saturday, may 11, 2013.
While we can say with certainty that God is healing our hearts, we soon discover my body is moving in a different direction. I am diagnosed with a rare, but highly curable (if treated in time) form of cancer called Gestational Trophablastic Disease (GTD). My girlie doctor says it's not quite cancer, but on Thursday afternoon the experts at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance tells us differently. At some point after conception, our baby's placental tissue rapidly grows out of control and takes over all that is in my womb. A chromosomal abnormality: this is why we lose our baby. Surgery is all that is required the vast majority of the time, but in my case they are unable to remove a small amount of placental tissue, and those remaining cells take root and multiply. My body recognizes the cells as something like stem cells, and welcomes them accordingly -- it doesn't know the cells are cancerous, and it doesn't fight them. Three different doctors independently verify my condition, and we see the test results and images with our own eyes. They tell me that, if left untreated, the usual course of events is for the tissue to grow and spread, making its way through the wall of the uterus, and taking over the liver and lungs on its way to the brain. The hormone level they use to evaluate and estimate the size of the cancer, called hCG, is quite high in my case. A month after miscarriage my body still thinks I'm pregnant. They help me understand how urgent it will be for me to start chemo right away if my level is a mere 100 -- mine is 5,300. They implore me to start chemo the following day, but our son is a very devoted nursling and I must wean him first. I wish for a month and ask for a week. They give me four days, and a happy insurance glitch bumps it up to six. I am scheduled to start chemotherapy on Wednesday, at the crack of dawn.
I'm not afraid. Historically, I'm rock solid during intense, high risk situations. It's the little things that I traditionally struggle to tolerate. I grieve the loss of many things. My heart aches deeply over having to break trust with Little Buddy by weaning him so abruptly and in such a short amount of time when he is clearly not yet ready. My body feels tired just thinking of losing even more sleep (having not slept much or well since our son was born) due to getting up at 530 every morning for treatment. My hope wanes as I consider the long-term effects of treatment and accept that we will likely choose not to have another child after pumping my body full of toxins, as we already fall into the high risk "geriatric pregnancy" category.
We reach out to our people. We lay down our pride and ask them to pray for an all out miracle. We know many put their faith in Christ as we do, and at least as many don't believe in God or aren't the praying type... but we ask them to pray for my healing all the same. I know first hand that a beautiful miracle sometimes looks a lot like a devastating tragedy until the story has a little time to unfold. We are sad but we are not sorry that this is our story. It is an understatement to say that the road is hard and we are spent... but we are also changed. Tragedy, it turns out, can be an amazing vehicle for transformation. Neither one of us would give up the beautiful ways we are being changed through this difficult season in order to save ourselves from the sorrows we are suffering, or may yet suffer. And as we stand here at this fork in the road, we don't know if God's gonna do a crazy miracle or if he's gonna lead us down a deep, dark rabbit hole, but we will follow him wherever he takes us.