be too rigorous, and the side effects are very manageable. This is why we have a support network in place, and I feel at peace with allowing other people to step in and help.
Specific prayer requests: for everything to go smoothly next week at the prep appointments on Tuesday & Wednesday, for wisdom & guidance & God's directive hand to be with the doctors, for provision for our needs, and for peace and comfort as we make this new bend in the road. We continue to covet your prayers, and we praise God for how He continues to provide for our every need and that His will for our lives is absolutely perfect. No matter what happens in the next couple of months, no matter what fork in the road comes along in this journey, our deepest desire is that His Mighty Name is glorified.
Of David. A psalm.
1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
2 for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters.
3 Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4 The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.
5 They will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God their Savior.
6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, God of Jacob.
7 Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory.