“Providence so orders the case, that faith and prayer come between our wants and supplies, and the goodness of God may be the more magnified in our eyes thereby.”
~John Flavel (c.1627–1691)
We are seeing this very principle played out in astonishing ways as God continues to lead us along this new path in our lives.
We have completed our first trip to Knoxville, and this is all seeming very real to us now. Not that we were ever in denial, but the busy-ness of life had allowed us to somewhat keep it at a distance in our minds and even on an emotional level. We are past that now.
As we drove up to the Provision Proton Center where Scott will receive his daily treatments, we were a little surprised at the intensity of the emotions that unexpectedly rushed to the surface for both of us. We held hands and walked into the front doors as Scott described the physical sensations of these emotions as, “a whole bunch of four-footed creatures running around in his chest.” I would agree with that.
But that happened toward the end of this, our first trip to Knoxville. I’ll back up a little and fill you in on what took place before that moment.
Our rainy drive from Cincinnati to Knoxville was pleasant and uneventful in spite of the occasional down-pours.
We arrived early Wednesday evening at the house where we will be staying during Scott’s treatment, and the owner, Rhonda, met us there. She and her husband offered the two of us free use of their house during this brief trip. This was a huge help financially and it gave us a great opportunity to check things out and make sure the house would work with wheelchairs and lots of little paralyzed legs. We spent a couple of hours with her that evening as she walked us through the house and expressed how thankful they are to be a part of this story.
The house is spotlessly clean and has such a restful atmosphere to it. Rhonda and her husband call the property, “The Sanctuary,” and after spending two nights there, we feel it’s a perfect choice for a name.
We spent Thursday morning planning out sleeping arrangements for all of the kids. It’ll be tight (except for the kitchen), and there will be some inconveniences to work around (no Internet, which we have to have for school and the running of The Shepherd’s Crook; only one fairly small washer and dryer; fewer bathrooms; etc.) But as Scott said, “We’re talking about cancer treatment here, not a Disney vacation,” and we are inexpressibly grateful for this house and the beauty of God’s creation surrounding it.
The property is beautiful, although the uneven terrain will prove somewhat challenging for some of the children, (after Erin’s terrible fall at the lake house in AL during our October trip, we will guard her carefully when she walks her dog). 😊 But there are a few fairly level areas where our non-walkers will be able to play safely. And there’s so much there for the imaginations of our creative kids — a small island to explore, a mountain to climb, and woods galore. Once I can figure out how to handle my fear of snakes in the south, they should all be able to make some amazing memories during this trip.
On Thursday afternoon, we wandered down into Knoxville to check out options for groceries, etc. We were happy to find a Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and Target. We should be set.
As we pulled into the Target parking lot so we could grab a few things we had forgotten to pack, we got a call on Scott’s cell phone.
In our last post, we shared that this house had been offered to us for $7000, that we had been awarded a $2000 grant to help with housing costs, and that we still needed another $5000 to cover the cost of the house for one month. Well, this phone call was from a person in CA we’d never even heard of. He is a friend of a friend, and he had heard about Scott’s cancer diagnosis and our large family and unusual needs. He had actually heard that we were still short $5000 to cover the cost of a house for the family and he was calling to say that he and his wife wanted to cover that expense. He stated that he could imagine that worrying about housing would be the last thing he’d want to deal with in the course of cancer treatment, and they wanted to lift that burden from us. They are Christians and want to pass on the blessings God has given them, whenever and wherever they can. We were—and still are—stunned by this, but we’re also very thankful that this need has been met. We love it so much when God makes it clear that answers to our prayers are coming only from Him.
That brings us to Friday, where I started this update. We were pleasantly surprised at the warm, helpful environment we walked into when we passed through the front doors of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. This is clearly a place full of compassionate people who are trained and ready to embrace families who are dealing with life-changing news, difficult decisions, and financial confusion.
I’ll summarize the long afternoon there by saying that although we were initially told that no definite plans for treatment could be made until after their insurance department had determined for sure what our insurance will do, once the doctor heard about our family situation and the fact that the children’s surgeries are being put on hold until we can get this treatment for Scott behind us, he told us to tell them what schedule we needed and that they would make it happen.
So the two of us will return to Knoxville again on Easter Sunday (3/27). Scott will have a staging MRI done to determine whether or not the cancer has spread outside of the prostate on Monday, 3/28; on Tuesday, 3/29, he will have gold markers inserted inside his body to assist in the aiming of the proton beam; on Wednesday, 3/30, they will do a CT scan and a treatment simulation and create the specially designed “pod” Scott will be placed in each day for treatment. All of these steps are just small pieces of a very precise science that ensures that the proton beam is just the right strength and always hitting exactly the right spot. We will return home on Thursday, 3/31.
This fairly lengthy trip was not something we were expecting, but it was not a surprise to God. He already sent the money to cover this trip from dear friends who have known us since our early days of marriage in Ft. Meade, Maryland. Once again . . . amazing.
On April 8, we will leave Cincinnati with our whole family and our three dogs, and drive to Knoxville. We still haven’t figured out exactly how we will get all of our necessaries there with us. (We have been asked if any of our adult kids are coming with us. No, they will all be staying here, although they are all hoping to make at least one trip over at some point to spend some time with us during this process.)
Treatments will begin on April 11 and will occur every day, Monday through Friday, for a month. Scott’s doctor there felt that he was a good candidate for the one-month protocol instead of the two-month protocol because Scott responded so well to the medication prescribed for him by the doctor here who did his biopsy. However, he warned us that this could change if they find anything unexpected in his MRI on 3/28, or if that MRI indicates that the cancer has spread outside of the prostate.
We left the center that evening trying to process a lot of info that was tossed our way. We were so happy to have been able to get the schedule laid out with such certainty as this will help us a lot with our planning, but we also learned that the treatment itself will be harder on Scott physically than we first thought. These difficulties are supposed to resolve about a month after treatment is completed, but it was one more reminder that we are dealing with an ugly and foreign bunch of abnormal cells growing inside of his body, and that it takes a battle to kill them.
We are moving forward on faith at this point, but we hope to have a much clearer picture sometime this week of what our insurance company is going to do.
It’s important to point out that donations for Scott’s cancer treatment can’t come through The Shepherd’s Crook. It would be a violation of TSC’s tax-exempt status if we were to accept donations through TSC for Scott’s medical care. So we are so grateful to those who have asked to help, but there is no way for gifts toward this to be tax-deductible. Our son-in-law has actually set up a GoFundMe account for those who have asked to help financially. We will share that link soon, but we are hoping to have a clearer picture of how much we will need to raise before sharing it. We should have that information later this week, we hope.
Thank you so much for the continued prayers and letters and to those who so lovingly fed our family while we were gone. To all of you who have been writing to ask what we learned in Knoxville, your questions are expressions of love to our hearts.
Tomorrow (Monday), we will travel back to Indianapolis to meet with Nathan’s specialist and discuss Nathan’s most recent tests. It’s beginning to look like he may need surgery on his leg, but we don’t yet know how soon that can happen. We’ll keep you posted on that, too.
We have much ahead of us before we have our family settled in that house in Knoxville, and there are still a lot of unknowns, but God has already laid many pieces so beautifully in place. Even after all of the miracles we’ve seen through the years of bringing home our children, we have been astounded as we’ve watched what He is already doing in this part of our story. We feel peace about what’s ahead. Thank you for being a part of this with us.