The more things change, the more they remain the same.
I guess I’m more familiar with the process by now after 1 year of clinical trials at Sarah Cannon. I know how to pack my day bag, to dress for EKG and port and blood-draw accessibility, and to wait through the day (and often evening). I’m actually at peace on cycle 1 day 1, unlike how I am in the few days leading up to any new trial. Of course, that’s how I anticipate any big event: going over all of the details and hoping I haven’t forgotten anything big. Then I wake up extremely early and feel God settle me down.
My friend Sue picked me up at 6:10 AM, and we were off. First day of a trial takes place in a separate room where I can be carefully monitored as the timetable begins. It’s been a long time since I had Benadryl as a pre-med, and so I was surprised about (but also appreciative of) being asleep from 11:30-3:30. Then comes a long 5-hr waiting period of blood draws and observations to see how my body is processing the study drug.
Everyone at Sarah Cannon is professional and personal and encouraging, and I will leave with documents for everything. This week will be busy because I have labs for the next 3 days and other appts for the next 3 weeks. Cycle 2 will be much the same, and then we’ll see how the treatment is going when scans are ordered at the end of two cycles. If I’m responding well, beginning with cycle 3 in about 6 weeks I’ll have only day 1 on my schedule with no other appointments in between those first days of each cycle. That will be nice.
Also, after my initial diagnosis 2.5 years ago, I’m getting better at asking questions and understanding answers. While my cancer remains weird (my word), it is becoming easier for me to grasp, I think. For some reason, the cancer cells have decided to make my lymph system, particularly the nodes, their home. The good thing is that they have been content to stay in the nodes; the not-so-good thing is that there are lymph nodes throughout the body. When I am receiving some kind of treatment (with a chemo element), the cells can be managed and the C-125 marker diminishes to within a normal range. When I’m not on a treatment or when the cancer cells decide they have the power to block treatment, the tumors grow and/or spread, and the marker rises. Managing this process with the right combination of drugs requires tremendous knowledge and skill, and I am blessed to have the resource of a world-class facility in Nashville like Sarah Cannon Research Institute, a place that does all of this so very well. What a gift from the Lord SCRI and its people are to me!
And after 2.5 years, I’m learning how much easier life is for me when I breathe in and out, when I stay in the moment and be thankful, and when I don’t run ahead of myself. I find it’s also easier to listen and respond to the signals my body gives me because they seem clearer at times now. You may not realize this, but other than the large tumor in my neck (the place that was radiated) I have no pain or discomfort from the cancer, just from the treatment—but the treatment is what keeps the cancer in check. It’s a circle to be sure, but not a vicious cycle; the more things change, the more they remain the same. God is here; I am not alone.
Hearing the still, small voice of God is not a lesson learned once and then remembered for always. It’s a daily surrender that God’s people experience every moment. Bottom line is that I’m doing okay. I keep going back to the beginning, and I’m confident that none of this depends upon my input.That definitely is a relief!
Right now I’m waiting for the final blood draws at 6:14 and 8:14 PM and then James will drive me home. Benadryl means that I can’t drive, so that’s another decision I don’t have to make. It’s quiet here on the Drug Development Unit on the 2nd floor, and God has been calling to my mind how much I have to be thankful for. I pray that I can be faithful in the moment, that I can trust Him with the details, and that I will express my gratitude for those near and far who are praying and caring.
May you enjoy the last week of August and find rest in your moments.