Daniel and I thank you for the many, many prayers that you’ve offered on our behalf over the last year or so. We are thankful and humbled by the rally that has come around us. We are asking you, now, to continue to keep our family lifted in prayer. The short version is that the doctors have found a spot in his abdomen that is neither lymph node nor cancer but, presumably, somewhere in between. The biopsy revealed it is “suspicious and similar” to the cancer that was removed last year. His blood tests haven’t indicated cancer. So…the mystery area will be coming out. Wednesday he is scheduled to have this major surgery. It will be a five hour procedure followed by 4-5 days in the hospital. We know our God is faithful and mighty. We know He is with us. Our prayer is (obviously) for Daniel to be completely healed of cancer and for this story to be used for God’s glory. Our hope is in an unfailing God. Thank you for standing with us this Wednesday and the days that follow. You are dear to us.
Just as he pulled into the driveway his phone rang. He listened for a moment and gave me a thumbs down. It was the call from the doctor confirming he had a tumor. Our bags were packed for Asia and we were set to leave in four days. The doctor recommended we cancel our trip and schedule surgery immediately. We opted to schedule surgery after the trip. The doctor would email when the test results came back determining if it was cancer or not. We called our pastors, our parents and our team members. We told our kids and two dear friends. That’s it. We were determined to focus on the mission: reach unreached people with God’s love and encourage leaders to do the same. Fast forward a week or so to me sleeping the night (morning?) before the pastors conference began. Because of the time change the email came at a weird time and Daniel woke me to tell me the tests confirmed cancer. My favorite part of the email was “I hope you’re having a nice trip”. I honestly don’t remember either of us having a response other than “Ok…far from ideal but this doesn’t change our mission”. I don’t have a clear memory of telling our parents or kids the news. That’s a mixed blur of jet lag and rice. We were believing God to care for us regardless. We didn’t talk about it the rest of the trip much. Not because of great faith but because of a great grace God has so kindly given to us.
That email came one year ago today. It’s weird. He graduated from chemo in the fall. At the moment the doctor’s reports are good. It’s on a month-to-month basis and we haven’t been given an “all clear” from anyone. His blood counts are good as of the last test but there some mystery spots sticking around in his abdomen that no one knows what to do with. He has another round of tests in a couple of weeks and each round leads to blood count and possible surgery discussions. It kind of stinks that his beloved doctor has changed practices. If you think of that please pray for us concerning these matters.
We are…good. It feels like cancer is still hovering around and we are ready for it to be gone. We seem to have mostly caught our breath and life has been in this mandatory (sometimes welcome, sometimes stir-crazy causing) pause. We have moments of freak out and fear but thankfully and usually the other one of us is calm in those moments. We long for Asia and what’s ahead but are trying to be good stewards of this slowed time. I held it together until roughly 48 minutes after he was feeling better. The “after” was much harder for me as I processed and cried and puddled and learned. But we are better for it. We know God didn’t author or send this cancer but we are thankful for His goodness that is allowing us to be changed deeply by it. Jesus, be glorified.
(Disclaimer: Sweeping statements and generalizations are used to avoid choppy wording that constantly attempts to appropriately qualify ideas. If they don’t apply or are offensive to you, well…sorry.)
There have been waves of teaching and talking within humanitarian circles lately about not being the “white missionary”. Americans have, at times, come in to a new place with pride, privilege, savior mentalities and do more harm than help. While I’ve not seen anyone write directly “stop going”, knee-jerk reactions to the harm caused might lead one to draw conclusions that, sometimes, we should stop going and rather just send money to those working within their own culture.
I’ve read, valued, processed, learned from and appreciated these writings. There is truth to these thoughts but, at the same time, something in my gut was very much bothered.
It is human nature to have a pendulum type response. One generation responds to the stale religion of the previous generation with an over-corrected idea of grace that often time lacks righteousness. It is in this pendulum swinging behavior that I’ve realized my problem with these ideas. This is a dangerous way to respond to error yet it’s human nature.
But here’s the thing. We are commanded to “Go into all the world”. The Author of the plan to spread to Good News has entrusted us with it. If we don’t share it, it won’t be shared. The Church is His very plan to help.
I’m not dismissing these teachings…but requesting that we don’t dismiss the command with the desire to use caution in properly executing the command. Read these books, be challenged by them but don’t let the fear of harming stop us from moving forward.
When we help we should help like Jesus did. He humbled himself, He did not consider His position something to be grasped. We do not help because we are better, we help because we can and because we are commanded to. Woe to us if we do not preach the Gospel.
It’s been a while since we’ve shared an update about Daniel. So, how are we?
Short answer: We’re fine. Thanks. 🙂
Longer answer: We are fine but stillllllll waaaaaiiiiiting. Chemo ended in September and we’ve never been given an “all clear”. The first scan after chemo showed a spot in his lymph nodes / abdomen that wasn’t there before chemo. It’s either 1) cancer 2) a terratoma (a non-cancerous growth that will need to be surgically removed) or 3) inflammation from the chemo. We waited a couple months and he got another scan in December. The spot had shrunk 3mm. Good news, but not good enough. From there the doctors took his case to another few doctors and then to a panel of surgeons and oncologists. The opinions were split right down the middle between operate and wait. We opted to wait.
His next scan will be in March. If the spot has grown he will have pretty major surgery. If it’s shrunk it’s our understanding his body is healing. If it’s the same, well, no one really knows what to do and we will mostly likely go to some specialists out of state.
He also has some lingering side effects from the chemo… Neuropathy (constant pins and needles since September) in his hands and feet. He’s always walking and moving things at work and that causes more pain. It’s supposed to get better over time.
We are looking forward to getting the next scan and, hopefully, moving on from here. We are thankful for your prayers. We have hope!
The “next guy” talked with the “last guy” and they agreed to wait one more month and do some more tests. The question is if he’ll need major surgery or not after that. Of course, that’s not ideal but at the same time we know God is with us and is caring for us. We trust he will be healed. Our God is the Creative One who authored both miracles and medicine. Thank you for your continued prayers…it makes a significant difference in our days and lives.
The Word of God says in 2 Timothy 4:17 “The Lord stood with me and strengthened me”.
So. He’s well over a month out of chemo. His hair is coming back in (not white or red — they said it happens!). He has been feeling about normal.
The last several weeks his last set of tests have been getting passed between oncologists, panels of surgeons and specialists. The general consensus has been a resounding, “We think you’re ok but there’s this one thing I’m not sure about. Ask the next guy…” . Honestly, exhausting to hear. We meet with “the next guy” Thursday. We’d appreciate continued prayers on our behalf. The missions conference is just a few days after that. We find it ironic that we met with the same guy a few days before Cambodia when this cancer chapter began.
We are tired. I’m pretty sure it’s okay to admit that. This whole catching our breath business is much harder than we even anticipated. But. But we know Who we believe in and we know He is with us always. That in itself is a big exhale. We are ready to rest — and then ready to push forward.
Thanks be to God who always loves and cares. He is good.
Tomorrow (or today if you’re reading this Friday) is his last day of chemo. I’m relieved, I’m happy to be done with this business…but celebrating isn’t my first response.
It’s odd. From the outside looking in, within the coming weeks so long as the cancer is gone as we hope, our life will look “normal” again. Our days will look like this never happened. And yet my heart feels far from normal. As much I as miss the days of our regular busy-ness with school, life, ministry and parenting returning to that seems _________________ (impossible? unlikely? not right? disrespectful?) I can’t quite find the word to fit the feeling. Our lives and our focus will be refined and adjusted.
This time has been diffucult, amazing, blessed, hard, exhausting. We’ve had prayers answered and God show up in ways that blow us away on days when his nausea wouldn’t leave. Friends and family have loved for us in ways that leave us without a way to find words but only tears. We’ve been so cared for that everything was done for us that could be done yet we had to carry the biggest burden of our lives alone with our Lord.
Our armor feels a bit banged up and perhaps disheveled. But it’s there. And that’s what armor is for. God’s faithfulness hasn’t left us for a moment.
I long for a memorial, a testimony, a collective deep breath for our family. We are not satisfied with only the cancer leaving. We want God to be glorified as a result of us stumbling and being carried through this season both by our support system and, even more so, Jesus. Please continue to keep us in prayer. The exit of this season seems near-daunting…but we know our Lord is Emmanuel, God with us.