17 months ago we left our old lives in Auburn NY and began a journey into a life of travel and volunteering. Yesterday we awoke on the first day of a new journey we neither planned nor wanted. Yesterday we met with Charley’s doctor to get the plan for dealing with her metastatic melanoma. Boy talk about waking in fear and trepidation.
4 A.M. awake and staring at the ceiling, stomach tied in knots and no way I am going back to sleep. Lying here with the last 3 weeks running over and over in my head. A phone call telling that a recent biopsy of Charley’s enlarged iliac lymph node is positive for metastatic melanoma. Maybe if I use this word enough it will be less scary. The list of things to do is endless: drive from North Carolina to Pittsburgh, find doctors, find an apartment, see a doctor, drive to State College for a game, buy furniture, see a doctor, get medical tests, wait for results, turn on the lights and cable, wait and worry. It has been a long three weeks of prayer mixed with tears but today we get the results of the tests and hear the verdict.
9 A.M. and we are both up and nervously looking at the test results that popped up in her online chart. Looking up medical terms and trying to come to grips with things is just making things worse. A little bit of knowledge is truly a dangerous thing and can take you to scary places. We decide it is time to stop taking counsel of our fears and listen to God.
“Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with My righteous hand.” Isaiah 4:1
The Lord promised us that he would be with us and we must have faith in that. This is an easy statement to make but harder to live by when things go wrong. It is easy to focus on our fears, not what God has accomplished in our lives to date. It is easy to focus on the negative in life and not the daily joys.
12 days ago, a random phone call to Allegheny Health’s find a doctor number reached a nice, helpful young man. He scheduled appointments for Charley with an oncologist, Dr. Younnes and a dermatologist, Dr. Gaulding. Several hours later Charley gets a phone call from the cancer coordinator recommending Dr. Younnes who specializes in melanoma. The coordinator doesn’t know Dr. Gaulding but it turns out she also focuses on melanoma. Now some would call this luck but we see the hand of the Lord.
“Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.” Proverbs 3:6
2 P.M. We are sitting in Starbucks reviewing the list of questions for Dr. Younnes.What stage is the cancer? What are the treatments and side effects? How long will this last? What is the prognosis? Wait is that a question we really want to ask?
Charley is not a statistic and the numbers for the world of people with metastatic melanoma point a way and offer both promise and dread. We will deal with this as a chronic problem that can be dealt with one day at a time.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5-6
3:45 Well the dreaded doctor’s visit is over. We have a treatment plan and a timeline of treatments that can go on for years. Charley tells Colleen that, if the treatments work, as we hope and pray they will, it will be similar to treating a chronic disease like diabetes.
So, our journey begins anew. The road now moves onto highways with no maps but not without guidance or hope. We trust the fact that the Lord will continue to guide our steps down this new road. He promises us that we are not alone. We may not know the specific plan God has for us or the route to our destination. He will get us there if we just have faith and pray.
As we move off the physical road and move onto a spiritual one our new motto is found in Thessalonians:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances. . . “ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18