Cancer Treatment: The Beginning of the “Lasts”

“Most of us know what home is. There is music in the name which no words can describe. It is not locality or scenery which makes home. Home is the center of love; the spot where the spirit, worn and jaded with life’s bustle, harassed with its anxieties and disappointments, delights to fold its weary wing — that blessed refuge where cherished tones chase sorrow from the heart, and tender hands smooth the wrinkles which care has been ploughing on the cheek.”
~ John MacDuff (1818-1895)

We have started on our list of “lasts” now. Friday was Scott’s last proton treatment, and our last Friday to sleep in Knoxville. Yesterday was our last Saturday in Knoxville. Today is our last Sunday. This afternoon was our last time to swim in the pool here.

We made a decision before we left Cincinnati to not count down days while we were here in TN. Since my brother’s death over thirty-six years ago, we always have tried hard to focus on never wasting one minute of life here on earth — even the seemingly bad ones. We firmly believe that all of our minutes are ordained by the Great Author of our lives; therefore, every moment is precious, has lessons for us to learn, and represents a possible opportunity for us to be used by Him. And we never know how many moments we have left together in this world, so it would be foolish to waste any of them.

So, for the most part, we have managed to be pretty much “in the moment” each day during our time here. This house, named “The Sanctuary” by the owners, really did become a home for us; “a blessed refuge where cherished tones chase[d] sorrow from the heart. We are all realizing that we will feel some sadness when we drive away from here on Friday. We’ll miss our country-road walks; the beautiful drive through the woods when we head into or back from town; the cows and baby goats close to the house; the sunset over the lake.

But we are also missing many things about home, and sometimes not wishing days away is easier said than done. As we’ve neared the end of this journey here in Knoxville and our hearts have begun to turn toward our drive back to Cincinnati, we have found it a little hard not to begin ticking off these markers that lead us home.

When we head down through this wooded country road for the last time on Friday morning, though, it will be with hearts full of cherished memories and much gratitude to God for bringing our whole family to such a beautiful, peaceful, and healing place for this short season in our lives.

We are also so thankful that all of our adult children and their families were able to visit with us during this last week of treatment. Ryan and Anna were even able to be here for Scott’s bell ringing ceremony on Friday. This was an informal yet very touching way to mark his last proton treatment. This short video will share a little bit of the emotion we all felt during this special moment.

This photo tells the story behind the ringing of a bell to celebrate the end of cancer treatment.

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We decided, from the beginning, to stay on here for a few days after Scott finished his treatment for a couple of reasons. We wanted to give the house team plenty of time to finish up things on the kitchen, and we didn’t want to feel too squeezed in trying to pack up to move back home. But Scott’s side-effects from the treatment, while still not like side-effects from other cancer treatments, have been pretty bad. His doctor described them as “way above average” in terms of severity, and told us that out of hundreds of patients, Scott is only the third to struggle so much. So we are very thankful that he will have this week to rest up and to let his body begin recovering from the radiation before we drive back home.

The rest of the week holds a couple more days of really intense school, then some packing before we head home on Friday morning. Recent pictures seem to indicate that our new kitchen is finished and ready for us, and Kathryn (who will turn twelve tomorrow) is so excited that her birthday dinner will be the first cooked in that new kitchen after we get back home and celebrate her birthday a little late.

Here are few pictures of the past few days. As always, thank you so much for the prayers and constant encouragement you all have sent our way.

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We made blackberry cobbler as a mini “almost-finished-with-treatment” celebration two days before Scott’s last proton therapy session

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Our four youngest all ready to go watch Daddy ring the Victory Bell

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Presentation of Scott’s certificate of completion at the bell-ringing ceremony

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Most of the key team members who cared for Scott during his treatment here

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All of our family members who were present, along with some of the staff of Provision. So very thankful for all of these people who took such good care of our whole family.

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After Scott’s ceremony, we all went out for a Mexican dinner to celebrate.

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The name of the restaurant was El Burro Flojo (The Lazy Donkey). Our server made sure the younger ones each got a turn “riding” the lazy donkey before we left.

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Kathryn and I took a few of her sisters along for our walk yesterday

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Carlin’s little sisters, watching her pick wild daisies

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Kathryn with our little wild daisy bouquet

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Last time to swim today — Erin’s little dog Teddy and Nolan watching the older kids play Frisbee in the pool

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While watching these two play on the side of the pool today, I was reminded by their twisted little bodies that there are a number of surgeries and lots of life waiting for us back in Cincinnati. It’s time…

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Scott asked to wait until we are all home together to celebrate Mother’s Day, but these flowers from our walk yesterday were a sweet reminder of how blessed among mothers I am.

 

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