Stephanie and Matt, February 2012
Last Friday (8/24), I went to the hospital to get a PET scan. This was my second scan of this kind, the first being exactly seven months ago. Besides being the same procedure, this one was drastically different than my first scan, which you can read about here. Why was this one different, you ask? Well you see, in January I knew I had cancer, and was receiving the imaging to determine where and how far the cancer had spread. A week ago, I received the imaging to determine if, after all my treatment, the cancer was demolished. Waiting for results is the worst part of the process. Although God has been teaching me patience throughout my entire life, specifically during this journey, I haven’t yet mastered it. Let’s just say, I am not a fan of the waiting game.
Waiting truly is the hardest part. Whether it’s waiting for results for an important exam, waiting for paperwork to go through on purchasing a home, or waiting for doctors to tell you cancer is or is not present in your body, it’s still difficult. In the stillness, your mind is more capable of wandering off onto paths you thought you blocked off. I’ve had five whole days to battle against doubt. So many thoughts have run through my head. But over these last few days, I’ve learned that my thoughts are a choice. I can either choose to let doubt flood into my brain and infect all aspects of my being, or I can look forward and keep my thoughts fixed on the end goal. My end goal is to be cancer-free. And I will be.
Sometimes it’s hard to fight those thoughts of fear and doubt, but I’ve found that I am meant to rest in God. Only in Him can I find authentic relief. I was not created to fight this alone. None of us are. He has reminded me of that greatly throughout these past five days. On Sunday, pastors from South Africa came to speak at our church. I was amazed at how God used this man to speak directly to me. The message was titled “Hold On.” And one major point that stuck out to me was: “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” I’ve actually heard that saying twice since diagnosis from two separate sources. He’s obviously wanting me to absorb it! Holding on is all we have to do when things get rough. When you think you can’t possibly keep your grip any longer, find your strength in Jesus. He will give you rest. “Blah, blah, blah,” you may be thinking, but give it a shot. I promise you won’t be disappointed. But always keep in mind, our timing is not God’s timing. Be thankful for that; His timing is never wrong.
Like I mentioned, I’ve waited since last Friday to receive my PET scan results. I can finally announce, the waiting is over. I received a call from my nurse at my Radiation Oncologist’s office a little bit ago. She happily informed me that my scan came back… drumroll, please… “clear!” Praise God! After asking her if there were any possible traces of cancer in my body, she responded with “the scan shows absolutely no evidence of malignancies anywhere.” In English, this means there is no cancer in my body. None. I can proudly say that these last six months of treatment have worked! (Cue applause, hoots and hollers, jumping up and down, and tears of joy!) I am elated.
Where do things go from here? Realistically speaking, I am nowhere near the end of this journey. Not until I reach five years of clear, cancer-free scans will I be considered “in remission.” Until then, I will continue to get pelvic exams every three months, and PET scans every three to six months. This adventure isn’t over, and like I’ve talked about before, this next part of the story might indeed be harder than the beginning; The battle of protecting my mind from doubt is on. I will be fighting against the statistics of Neuroendocrine cancer. It’s gnarly. It’s aggressive. It can come back. I will most definitely have ups and downs, good days and bad days, but I will persevere. My hope is in Jesus. And He has promised to never disappoint. I’ll say it again, with Him, I will defeat this.
I’ve been asked several times how I’m feeling now that treatment is complete. After my blood transfusion, things have been on the up and up. I’m feeling more and more like ME with every day that passes. I’ve told Matt he has his wife back, and he’s pretty stoked about that! My energy is coming back, my body is starting to cooperate with me, and I no longer wake up and think “is today a good day or a bad day?” Most days prove to be great days. I haven’t touched on it much, but I gained quite a bit of weight during chemotherapy. In fact, I was shocked when the numbers on the scale continued to increase with every treatment. It’s actually not uncommon. Truth is, after I got diagnosed and was told what treatment I would be undergoing, I literally thought, “YES! Chemo-diet! It’ll be great to lose a few pounds!” How silly and naive of me. Chemotherapy is known to shut off your metabolism. Frankly, it throws your whole body out of whack. Yes, some people lose weight. A lot of people simply lose their appetites. As for me, I definitely didn’t. Nurses say it’s a good thing, however my scale says otherwise. Since my hysterectomy, I have gained about 25-30 pounds. Yuck. With the whacked metabolism, lack of energy, and extreme body pains, I was unable to be very active. Think couch potato. However, now that I am regaining more and more energy every day, I have been able to be more active.
Many of you can understand what gaining unwanted weight feels like. It sucks. And I really don’t like the way my body looks with these extra pounds clinging on. So, I’ve told myself, “if you can fight and beat cancer, you can whip your ass into shape, girly.” Ok, so I left the girly part off… whatever, that’s not the point. Since Wednesday, (8/22) I have been extremely committed to losing this extra weight and getting back into the shape I was before diagnosis. Hopefully I’ll be in better shape than before the craziness began! My commitment means working out five days a week (typically at 5:30am, yikes), and eating very clean. Thankfully I have my husband who is my teammate and accountability partner. Many of you know I am a vegetarian and have been for the past four years. I was vegan for an entire year, but that’s a totally different story. Don’t get me started. But although I’m a vegetarian, I’m a carboholic. I love carbohydrates. This new weight loss commitment has entailed me ridding myself of most carbs. I eat tons of fruits, vegetables, and find my protein in things like eggs and nuts. I can proudly say that what I’m doing is working! I’ve lost seven pounds already. My goal is to lose twenty pounds by the time Matt and I head to California for our “cancer-free” vacation in thirty days. I’ll keep you updated on my progress, and look forward to fitting into and wearing the jeans I wore eight months ago.
Oh, by the way, if you missed it… I’M CURRENTLY CANCER-FREE!
Romans 5:3-4 (NIV)
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
We’ve come a LONG way! Stephanie and Matt, August 2012