Last week we completed round 5 of 6 rounds of chemo. The further we get into the treatment, the harder it becomes. Chemo has a cumulative effect, so each round builds on the previous one and the side effects often become stronger and more frequent. We’ve certainly noticed. My stamina has decreased significantly and my stomach pain has increased. I’ve been spending a lot of time sleeping and taking more days off of work to rest. Finding balance has been tough, but we are hanging in there, and reminding ourselves to take one day at a time. It’s so easy to get discouraged through this journey, and admittedly, there are days that I truly just want to stay in bed and cry. I know that’s a normal response, but not one of which I’m particularly fond. I suppose I thought I would breeze right through chemo and it would only affect me as much as I allowed. Boy, was I wrong! Daily I am reminded it’s not my own strength that will get me through this, but Christ’s strength in me. Some days I do a better job leaning into His strength than others though. I pray my witness and testimony continue to shine through – even on the hard days.
We are so very appreciative of all your prayers and encouragement, meal deliveries, cards, hugs and thoughtfulness to our family. It means a great deal to the four of us and we are incredibly blessed with so many caring, kind friends and family. Next week I will complete my final round of chemo. It will be a bittersweet ending. The fatigue and stomach pain will eventually fade and my hair will start to grow back. Some of the side effects won’t go away, however. Recently, we learned that the chemo has caused severe hearing loss in both of my ears, and I’ll be fitted for hearing aids soon. Thankfully, I haven’t lost all my hearing, nonetheless, the hearing loss is a hard pill to swallow and another new normal to which we must adjust. Sometimes, learning to balance involves a whole lot of wobbling until our gait is steady again. And, right now, I feel like a wobbly, hot mess.
We also know that the chemo has been effective in shrinking the tumors and slowing the growth of the cancer. What a blessing! When I finish my 6th round, chemo will no longer part of our treatment plan and the cancer will eventually start to grow again. When that will happen is anyone’s guess, but we are encouraged that about 40% of patients tend to go one to two years without growth and the need for additional treatment. We pray that is the case for me, plus some! When the cancer does grow again, however, immunotherapy will likely be our next step and then ultimately clinical trials. There is strong likelihood the cancer will be what takes my life, but we also know that none of us are promised tomorrow. I am so thankful for my faith and the confidence I have in knowing that when my time on earth is through, whenever and however that may be, I’ll be rejoicing in Heaven. And, I guarantee there’s balance there!
As I close out this update, I would ask that you continue to remember us in prayer. Specifically, I ask that you lift us up as we contemplate important decisions for our future. Many patients with stage IV bladder cancer file for disability. We’ve started some difficult conversations in this regard and for now are still gathering facts. The timing of when to file is weighing heavy on our minds and shoulders. Please pray that we would be wise and at peace with our decision.
I have the following verse written on a note card by my Bible. Every morning I look at it and remind myself…
Be joyful in hope. Patient in affliction. Patient in prayer. – Romans 12:12