Friday, July 31, 2009

My Life is in You, Lord

I never actually sat down to write the story of my love relationship with my Savior before a great friend asked me if I would. I had thought about doing just that many times but my life seemed to always be stuck in high gear. The moment I finally wrote most of this seemed to be the right time to share the greatness of our God in my life. I was on my way to the hospital once more and God would be with me through it all.

I was a single mother for several years, raised two children, attended college, and worked part time at the college. I graduated with a BA in Art Education K-12 and a BA in Studio Art: Illustration and began my teaching career. I struggled with so much in my life, as we all do. I thought I was a Christian; I grew up going to church and I still attended church but something was always missing. Then I met a wonderful Christian friend who asked me to go to his church - a Berean Bible Church - and I accepted Christ as my Savior in the year 2000. Everything changed!

I remarried in 2003 and life was good.
In December of 2004 dreaded news came to us - I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung cancer. The cancer had spread to a lymph node in my neck as well as the nodes between my two lungs. My doctor was great, very "up", and we jumped right in to my chemo and radiation treatments. I put it all in God's hands, our creator and healer, and He gave me a peace that was indescribable.

The treatments were rough but never more than I could handle. Following treatment, with a tumor still on my lung, the doctor put me on a trial chemo oral pill, the last resort for lung cancer patients . This pill is actually only meant to extend a lung cancer patient's life for awhile longer. I took this pill from July of 2005 until February of 2006, at which time I became ill and was diagnosed with Acute Myloid Leukemia. I was rushed to a larger city, two and a half hours away, to a specialist in blood cancers, and immediately put through an induction chemo for leukemia. Again, God was with me through it all, as well as my daughter, who by then was married with children of her own, who came daily to spend time with me.

My leukemia went into remission with the first round of chemo. While there, the doctor had another CT Scan given to re-stage my lung cancer - it was gone! He questioned me about it and I said the last scan I had showed the tumor was still about 1/2 ". He said there was nothing there and he was skeptical. I told him with God all things are possible.

I came home and continued with the follow up chemo treatments through the summer. After the third treatment, each of which lowered my white counts to 0 or as close to it as possible, something began happening in my left lung. I was first put on antibiotics. These did not help. After x-rays and tests, I was sent to a lung specialist who said it might be pneumonia. He proceeded to put me on steroids and told me to come back in a week and we would see how things were. I kept feeling terrible. My oncologist had another CT scan done to see just what was going on and there they saw something growing in my left lung. After being treated with antibiotics, then steroids, for three weeks, they finally sent me in to have a second scan with a biopsy to see just what it was. It turned out to be a very deadly fungus called Mucormycosis. It is a very aggressive fungus. According to all that I read, this fungus has an 80% mortality rate in patients not treated within the first two weeks. Not only that, steroids are the worst thing you can possibly do with a fungus. Again, God was with me through it all and I was treated with Amphotericin B for 21 days straight each in the hospital - approximately 8 hours through an IV - then put on another trial oral medicine called Pozaconozole, which took care of the last of the fungus and allowed me to return to teaching when school started the end of August.

I was free of lung cancer, the fungus and in remission for the Leukemia for two years.

My counts started dropping over the summer of 2008. I had another bone marrow biopsy in July. It did not show anything but my counts continued to drop. In September I had another biopsy and that time it did show the Leukemia coming back. I headed back to the city and my Father, my Comforter and my Savior was with me, just as He always has been. I left it all in His hands and in His will and I felt safe and happy in His arms.

Our God is awesome, isn't He?

I completed the induction round of chemo once again and, once again, it went into remission. My doctor then began tests for a bone marrow transplant. I wasn't too sure about it all but knew he thought it would be the wisest choice. Unfortunately, my only brother was not a match and sibling matches are always the best. I had to give a great deal of thought to what direction I then wanted to take.

My youngest grandson was only 10 months old when I was in the hospital all of October 2008. A bone marrow transplant takes up to about a year of your life. I would have had to stay in the hospital for about 3 months or more, without visitors, during the transplant process; then another 3 months or so with few visitors while they wait to see if my body would accept or reject the bone marrow, and finally, stay home for 6 months or so to avoid bacteria and virus that could be deadly. This would have all begun once they found a donor that would match up as close as possible. All of this without any guarantees that I would live through it or if I did live that it would completely eliminate the possibility that the Leukemia would come back.

I finally decided against the transplant. It just did not seem to be where God wanted me. I wanted my grandson to know me, at least a little. There is also always the chance that the Leukemia may never come back after having all of the chemo again (
"with God all things are possible"). I chose to come home, complete four rounds of consolidation chemo and move on with my life.

July, 2009 - Update
I taught the last quarter of school (March 30 - May 26) after completing my last round of consolidation chemo in February. I saw my Leukemia doctor the 20th of this month and it is still in remission. I plan to return to my teaching position next month for a new year and I continue to leave it all in God's hands - to guide my life for His glory whatever direction it takes.

We do have an awesome God!

1 comment:

  1. Barb,
    What an awesome testimony of God's power! I'm so happy for you - that you are in remission. Hey, have you ever watched the movie A Beautiful Truth? It's a documentary related to health/cancer etc. that is pretty awesome - and kind of fired me up a bit, but in a good way.

    Thanks for sharing. Oh, and thanks for the advice on the blog stuff. Can I ask what kind of service you have and what browser you use? I love having the followers up top because I think so highly of my chums and want them to be showcased there, but I don't want to irritate anybody by slow loading time so I will seriously consider what you suggested. Thanks Barb. :)