Bad news is always bad, but when you hear bad news on your birthday, it is the worst. Yesterday I celebrated 28 years of life. My family came to San Francisco from Oroville to be with me as I received the news about my test results from my cancer doctor.
Coming into the appointment I had assumed several things. I am young, so the tumor can’t be that big and they can just do some surgery and cut it out. Worst case they can take my left lung out, I like my right one better anyway. It can’t be that bad. So with my family all in the room, the doctor tells me that I have a large tumor on my lower left lung and that the lymph nodes on the left side are affected and they also found lymph nodes under my right lung that are also affected. That makes the cancer a stage IIIB which borderlines on stage IV. As soon as I heard that my ears began to ring as if a bomb had gone off next to my face. The doctor continued and said that because it is stage IIIB they cannot do surgery. He encouraged me that because I am so young and my general health is good that I have a slightly better chance of being cured than most others. I asked what makes IIIB different than IV, and he said that if it where IV they would help me be as comfortable as possible until the end. So basically I am on the edge of terminal.
This was not the news I was expecting and my thoughts now consisted of, ‘Why did we not know it was this bad before? Where did it it even come from? But it’s my birthday! When will I be able to breathe normally again? How long will all this take? Will I survive this? How am I suppose to feel right now? Stop. Jesus, please give me peace! Give me shalom.’
The doctor made several treatment suggestions and each one had plenty of risks. I could do the Chemo/Radiation which shows proven results in the shortest time but will take the hardest toll on my body leaving a lot of scar tissue. I could try some phase 1 experimental drugs that help the body see cancer cells as a threat and allow the white blood cells to target the cells for termination. This one sounds good but it has never been tested and their is absolutely no guarantee that it will work. Also, the side effects are unknown. I could seek out other alternative treatments from other cancer centers.
I asked the doctor what he suggested and he said I should do the most known and effective treatment, which is chemo/radiation which would be a 13 week process with daily treatments. He also suggested I get a second opinion which I am currently doing.
I am in complete shock right now: one day I have a normal life and feel great, and the next I have stage IIIB cancer and have to face difficult choices of how to deal with it.
After my appointment, I was so lost in thought that it was hard to be present with my family and friends. At shabbat dinner last night I told a few friends, ate dinner, and left early. I just needed to sit silently for a while and think and I still need to just “be” for a while and gather my thoughts. I feel like I have been knocked off my horse and broken both legs, making me immobile. Now I am praying and waiting on the Lord to move in my heart and be my strength.
Again I appreciate any comments or prayers you post during this time. Thank you for praying for me.