Three times we’ve received bad news. Each time there is a treatment that might get rid of the cancer, but each time the chance of it working is less. We are at that point again.
I wrote about some of the strange symptoms Peter was experiencing over the last few days: ringing in his ears, pain in his shoulder, pain in his feet. Yesterday I noticed the area around his eyes getting puffy. Today his whole face and his arms got swollen. He complained that something in his throat felt weird. The doctors decided to hold off on chemo to see what was going on. First they order an X-ray, then followed up with a CT scan. It’s not an infection. It’s cancer. The tumor has grown. Again. Already.
His airway at one point is constricted to 3mm. Some veins draining the blood from his head and arms are being squeezed, which is causing the swelling. They rushed him to start radiation this evening, the staff staying late to do it.
For the first time, Peter was feeling scared and worried today. For good reason. The only shot left is for three uncertain parts to all work perfectly in succession: radiation, chemotherapy targeting the specific mutation driving the growth of the tumor, and bone marrow transplant. The likelihood of getting rid of the disease, in the words of the oncologist, is “exceedingly small.”
Even if we can hit this triple bullseye, Peter can expect to face a lifetime of difficulty. Each piece has its difficulties and its complications, both short and long term. Radiation will most likely cause tremendous pain in his throat. It might be impossible for him to eat for a few weeks. His heart and lungs will also be damaged, as they will also be irradiated. Chemo causes long term side effects of varying types. And a bone marrow transplant will lead to many complications too.
So here we are grieving again for the third time. Each time the chance of healing is smaller. While talking with the oncologist today, I thought, “How much of this can I handle?” The oncologist said, by the way, that he is “kind of angry” because this tumor has not responded at all the way he expected it too. Personally, I just feel sad.
I am a little unsure how much of our struggle and sorrow to share in this kind of forum, but if you are reading it’s likely because you share in our sorrow in some way. We would like you to also share in our hope. We do of course have some hope that the treatments will be effective. That is possible. And we have hope that God might respond to the prayers of so many and heal Peter miraculously. But more than this we have the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. Peter, despite some understandable fear, shares that confidence. While asking for healing, we are preparing Peter for heaven.