Four days ago, I anxiously sat in a crowded reception area of the radiology department of the hospital, waiting for my name to be called. Eventually, the tech led me down the long hall to the tiny room designated for PET scan patients. The nurse, who coordinates the needle sticks and dispenses the barium, waved, greeting me by name. I am a frequent flier in this place, a repeat customer. They know me here.
After sitting for an hour so that the radioactive poison could make its way through my bloodstream, I was led to the procedure room by yet another tech and instructed to lie on the narrow bed which leads into the tube of the scanner. She and I made small talk. I have a theory about this crucial part of the test. If the person who prepares you for the procedure comes out of the control room when it is all over and escorts you out, it is a good sign. They have seen the computer screen, which lights up like a Christmas tree if cancer is present. It is hard to look a person in the eye after that, to pretend that everything is fine when they know it isn’t and you don’t. Not everyone is a skilled actor. When she returned to announce that it was all done, I smiled. I always cling to any indication that might give me hope. Her cheerful goodbye did.
Today, I met with my medical team to get the results.
My heart raced as the doctor read the report. The large tumor lodged in my left lung is gone. The malignancies in my chest and neck lymph nodes have also disappeared. There are no longer any cancerous cells dancing around my liver. For quite some time, I have been fighting a rather large inoperable mass in the pre sacral space, which is no longer highly active and has instead been reduced to a region of indeterminate inflammation, scar tissue from a previous bowel resection and various pockets of fluid. My tumor markers have returned to normal. I began to cry.
Apparently, I am somewhat of a medical wonder. It is highly unusual for someone with stage IV cancer that has returned six times, someone who has undergone seven different unsuccessful courses of treatment with no remission, to suddenly find themselves showing no evidence of progression or metastatic disease. I am reminded that my chart approximated my life expectancy in mere months at diagnosis. That makes me quite the topic of discussion.
But they don’t know my Jesus, my Great Physician. They don’t understand how many prayer warriors have lifted me up, raising their voices to the heavens on my behalf. This is their miracle, too, the validation that God truly listens to those petitions whispered in earnest. He is good, always.
My love language is acts of service. I didn’t realize it until recently, but I am always touched when someone does something to help me. And I will never forget the love I have felt from the many people who have walked this rocky road with me, carrying me when I was unable to take another step. They are true angels.
This afternoon, I had bloodwork following the appointment with my doctor. The nurses in the infusion center were waiting for me, anxious to share in the joy of this good news, our good news. We laughed and we cried together. They’ve been in the trenches with me for almost five years. And they, too, have prayed for my healing.
I will continue with chemo for three more rounds, which is six infusions, to eliminate any residual, microscopic cells. I know it won’t be easy. The treatment that got me to this place is pretty brutal, but I can do it. I have a renewed resolve and a newfound strength.
I joked about booking my lecture tour to share my testimony and sing the praises of a kind and faithful God, who loves us completely and never fails us. I intend to shout my good news to anybody willing to listen. Blessings are meant to be shared.
I like to consider myself a wordsmith, but I find it difficult to truly express what I am feeling at this moment. I am grateful, so grateful. I don’t know what tomorrow may bring: none of us do. But I am joyful and optimistic about tomorrow in a way I haven’t allowed myself to be for almost five years.
Keep the faith, my friends. I know this much is true: each breath is a divine miracle, a precious gift. I also know that today is the first day of the rest of my life, and I fully intend to live it. Now, it is time to celebrate!