One year ago today, my morning started with joyful expectation as I made my way to the hospital to witness the birth of my grandson Titus. That evening, as I was still basking in the miracle of birth, my joy quickly turned to devastation as I received a phone call that suddenly snatched the rug right out from under me. My precious sister had cancer. A diagnosis that was unexpected and unwelcome.
It has been a long year. My sister has undergone many, many months of chemo and blood work and painful procedures. She has gone through the time consuming and tedious process of stem cell collection. In April of this year she underwent a stem cell transplant that required a lengthy hospital stay, a high dose of a strong chemo drug, Melaphan, followed by the infusion of her own stem cells back into her body, and the subsequent and not so pleasant side effects that go hand-in-hand with this process. She lost all of her hair and most of her strength.
After the transplant, the waiting period begins. A 90-day waiting period. It takes that long for your system to rebuild itself and for your bone marrow to begin producing blood cells again in sufficient amounts. The 90-day mark is when they do the retesting and re-staging of your blood to see if the transplant accomplished its intended goal. Complete remission.
So, today was the day. Exactly one year after diagnosis, we found ourselves sitting in the BMT clinic waiting for the news.
This whole year, the Lord has been so good and so faithful to us all. He has carried us when we felt we couldn't walk anymore. He has sheltered us when we needed a refuge. He has been gracious and loving and kind throughout our journey through the unknown. Our Lord has given us scriptures to stand on, verses to cling to and the promises of His Holy Word to hide in our hearts.
My sweet God has given me peace along the way and He has given me the strength I needed to keep my eyes focused on Him. I haven't wavered in my faith and have held tight to the scripture He gave me at the very beginning of this hard journey.
But He knows the way that I take;
when He has tried me, I shall
come forth as gold"
I knew deep down in my heart that no matter what, God was doing a work in my sister and in me and in my entire family. I knew that no matter what, He would be there for us and with us. I knew that whatever this journey entailed, my sister was going to come forth as gold.
Although today didn't bring the words that we all longed to hear, we are okay. The transplant didn't achieve complete remission, but she did have a 62% reduction in the disease. In multiple myeloma they call that a partial response. Anything over 50% is considered this type of response. She had never achieved this with the other chemotherapy drugs they tried, so I took this as a victory of sorts. We didn't get what we wanted, but we got what God allowed. He has a plan and I know that whatever that plan is, He will be right beside us on the journey.
So now, she goes back to her oncologist and she once again begins a regimen of chemotherapy. We start this whole process over again. Our goal is to keep the myeloma cells from progressing. A goal that is possible because the God that I serve is mighty and powerful and can do all things.
I have complete peace tonight. I have a very broken heart, but I also have peace. I wanted my sister to hear 'complete remission' so bad. But that isn't the case so we take what we've been dealt and we go forward. We continue to trust in our awesome God. We continue to bask in His goodness and His mercy. We keep believing for the miracle that is in the making. And we keep our eyes focused on Him and His precious Word.
He is good. And the beautiful thing about my Jesus is that He loves us with an everlasting and all encompassing love. And in times like this, that is enough.