Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lisa's tumor is back

I really need to get caught up on some blog posts for Christmas and going skiing as a family, but life has become so busy lately. In mid December Lisa went in for a routine 2 month MRI scan. They found a new tumor unfortunately. This time on her left hemisphere. It was too deep in a bad spot, so surgery wasn't an option. Her doctors decided to put her on a chemotherapy regiment called Avastin. In mid January she went in again for a follow up scan to see how her tumor was responding. Unfortunately it had tripled in size.
So I wanted to start doing a series of posts about her tumor for memory's sake.
Back in December I found out that the mom of one of my best friends from high school discovered that her esophageal cancer was back and looked terminal. I wrote her some words of encouragement. I wanted to make this post about those words I sent her.

First of all, I just wanted to say that my heart goes out to you and I'm so sorry to hear this. I'm so damn sick of cancer. Lisa just got news two weeks ago that her cancer is back as well, and unfortunately things are looking grim for her. Her tumor is an aggressive stage 4 glioblastoma and isn't operable due to it's location being too deep in her brain. This tumor will very likely be what takes her life. I apologize for the unsolicited advice, but I wanted to reach out to you and share some of my thoughts and feelings that I've had while wrestling with this challenge over the past 4 years.
While I personally don't have to suffer through the physical pain and anguish that you and Lisa have, I have had a front row seat to the ordeal. And I have unfortunately had to suffer much of the emotional agony and heartache associated with cancer and it's unforgiving attack on my wife. I have struggled with feelings of sorrow and feeling cheated. I feel cheated that the love of my life is going to most likely die far too young. The way we met and fell in love is honestly like a fairy tale. I feel cheated that I don't get to grow old with her. I feel cheated that I won't have her help and support to raise our four young kids together. And I feel cheated that at this stage of life instead of worrying about the more trivial aspects of life like most of my friends have to worry about, I am instead having to worry about some very complicated, very heavy, and very difficult problems.
I hate that this challenge is completely out of our control. I have a very type A personality, and I love to be in control of my life. This powerless feeling as I watch my wife's cancer repeatedly come back drives me insane. It's not like if we just try harder, if we just think harder, or if we just put more effort into recovery that we will be able to beat it. Yes having a good attitude helps, but ultimately when you have a stage 4 brain tumor, the cancer will take your life. That doesn't mean that cancer wins though. I love the words of Stuart Scott, "When you die, that does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live," he said. "So live. Live. Fight like hell. And when you get too tired to fight, lay down and rest and let somebody else fight for you."
Those words instantly bring me to tears. I love them. They are so true. They are words to live by. For me personally, I have to look for the good in life. Cancer sucks. It's really rotten and there is no way to sugar coat it. But, as terrible as Lisa's three brain tumors have been, we have still been able to find joy and beauty in life over the past four years. We have made a conscious decision to look for the good that surrounds us. As a result I have found immense joy in some of the most simple things like sunrises/sunsets, my children laughing, and just sitting next to my wife while watching a movie.
Above all else, I believe that to truly be able to find peace and joy throughout a harrowing trial like cancer, one must have a belief in a higher power. It is essential to believe that there is more to this life than our mortal existence. This belief can help you to transcend the pain, the heartache, the struggles, and the suffering that we experience in life. For me personally, my belief in a loving God helps me to face these challenges. I believe that God is watching out for us and that he wants us to be happy. This belief has been strengthened by powerful feelings of peace and comfort as I have turned my heart and life over to Him. I have experienced an undeniable feeling that everything is going to be alright. Whether that means that Lisa lives or dies, I can't say, but I can say that the Lord will be there to help us, to carry us, and to comfort us regardless of the outcome.
I also believe that we cannot grow or become better individuals without being stretched beyond our comfort zone. Just like with weight lifting, our muscles need to be pushed beyond what is easy. Pain and struggle and effort are necessary to increase our muscle size and strength. The same goes for us as people. Without these struggles and trials, there is no way we would be able to grow. I believe that God allows these struggles to help us become better, stronger and to more easily become the person that God knows we are capable of becoming if we turn our heart to Him and tackle these trials with the right mentality.
It's not easy. It's very hard right now for Lisa and me. I wish we didn't have to go through this. I really do enjoy the easy path. But despite the difficulty of these past four years, I have found a lot of joy, I have grown so close to Lisa, I have felt the presence of God in my life, and my belief in Him has grown tremendously. I am a much more patient person. I am much more compassionate and sympathetic towards other people and the challenges that they are facing. And I am much stronger and much more able to tackle the challenges that life inevitably throws our way.
Stay strong. Stay positive. Find the good in your life. I love you and will pray for you and your family!s