Cancer Treatment: Letting Go and Learning to Lean

Life is such a constant whirlwind just now. I had a dream last night that I was standing on the outside, looking into my life. Text tones were going off constantly from different parts of the house; phones were ringing; kids were lining up to ask questions; there was a steady hum of stress over being late for something; strangers were coming and going in our house; and Scott was trying his best to complete some task that required an Internet connection that he couldn’t manage to get for some reason. We were both about to hyperventilate from the stress, and later when I asked if he had completed the task, he told me that he hadn’t been able to because he was never able to get an Internet connection. And then we both had massive meltdowns. All the while, the constant texting and phone ringing and kids needing us continued. I remember looking in at this scene and, in my dream, thinking that it was all so insane that no one could deal with all of that at once. When I woke up, I was amazed at what an accurate picture it had been of our life at this moment. And I understood better why we are struggling to stay above the feelings of being overwhelmed.

We did manage to pull together the five birthdays we wanted to celebrate before we leave, but it almost killed us. Not many people know how much we’ve been struggling to hold life together over the past few weeks.

The March Birthdays

Tables for our three March birthdays – Ian, Erin, and Meghan


The April Birthdays

Group shot for our April birthdays – Robyn, and our grandson, Matthias

In addition to the already-scheduled appointments, Caelyn has also been having tremendous issues with one of her leg braces, resulting in multiple runs to her orthotist’s office, and a lot of time in her wheelchair instead of on her two feet. They finally decided to re-cast her for new braces on Monday, and we are hoping this will resolve her problems. She will have to take another trip into his office on Thursday to be fitted for these new braces.

The only reason we are still managing to function each day is because of all of the help God is sending us through our amazing friends. Once again, we marvel at our support system and the love that is daily showered upon our family.

Friends have dropped everything to transport Caelyn back and forth to her brace appointments while Scott and I have been dealing with other appointments. But they’ve also done so much more. One has spent hours baking up many, many batches of the homemade granola that has become a regular part of our family’s diet so that we can take that with us to Knoxville. And others have taken kids for haircuts; run errands to pick up prescriptions or groceries; dropped off food that has been left at our church for our family; mowed our lawn. We are just awed by these beautiful expressions of love and concern for our family, and we would not be surviving now without this amazing help. Thank you, thank you all!

Another area of great stress has also been an area of long-prayed-for blessing. The Rosenow House Project — after praying and raising funds for three and a half years — finally has the funds to finish our new kitchen! This blessing has resulted in much challenging activity right in the middle of our living space, and a long list of decisions that we’ve needed to make when we’ve had little mental energy or focus for making decisions. But when we return home from Knoxville in the middle of May, we will have a fully equipped, finished, and functioning new and bigger kitchen! Isn’t this just amazing?! We don’t have words to express our excitement over this news!

Nathan had his surgery on Monday. He is slowly recovering as we wait to see if this will finally resolve his pain issues and his inability to wear his prosthetic leg. Findings during the surgery, though, were very encouraging. His surgeon told us that the fascia over the muscles in the lower leg was stretched very tight over the muscle and sprang open when it was released. Also, there was a nerve being compressed by the fascia at one point, which was freed when she released the fascia. These are exactly the kinds of things you would expect to see if Exertional Compartment Syndrome were the correct diagnosis. So we are feeling very hopeful about this.

Nathan's Fasciotomy 3-21-16

Pre-op IV

Scott and I saw his doctor yesterday to discuss some recent bloodwork, and his PSA has continued to rise. This wasn’t a surprise. We already know that he has cancer. But it has left us very anxious to get on with this treatment and do all we can to rid his body of this.

We return to Knoxville on Easter Sunday where he will spend several days doing not-fun stuff to prepare for the beginning of his treatment. One of these will be a staging MRI that should tell us for sure if there has been any spread. I think we reported earlier that his biopsy results indicate that there is a 30% chance that the cancer has already spread outside of the prostate, so we are anxious to get the results of this MRI.

Because we leave on Easter Sunday, we had previously planned to try to do a family Easter dinner on Saturday. When I woke up this morning from the dream described above, I realized that I had to punt some things in order to reduce the stress the whole family is experiencing. I can’t control all of the unexpected medical issues, broken elevator, or sudden necessary car repairs, but I knew I had to choose to change some of the things I can control to reduce the stress. This was a hard decision because family time is so important — especially right now when we are about to be separated from our adult children and their families, and while we are all feeling the need to draw strength from each other. And making the decision to cancel our family Easter dinner left me feeling weak and like a failure.

As I came fully awake from the dream and the making of this decision, I went into our bathroom and saw a key on our countertop. This key, attached to a chain for wearing around the neck, was given to me as a gift just last night, along with a beautiful letter overflowing with love, by a dear friend who is fighting her husband’s cancer by his side. It’s called a Giving Key. Each of these keys is engraved with a word that represents something you are feeling a need for in  your own life. The idea is to wear this key until you reach a point when you no longer need it so badly and meet someone who needs it more than you do. At that time, you pass it on to this person. (You can learn about the story behind The Giving Keys here.)

The word engraved on the key from my friend, Emily, is “Strength.” How did she know that I was feeling so very much in need of strength just now? The answer to this question, is that she has already been walking this cancer path much longer than we have with her husband, Colton. One of the beauties of walking through trial and pain is the rich fertile soil that results from that experience. From this soil springs fabulous blossoms of compassion and understanding that allow the suffering one to reach out to others walking similar paths. Emily reached out to me. And my heart has been deeply touched.

Strength Key from Emily 3-22-16

I am wearing my key now, and I’m constantly reminded of my weakness and my need to reach out and take hold of God’s strength — right there for the taking by any of His children.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

God is determined to teach us the beauty of living in constant reliance upon Him. He wants us to learn more and more how to let go and lean into Him and embrace His plans for our lives. And as one of my children said, regardless of whether we eat a wonderful ham dinner or peanut butter and jelly, Jesus is alive! He has risen and saved us for all of eternity. Nothing will ever change that.

Colton and Emily would cherish any and all prayers as they continue to battle very serious cancer. If you’d like to link arms with them, please visit their blog.  And this post, specifically, includes a short video that will give you a good synopsis of their whole story.

We have so much to celebrate. So much to be thankful for. So much beauty to share with the world.

I long for the day when I grow up enough that I don’t lose sight of these things — the beauty, the thankfulness, the reasons to celebrate — even in the dark times; the times filled to overflowing with stress that can’t really even be explained to others; the times when rest seems to remain elusive.

The Lord is Risen. He is risen indeed!

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