Five years ago my wife found a lump in her breast and began a series of tests. It was determined to be invasive lobular carcinoma; breast cancer. She was hurried through surgery, then had two rounds of chemo, and finally a lengthy series of radiation therapy in an effort to eliminate the cancer. She had negative boundaries in her surgery and with the chemo and radiation everything looked positive. Her physicians were all confident that she was on the road to full recovery.
Each year she would go back for multiple exams and her energy levels began to return as her long, thick, curly hair began to grow out again. Two years ago she felt well enough to accompany our daughter Susy to the northwest and spent hours hiking the trails of Mount Rainier. Last summer she felt full of energy and planted her garden and worked in her flower beds. The physicians were pleased and began to back off on the frequency of her visits. As the five year mark approached, we thought we would soon have the good news that Jeanie was considered cancer free.
But only a few months shy of that important fifth anniversary she had a bad cold that left her without energy. She began to have pains that made her think she might have pulled a muscle. But when those pains seemed to be increasing and did not match the normal discomfort of a pulled muscle, she began to ask questions. The head of the cancer center at Summa Health Care felt it was a problem of some type of inflammation or infection not related to her cancer and sent her to our general practitioner. He felt it was a kidney infection and treated her for that. For two weeks she was pain free and it looked like that might have been the problem. Then the pains returned. She asked more questions and our general practitioner scheduled a CT scan.
About the time I was returning from Colombia, Jeanie went in for her CT scan. The results arrived just about the time I was to arrive home. They indicated areas of concern on her pelvic bone and a visit to the oncologist was scheduled. He read the results and said it could be explained by many things, such as osteoporosis or a bone infection, but given Jeanie’s history of breast cancer “we had to suspect the possibility of a metastasis of her cancer.” He scheduled a dizzying array of tests, including a CT scan, MRI, and bone scans. When those tests were pointing to a greater likelihood of cancer, he ordered a needle bone biopsy. A small hole was drilled into Jeanie’s pelvic bone and a core sample of bone was taken from an area of concern. Those results came back and we had our follow-up meeting with the oncologist on Tuesday, September 13th. He was grim faced as he walked in.
He informed us that the needle biopsy confirmed that her breast cancer had metastasized to her bones and was wide spread. It is stage four and not curable. There were some possible treatments that could only delay the inevitable but would bring many negative side effects. When we asked about prognosis he told us with treatment, maybe a few years, without treatment, maybe a few months. Jeanie is considering her options but is inclined to forego treatment because of the fact that they will significantly lower her quality of life for the time she has remaining. She will make that decision in the near future and I will support her and be there for her whatever she decides.
For the moment I will be taking no additional speaking dates as I want to dedicate myself to caring for my dear wife as she has dedicated herself to caring for me over these last 45 years. I will attempt to finish out the semester that I began teaching here at KCU before we knew of my wife’s situation. None of us can know what the future holds and we all live with the reality that “life is but a vapor, that appears for a short time then disappears.” But we know that we have a heavenly home that is much better than whatever we have here. We have a heavenly Father who is waiting to welcome us home. We ask for your prayers as we walk this difficult journey together.