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.


Anonymous said...

Oh Jean, please know that I too am praying for you and your family. We never know how we will face the crisis which hits all of us through our lives; the only surety we have is God. He alone is our rock and our strength. And whatever time you spend with your husband will be more precious now, whether it is another 50 years or 2 years. God Bless you all.

Unknown said...

What a hard road for you all. We've never met but I read your blog regularly and feel like I know you. This is where all your reading on suffering comes to the fore….God will not let you down. Press on… Suellen

Jan said...

Jean, I have prayed for you and all your family and will add you and yours to my list. You used the word surreal. A good choice. I have a bit of an idea how you feel, although obviously each case is different. It is 18 years since my sitter was diagnosed with a rare aggressive form of breast cancer. Others in the family have had other types of cancer. On New Years Day, Miss M, my little granddaughter was diagnosed with leukaemia and has attended school just twice since.

We felt we had been run over by a bus with this diagnosis as she had been perfectly healthy till two weeks before diagnosis.

We have had to hold on to the knowledge that God is good. Whatever happens, he is still God and in control. Take care of yourself through this cold winter, get rest and know that there will be many praying for you all.

Anne said...

Dear Jean.Praying with you those requests.I love your honesty in your suffering. May God surround you all with His love and comfort. May you know and feel the cover over you of His mighty yet tender wing ,as the storm passes by you. He's got you.Ps 57:1

Anonymous said...

Dear Jean and Steve, my heart weeps for you at this time. The uncertainties are so big. We thank God for the fact there are no secondaries and that they didn't have to do a whipples. As you share your loneliness without Steve, you have challenged me to consider further how Fiona must have been feeling. And still we thank God that he has given us a Comforter, and his word contains such wonderful messages of comfort. You are in our prayers. Maybe as Steve recovers, he and I could look to connect from time to time to encourage each other.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Jan said...

Jean, forgive me if this seems an intrusion. It is certainly not intended that way. When I bought here just over three years ago I used some time at the solicitor's. I had a new will drawn up, mine was over forty years old.

I also had an enduring power of attorney drawn up. My dad developed dementia and we were very glad this was done before any signs of the dementia. A medical power of attorney was also done to cover any necessary treatment. I told them details of solicitor who has all legal original documents in safe keeping and where my copies were.

I wrote my three adult sons identical letters with bank account details, people I wanted told and all that sort of thing.

I had not realised any of this had been on my mind. When it was finished I could feel a weight lifted from my shoulders which I had not known was there.

Jean said...

Thanks, friends. Your tears, prayers, encouragement, and the Bible verses you share mean more to me than I can say.

Jan, that's not an intrusion, we wrote our wills a week and a half ago and they are with the solicitors. Still a few more arrangements to be made but it's a weight off our minds, as you say, to have that done.

Jean said...

Oh, and Dave, I am sure Steve would love that. It is good to talk with people who have been there.

Sarah said...

Oh Jean, my heart goes out to you after reading of your family's suffering. Praying that God in His mercy might give you many more years with Steve and that He will continue to use Steve to minister to many people, and uphold and keep your family in His tender care.

Unknown said...

I really hope that you get a bit of silver lining, amidst everything. Times had been evidently tough, and Steve had those rather unfair limits imposed, but the best you can do at this point is to minimize his pain and make him live all his years on this earth well. Along with of course, prayers. Thanks for sharing that! All the best!

Aubrey Holloway @ Primary Care Associates