Yesterday I arrived at the cancer center for my herceptin and cyberknife treatment. (A quick refresher: herceptin focuses on a protein in my cells. That protein, HER2, was present in my tumor. The idea is to kill off that protein in my body. In doing so, it has been proven to reduce risk of recurrence by 15%.) It is a year long treatment which I’ve been having every three weeks since last November, and I’ve been counting down the months, now the weeks, until this is over. “Soon,” I thought, “will be the last one, and I will be done with treatment.” I have held onto Thanksgiving and Christmas as my freedom celebrations to come.
I thought wrong. It seems the herceptin has damaged my heart, so they are holding off on treatment for now. For now. Those words hung in the air like humidity on a 100 degree southern summer day. My world reeled as I tried to grasp what this meant.
For those of you wondering what kind of damage… in rare cases, herceptin can cause congestive heart failure. That is why I was having periodic heart scans to monitor whether or not damage was occurring. Well, it occurred. The doctor said I would probably not feel anything from it, that there was a drop in my scan, but to be on the safe side they didn’t want to do any more treatment for a while. In six weeks they will do another heart scan to see if my heart has strengthened. If so, then they will start treatment back up again. If not… well, I’m still uncertain of the if not.
My sweet friend, Barb, was with me yesterday, and I am so thankful she was; I needed her eyes to see beyond my circumstances. To see beyond the fear of my heart weakening and the frustration of my life returning to limbo for a while. “Isn’t God good?” she smiled, “Years ago they may not have known to check your heart. Now, they can stop before any further damage is done.” I needed to have her reminder that God is in these details.
Through the night my thoughts were frenetic as I tried to grasp and answer the questions that swirled through my mind. Everything from, “What if I don’t get to finish treatment? What does this mean for future recurrence?” To, “Does this mean I won’t be able to go amusement parks and ride on roller coasters with my kids?”
I thought of the line from one of our favorite Caedmon’s Call songs, Hold The Light. “Jacob wrestled the angel, but I’m too tired to fight.” That is how it feels right now. I cried all afternoon yesterday, not even sure what emotions I was having or how to even process the discouragement and disappointment. I’m still in the place of wrestling this morning. The thing is, this could be the end of treatment. If my heart remains damaged, they won’t continue, so it all may be over. It’s the not knowing that causes me to struggle.
And once again I’m holding my open hands to the Lord saying, “Take everything. In surrendering all I am surrendering my treatment, my future, my questions to You.” And He is able. In all His wisdom, glory, strength, grace and compassion, He hasn’t made a single mistake yet. And He’s not going to make one now.
He holds my heart in His hands… in more ways than one.