Wednesday, August 13, 2014

what's been happening

Hi all! You may remember I told you that Steve was sick during our bi-annual holiday. He continued to get worse after we got home. We found out two weeks ago that he has a rare cancer of the duodenum (upper small bowel).

Three weeks ago, he was admitted to hospital, and since then life has been a surreal procession of tests, waiting for results, and processing the kind of news no one wants to hear. Each piece of news was worse than the last – mass? lymphoma? adenocarcinoma? – until the day we got the good news that the scan showed no visible secondaries.

We grieved together, prayed together, wrote our wills, and told our children.

There have been many hard days: the days when we anxiously waited for results, the days we grieved the bad news, the days we began to think about what that will mean, the days I sat and watched Steve in pain and vomiting endlessly, and now, the slow days of recovery after surgery.

But the hardest day, for me, was the day of Steve’s operation.

The surgeons had no idea what they could do until they opened him up. They thought they would need to do a “whipple” – major surgery involving removal of part of the pancreas and stomach and complicated re-plumbing of the bowel. They feared they would have to do a bypass, leaving the tumour intact and rejoining the bowel around it.

I have never prayed so long and so hard in my life (I am ashamed to say that, but it’s true). I lay in bed – I had no energy to do anything else – and stared out at the rain, and prayed and prayed and prayed.

The surgeon rang at 1.24 pm with the news: they were able to do a duodectomy (removal of part of the duodenum) instead of the larger whipple. They removed the tumour successfully. There were no visible secondaries. I gave my children (all sick at home) a thumbs-up, and we gave thanks to God.

Now Steve is recovering from major surgery, which means nausea and weakness and mental disorientation and pain. I’ve spent most of the last three weeks by his bedside. My mother is looking after our kids, who are coping well – except for Andy, our eight-year-old, who misses his mum.

Already there has been loneliness (it is hard when the person you usually depend for comfort is so sick, at the very time when you need comfort most) and grief and fear. There have been times when I haven’t even wanted to talk to God, and other times when it has been hard to believe he loves us. I am living in the Psalms, and clinging to him as well as I can. Truly I can say that God is my refuge. “I sing in the shelter of his wings” (Psalm 63:7).

We await pathology and oncology and all the ongoing uncertainty that goes with a cancer diagnosis. Soon, we will begin to hear more about statistics and prognoses. I am praying for another 25 years with Steve. I am praying we will trust God whatever he wills for us. It is God who numbers our days, not statistics and prognoses. We are in his loving hands.

I feel afloat on an ocean of prayer. We are surrounded by people who support and help us. I have set up a Facebook page where I post daily prayer points. If you would like to pray with and for us, you can "like" this page: Pray for Steve.

Friday, August 1, 2014

memory of fallen times

To know that
evil is mortal,
that it dies with this earth,
and will fade like a smudge
into brief
memory of fallen times
– if remembered at all,

one must
first feel fast-bound
in strangler-roots,

which takes time,
and strength of all kinds,
harm, and the death of hopes.

Then one must see evil everywhere,
and understand its power,
and fetch,
and stench;
how it sits like a toad
in a stone
inside the soul,
inside the bone.

fall down
of terror, and fear,
and sadness,
bored out for all
who look unblinking into such things.

And run weeping to Jesus,
then flee,
then back, then flee
and back again,
until knowing
no other place to flee.

Only then,
as buds urge through hardwood,
or like brief snatches
of new breeze in spring,
know evil is mortal
and ends with this earth
in future phenomena
of dying and birth,
and will fade like smudge
into brief memory
of fallen times,
if it is remembered
at all.

- David Hastie.