I imagine some of you are wondering about my oncology appointment yesterday. I have had a hard time processing what this actually means, but I will do the best I can to explain. Perhaps then I may understand it also.
Two weeks ago I learned that there was a 95% chance that I had stage 4 lung cancer; a week ago I learned that the cancer had not spread beyond the lungs and lymph nodes and that the cells from the biopsy would be genetically tested, but the same statistic—95%—was still the likely outcome.
Yesterday the other 5% became relevant.
The genetic profile indicated that the cells are not lung cancer. All of the cancer is in both lungs, in the bronchial tubes and lymph nodes in the lungs and in the neck; however, the cells tested are not lung cancer.
The genetic profile indicates that the cancer cells are most like ovarian cancer cells (70% likely). The cells are NOT ovarian cancer cells but are LIKE ovarian cancer cells. I had a complete hysterectomy 26 years ago and have no ovaries.
Of the cells tested, 85% have a positive estrogen receptor. A week ago, I started taking an anti-estrogen drug, and I’ll have a CT scan on March 15 to see if the cancer is shrinking. If so, then I’ll be taking this drug from now on; if not, then chemotherapy may be the next step.
Confused? I know. This is bizarre.
When I asked if this was good news, the oncologist said that this offered more options for treatment and also a better prognosis. I still have stage 4 cancer (as evidenced by the PET and CT scans and also by the biopsy); however, it’s not lung cancer.
Last Sunday fellow faculty member Matt Brown responded to my email about the PET scans finding no new cancer with these words: “In my classes I’ve been praying for either nothing new, less than they thought, or no cancer at all. We’ll keep praying that stuff out of here!”
I believe that those prayers are being answered in a way that only God understands.
I believe that He is doing something in my life through this experience and that I must trust that He knows the unknowns.
I believe that He will do with the cancer what He wills and when He wills.
I believe that I will learn more about Him and about patience and about grace and about mercy.
My life continues to be weird, but God is always good.