I never thought so many things could take place within the span of only a few hours and days. These last few days have proven me wrong. With God, anything is possible. Truly.
Throughout our adventures through cancer treatments, scans, tests, and appointments, insurance has been pretty nutty…to say the least. It’s unfortunate, that while we are so very grateful to have it, these companies don’t often see eye to eye with cancer patients and their doctors. Unfortunately, our insurance takes quite a while to approve much needed tests and treatments. Once we were discharged from the hospital, my doctors made it very clear that I needed to start chemotherapy around two weeks from discharge. Three weeks was pushing it. Last Wednesday, after making the final decision to continue chemotherapy at my current Gyn Oncologist’s office, we made the call to my doctor to, “go ahead and put the order through to insurance.” They made that call this past Wednesday, a week ago, and so began the waiting game. Sometimes, I feel as if that’s all I’m doing. Waiting while I know there is something that needs to be done, really is the hardest part. It’s in those moments that the enemy tries to take advantage of my vulnerable and weary state. He tries his hardest to kick me when I’m down and convince me of things that most likely will never come to pass.
By last Friday, we still had heard nothing from neither my doctor’s office nor insurance, so I contacted them. When facing trials of this magnitude, you really have to be your own advocate. And what you can’t do, God will handle the rest. According to the staff at my oncology office, they placed the order, and had not yet heard anything from insurance. They informed me that sometimes these insurance companies take a while to review and approve certain orders. No duh!? So we waited…and waited…and prayed…and waited. Oh, and I cried…a lot. We prayed that come Monday morning, we would receive a call right away notifying us that we could come in and I could start the long process of ingesting my chemo cocktails. Well, with the weekend, Monday also came and went. I called both insurance and the oncology office again. According to the office, our insurance company technically has fourteen days to review and approve an order. We don’t have fourteen days. That would place me on the day after Christmas to receive chemotherapy, and that is frankly, too far away. We needed to do this now. After tearfully and hysterically pleading with the insurance customer service representative, I was advised to have my doctor personally contact them and request to expedite the reviewing and approval process. So I did. And my doctor called and did just that. Yesterday (Tuesday), we waited, and waited, and waited, and prayed, and waited, and prayed some more that God would push this process through and allow everything to be approved in a miraculously quick fashion. And, I cried some more. My poor husband! Not only has he had to handle the loss of his mother a year and a half ago and having a wife with recurring cancer, she is also a bag of tears lately. Although a lot to deal with, he handles it like a champ. He prays over me, calms me down, reassures me, listens to my worries, and lets me cry. Men, most of the time that’s all we want. He is perfect for me.
By Tuesday, I was extremely nervous. Having experienced my insurance already rejecting a previous PET scan, this only added to my growing concerns. And, boy did the enemy take advantage of that! Pretty soon, I believed that my chemo would not get approved and we would be out of luck. Strongholds of the mind are a real thing, and they take serious strength and spiritual weapons to battle against. I was literally crying out to Jesus to help me in this time of desperation. “Lord! Please help me! I really need you to move mountains for me now. I obviously can’t do this on my own.” Tuesday came and went…almost. Around six o’clock in the evening, my phone began to ring and I noticed it was my doctor’s office calling. Oh my word, could this be it?! Sure enough, my chemotherapy nurse answered and spread the good news…insurance had finally approved my chemo drug, and we could begin the next morning (today, Wednesday). Hallelujah! You may think I am exaggerating these next few sentences, but I assure you, my husband can attest to it. I began wildly dancing around the house, yelling, “Praise Jesus! Thank you Lord!” And pretty soon, I was creating songs full of, “I’m getting chemo, I’m getting chemo” lyrics. I probably looked like a lunatic. But hey, I’m one excited lunatic…as a cancer patient in need of chemotherapy, the green light was an enormous blessing. I continue to share that God does BIG things. He does things that we think are completely and entirely impossible. Although I prayed that I would be sitting in a chemo chair this morning, I wasn’t fully sure it would happen. I still had doubts. I still had fear that insurance wouldn’t approve the order. I was still anxious that I would have to wait until after Christmas to begin this next treatment journey. I tell you what…right when I think things aren’t going to work out, God shows up. Right when I begin to doubt His goodness and sovereign spirit, He stands in front of me and declares,”Child, I’ve got this. Stop thinking I have forsaken you. I’m still here. Watch what I can do.” And yet again, I stand in awe of His power and plan. With every passing doubt and moment of fear, He continues to be faithful and pour out His promises into my life. Praise Jesus.
Needless to say, this morning, I was sitting in the exact same chemo chair I had sat in the previous twenty-something times. As spontaneous and wild as I can be, I am monotonous and routine in where I choose to sit and receive chemo. It’s in the corner of the room, and it’s my own personal little nook. As strange as it is to be back in that place, I am thankful. God is truly growing my pride for my story. I know He is saying, “Stephanie and Matt, I have chosen you for this story. It’s mine, but I want you to share it. Go and make me proud.” And that we are. With every day that passes and with every new page in this book, we are continually choosing to see the good in this. Everyone is waiting and watching me…Christians and non-Christians alike. Will I fall? Will I denouce God? Will I give up? I can assure you, the answer to all of the above is NO. That doesn’t mean I will be free of bad days, and if you have read the entirety of my blog, you know that those bad days exist, and I don’t hide the fact that they are downright shitty. I do not blame God for allowing this to happen. As insane as it may sound to some, I am thankful for this situation He has allowed us to step into. We have grown dramatically since my very first diagnosis last January. We have discovered more and more about the Savior we worship and praise. We count every single blessing He hands us, no matter how big or small they appear to be. When people say I am an inspiration and hero to them, my only response is, “Thank you. It’s God working through me…it’s not just me.”
Today’s treatment session went swimmingly. Weird to say that chemotherapy was enjoyable, but it’s the truth for today. There weren’t many women receiving therapy today, so it was just me and a couple others. Positive, uplifting, and happy spirits really do rub off. I was honored to be undergoing treatment with two entirely heroic women. Their positive outlooks combined with mine created an abundance of faith in the room. We laughed and shared our stories…and through that, we bonded. I was delighted to see God in their eyes. We proclaimed that we are fighters and will beat this disease. And, I whole-heartedly believe that. Through Jesus, I will be healed.
Another blessing to share with you is in regards to financial provision. Those who haven’t personally gone through a battle of cancer can only imagine what the medical bills look like. On average, we are receiving about three to five medical bills a week. Cancer is very expensive. But, God still provides. As most of you know, we had a Baldalicious Bandwagon fundraiser last April to help with our initial financial costs. Because I have now been re-diagnosed, we have been quietly considering having another. However, along with two of our dear friends, God stepped in before us. A couple of friends of ours have let us know that God has put it on their hearts to create an online fund for me. After asking our permission, they have launched the Stephanie Madsen Fund through an online website. Through this site, you are able to donate any amount of money, anonymously or candidly. It’s your choice. As awkward as it is to ask for help, we know that many of you are wanting to offer a helping hand but just aren’t sure how. We know that many of you are in financial straits, and are unable to donate. We ask that you continue to pray on my behalf. For those who feel led to give financially, please feel free to check out this website and do so accordingly. We are overwhelmingly grateful for those who continue to help, support, encourage, and pray for us through this trying time. With a lack of financial burden, we are more capable of focusing on honing our forces to fight against this disease.
Now that I am home from chemotherapy, I am feeling good. I have a slight headache, but I will attribute that to the craziness that has occurred these past few days. Although it’s only the first day, I have not yet experienced any side effects from the poison that was injected a few hours ago. We kindly ask that you pray that side effects will not show themselves in this next season of treatment. We ask that you pray for my strength while undergoing the intensity of this specific chemo drug. We ask prayer for peace on the days that doubt and fear creep in. We ask prayer of thanksgiving for what God has already done in my life, and for what He will continue to do. I am believing for a miracle. I am believing in beating the statistics. I am believing for a complete restoration here on this Earth. Believe and pray with us. In addition I feel compelled to ask you to, especially in this Christmas season, focus more deeply on the blessings that He has given you. No matter how small or big, we know that all good things come from above. Oftentimes we find ourselves only asking for things, and although God wants us to ask, He also wants us to have grateful hearts. Don’t believe you did it on your own…He was there the whole time.
If you feel led to donate and help us in this financial battle through cancer, please click HERE. From the depths of our hearts, we thank you.
Psalm 121:1-8 (The Message)
“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains. He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep. God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you- shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moon stroke. God guards you from every evil, He guards your very life. He guards you when you leave and when you return, He guards you now, He guards you always.”