I really love when you guys come up to me and tell me that you read the blog, it helps to see you face to face, it makes it even more real that God is using my story to reach WAY beyond me. Lately the Lord has used so many of you to bless me beyond belief! Everclean car wash did a fundraiser for me, Henley football did a fundraiser, Tashi Soaps did a fundraiser, and even Umpqua bank! I am incredibly humbled by your kindness and generosity so thank you all.
So, I have been giving this blog a lot of time and prayer. I know a lot of you have questions and I have some answers. This week my Mom and I head back to Seattle for another round of TCells and a new trial drug. Yes a new one because the most recent trial hasn’t been working. I am up to 10 tumors, 3 in my face, 3 on my head, 1 on my throat, and 2 under my ear. The TCells also haven’t been working. The tumors are very strong and defeated any TCells that infiltrated them. This is NOT because my body is in bad condition and this isn’t because my immune system is bad, there is no explanation except that it didn’t work.
Initially the news was extremely discouraging and devastating. I was really counting on this to work. It’s been our backup plan for so long that I almost felt invincible heading into surgery and radiation. In the back of my mind there was always, “Well at least we have TCells”. And now TCells are used up. The backup plan is done. So this leaves us in a very unknown spot. This is the scariest it’s been for me. Plan A, B, and C are done. So we move forward to plan D. A new trial drug.
I’m not invincible. In fact, none of us are. But I have to admit, it can be very hard to realize our own mortality when modern medicine offers you so many resources to stay alive. For the last 2 years I have had cancer, but I never really though about death. It seemed so far off, it seemed so avoidable, and so in our control. I’ve never really experienced a lot of death in my own life either, until my cousin passed away a few weeks ago. He was 21 years old, and it really brought about the reality of our mortality. The reality that life is short. The reality that we aren’t in control, as much as we try. Then they told me that Plan C isn’t working, and slowly but surely I realized that my options are running out. So I thought about death.
It’s been amazing really, because as a Christian person death is not the end. I’ve been thinking a lot about Paul when he talks about longing for heaven and grieving for Earth. As the reality of mortality sets in I have actually felt a longing for heaven for the first time in my life. Like you see all over in the Psalms, I have experienced the guttural cry of lament as I tell the Lord that I’m afraid to die. I have also experienced immense peace and joy in knowing that I get to live forever in heaven, in paradise. I get to live in a place and I will not be suffering and I will never cry and I will not have cancer. My heart breaks knowing that there are people who will never experience that peace. They will live their whole life terrified of death. I am learning that you can’t grieve for the Earth without longing for heaven. You have to strike the balance. If you just grieve for Earth then you can become bitter and angry, jealous, you can start to justify why you shouldn’t die and others should, you can become miserable and panicked. When the longing for heaven comes in then it forces you to meet death with a certain gratitude. Longing for heaven takes you back to the cross, because without Jesus you wouldn’t have the option of heaven. So your heart is looking to the cross and you meet grieving for Earth with gratitude for what God has given you, not what death is taking away. This has allowed me to truly say, “Oh death where is your victory, Oh death where is your sting?”
I’m dying, but really we are all dying. I am so grateful to God for saving me, I will not die and just become a pile of ashes in the dirt, THIS IS NOT IT. This life isn’t as good as it gets for me, and death is not the end. As I cry and mourn over the thought of life ending here on Earth, I also cry tears of joy as I thank God for being so loving, that He sent His son to die so that I may find joy in my suffering knowing that this is not the end.