I can't tell you how much I appreciate the text, calls, and quick "how is your mom?" when I see you face to face. I have been blown away through this journey by people simply just being kind, concerned, and encouraging.
We are just short of FIVE months since we received the devastating news at M.D. Anderson. The news was grim, discouraging, and anything but hopeful.
At mom's first appointment, we met with a surgical oncologist. Because she had a mass and that mass needed to be removed. That's what we would do, go in and remove it. Simple enough, right? During that appointment, it was very clear it was not that simple. Or that straight forward. Or just a mass.
Questions swirled around in my mom, sister's, and my head as we listened to what the doctor had to say. There really is no way you can wrap your head around what they are trying to explain to you. For one, you don't want to hear what they are saying and two you feel like your in dream (and not a pleasant one).
Basically the surgical oncologist, said surgery wasn't an option. The word he used to describe my mom's tumor/mass was "interesting." I'm not in the medical field, but I didn't take it as a check in the plus column. In other words, he told us the tumor is WAY too big, surgery was not an option, and while surgery would be the goal we want to attain, it's not likely.
From there we meet with an oncologist, where we were told the kind of cancer mom had was incurable. It's a rare form of cancer and they haven't had much success with chemotherapy, but the best they could do was give us a 6 month time-frame, and it was a shot in the dark as far as the treatment working.
The doctor wanted to discuss prognosis with my mom, she declined and told him, "he didn't have a crystal ball and it wasn't up to him. Also, that he didn't know her God." She lifted her head up and looked at all of us kids and asked us, "are y'all ready to fight? Get your gloves up!" And the fight was on...
About eight-ten weeks into her diagnosis, mom ended up with jaundice. Her liver basically just quit working due to the tumor. Mexico doctors told her she needed to get jaundice under control and to have M.D. put in a stent. Mom's bilirubin levels were out the roof! To the point, where her body should have been in toxic shock. But she wasn't, it wasn't, she wasn't running a fever. Yes, she was sick and yellow up to her eyeballs literally, but it could have been much worse.
She had her first stent procedure late October, which turned out to be successful. They had the head surgeon on the case and he said it could take up to four hours. He spent all the evening before studying my mom's anatomy to make sure he could get the job done. He said it would be tough, but he wouldn't give up. Didn't even take 45 minutes. He said it looked much better once he got inside, than on the scan. During the procedure, I spent time down at the hospital chapel with my Starbucks latte, pleading for peace and for my mom to come through this - not knowing all that had been said about how bad it might or could be. Dr. Lee couldn't have been more pleased with the way the procedure went and couldn't get over how amazing of a lady my mom was and the kids she had raised (all 4 kids were there). He said it's a testament of the kind of person she is.
After the stent, her jaundice cleared out rather quickly. But, we found out at that time that the tumor had grown. A lot! Like an inch, give or take. It was already the size of a large grapefruit to begin with...so now we're talking a personal size watermelon.
Our hearts sank, once again.
I'll probably never forget the night mom called to tell me. It was the first time in this entire journey, I thought this is it - prepare for the worst. Up until that point, I never wavered or doubted she'd make it through this. But this news, sent me over the edge.
How could this be? I mean, they originally told us it was probably slow growing, been there for 2 years, etc.
It was at this point, mom felt she had to pull out all the stops and decided to do chemo. She immediately got started with chemo. M.D. Anderson wouldn't plan any further out than 8 weeks. They didn't give us much info, just we'll do 4 rounds of chemo then reevaluate.
But since the very beginning of all this, she has said it doesn't matter what treatment I chose - God simply has to heal me. Whether that meant healing here on earth or taking her home to heal her. Either way, it was God's plan and while she wasn't thrilled about leaving this earthly home, she decided to leave it up to Him.
Fast forward to late December. Mom had an appointment with the oncologist on December 18th and would have her 4th round of chemo. The oncologist remarked and was so pleased with her blood work regarding the cancer marker numbers. He said the numbers were so good, that he wanted to do another scan to check progression and then if the scan reflected what the numbers were showing, then surgery might be in the future.
She had a CT scan on Monday, December 29th and went to see the Dr the next day (Dec 30th) to have him read the results.
"Remarkable" was the word he used. He said he hasn't really ever seen anyone respond to treatment this way. And kept commenting on how strong of a lady my mom is. She says, "she's not strong, that it has nothing to do with her."
So here we are...less than five months from diagnosis, no real hope for surgery, and according to M.D. we should be close to planning my mom's funeral.
Because mom is rocking chemo, she feels better everyday. She looks amazing! She's had minimal side effects, compared to what they told us. And she's not only living, but thriving! She's excited about life and this journey.
And tomorrow around lunchtime, she is meeting with the surgical oncologist. The same one she originally met with in August, who basically said, "I'm sorry Mrs. Meador, we can't help you!"
God has met us at every fork in the road, at every appointment, at every high, and every low. He has navigated this ship. He has carried us when we were too weak. He has brought redemption in places we thought might ever be possible. But with Him, all things are possible. (Thanks to my sweet friend Brooke, who got me that bracelet at the beginning of this- has been such a great reminder!)
We cried out to Him and He calmed the storm within. His grace abounds in deepest waters.
While the chemo maybe helped shrink the tumor, there is only one way mom could and will survive this. Either way, we'll give Him praise for this battle and for the miracles within it. God's ways are higher than ours, than any doctor, or treatment.
He is steadfast, true, and thankfully still in the business of healing people, miraculously.
He is remarkable.
And we are so thankful for each of you for praying on behalf of my mom. Without those prayers, this would have been impossible.
He replied, "Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."