Tears

I have certainly been sad along this road but hadn’t yet had a big tearfest at the doctor. Or really a ton of tears in general. Until today. Something hit big and deep and hard. As many of you know through your own pain and suffering, sometimes there’s an “unexpected” factor that becomes a multiplier of our sadness. Along those lines, I hated losing my dad at 20 (with big losses of quality of life for several years before) but his death wasn’t a surprise. And, while it was very sad, it would have been an even more painful traumatic sad if I hadn’t seen it coming. And though today’s debrief of our pathology report was on a much smaller scale, I think the same principle applied – the sadness was amplified by the unexpected. I didn’t really see it coming. Maybe I should have. Or, maybe it was more of the Lord’s grace because I hadn’t really worried about pathology results post-surgery and have always assumed, even as I concluded in my last post, that I knew the treatment plan and we were on course. I viewed chemo as the worst element of my treatment and was thankful it was first and over. I thought surgery would be the next hit with a “one two punch” strategy as, Dr. Osborne, my oncologist describes it. [She’s a fiery tiny redhead so it’s funny to me when she uses her boxing analogy – and usually with air swings to complement the language.] So, as you know, next was surgery and we thought we were on the downhill. I think Dr. Osborne did as well. Or, maybe that was just her hope for me and she cheered toward that end until she knew otherwise? As she did today. As I’ve said before, it’s like things are finally catching up to us. If I’d thought about it for half a second, surely it would have occurred to me that they don’t really really really know what cancer we’re faced with until they do surgery, get it out, and study it.

[Sidenote: As I attempt to explain what we learned today I realize it’s still a little foggy and foreign to me and I may botch it a bit, especially in medical terms. But, then again, maybe, unless you’re a doctor, you won’t know. Hopefully you can just roll with it knowing that I’m learning with you. Ok, maybe slightly ahead of you as the patient but barely.]

Anyways, kind of like things started with “unfortunately …” from the surgeon’s office this week, the first word I remember from Dr. Osborne today was “disappointed.” And, shortly thereafter, I remember “discouraged.” We had hoped that the chemo would have really put the hurt on the tumor and it was even possible that they’d cut me open and find almost nothing – or just scar tissue. But, no, not so much. They cut me open and found a decent sized tumor remaining (about 2cm, I think). And, a lot of “lymphovascular invasion.” In layman’s terms, the doctor said, “this cancer has shown it knows how to travel.” Of the several biological markers they look for in assessing treatment (same ones they looked for with biopsy sample 6 months ago), they were disappointed that only 1 of those had been substantially altered by chemo. The good news is that they did slow the proliferation rate and that they stopped the tumor from growing. But, unfortunately, the tumor still showed a strong hormone positive receptivity (estrogen and progesterone). And, since I’m a female who clearly has female hormones, that’s a problem. The tumor feeds on these hormones and even though they’ve shut down my female organs with chemotherapy, that apparently wasn’t enough. Speaking of risk, she repeatedly referred to me as “high risk” and I finally asked what that means – a high risk for cancer to return. And, since the average age of onset of breast cancer is 61, she admitted that there’s still not as much data as they’d like about cancer patients that present in their 20s or 30s.

At about this point in the conversation, I don’t think I was crying yet. Just trying to process. I think my mom had already started crying (while taking furious notes) but I was still in the game. I think. However, as she continued and I realized that she was starting to “double down” on our treatment plan, the gravity of her concern hit me. We thought we were on the backside and about to taper but we were wrong – the fight is on. I’m not referring to a fight for my life but just an aggressive effort to keep cancer cells from multiplying or returning. So, instead of a rather simple plan of just radiation followed by hormone therapy, she is proposing oral chemo (thankfully, it doesn’t cause hair loss or immuno-suppression so that’s good news!) in parallel with the radiation, shots to ensure my female systems stay powered down, she encouraged us to consider surgery to remove my ovaries, and then she changed the proposed anti-hormone therapy drug and timeline to start sooner and extend well beyond the original 5 years we thought. By now, I was crying. More chemo? Taking out my ovaries? Another drug for a much longer period of time? And, while she acknowledged it was ultimately our decision, it was clear that she strongly discouraged us from trying to have other children – citing that while Lincoln certainly didn’t cause the tumor that pregnancy and nursing were likely major factors in its aggressive growth and we can’t risk feeding the cancer. By now I was really crying. And, sweetly, Dr. Osborne and her nurse, Christina, sat on either side of the examining table and rubbed my back. Scott sat quietly and listened intently. My mom was still crying and taking notes:) I definitely think part of my tears were just that what seemed to be predictable (the plan) and what we thought was partly our decision (future children) were both slipping away quickly. And, if I like anything, for better or worse, it’s a plan and a little control. Ahh, yes, I too recall my previous entries and I know that it’s just the allusion of controlbut, nonetheless, what little I had was running out the door and was already down the elevator and on to Gaston before I could process what she’d said. And, I think it bears repeating that I love adoption and I love the idea of God surprising us with His plans for our family whether that be “one and done” or more. And, we were never deadset on must-have-another-child but, somehow someway, it was another shocker and just a lot to process. And, then, another wave of tears. This time crying as I reiterated what I’ve said here a dozen times but probably never said to Christina or Dr. Osborne. I can’t believe that, at 38 and 47, after only 4 months of marriage and on birth control, we got pregnant. God knew. He totally knew. He knew that I’d be asked to consider having my ovaries taken out shortly thereafter and He knew, even though we weren’t sure we wanted kids at the time, that we would be so glad we’d had Lincoln and, in His mercy and grace and kindness and love, He surprised us and gave us a little man to love! Really, God? Are you this good to us? Yes, He is. He totally is. And that same good God still has us. And He still knows what’s best for us. And, while we are surprised with today’s news and will be surprised with whatever He unfolds for our family, thankfully, He isn’t.

I’ll meet with Dr. Lamont (surgeon) next Monday. I still have my drains and got a lengthy explanation from the oncologist on why I wouldn’t want them out too early under any circumstances … because, as bad as they are, fluid collecting on the inside of my body is much worse. And, thankfully, I had a fashion break-through last night and decided that instead of pinning them to my bra, I could just wear a sports bra and stuff the drain in between my boobs – it’s not the best look, I don’t disagree, but the uniboob is better than the terrorist. And, depending on what I’m wearing, there may or may not be wire protruding out the top but this is infinitely better than the drain dangling from a safety pin under my clothes. So, drum roll please, not only did I drive myself to the doctor’s appointment today but I actually got out of the house a second time in the afternoon with Gigi for some “manicure therapy” to rest, indulge myself in their pampering, and cover up my hideous-looking nails (chemo, you have been unkind to my hands, my feet, and my head!). So, 2 outings in one day – I am living on the edge. An ounce of freedom is worth a pound of insanity cure. I now have hopes that the drains can come out on Monday at the surgeon’s office. We really like Dr. Lamont and our radiologist, Dr. Cheek, so Scott is looking forward to visiting with them in upcoming appointments to continue to process the pathology report. I’ll go back to Dr. Osborne in 3 weeks for my first shot to ensure my ovaries stay “off” and discuss how to execute some of the proposed ideas from today.

Today, once again, I found myself really grateful for excellent medical care in our community. Though our surgeon is out of town, Dr. Osborne had been texting with him about my results and, while on vacation, he had reviewed my pathology report. Dr. Cheek, the radiologist whom I’ve only met once, was also already engaged in helping think through the best strategy going forward. Dr. Osborne spent a ton of time with us and her passion is fighting cancer. I’m thankful for it. I also told her today how thankful I was for her as cheerleader when I needed a cheerleader (always very encouraging about me staying active and my bloodwork results and enduring chemo well) and then a straightforward truth-teller when I needed a truth-teller (no sugar coating today) and then a big dose of compassion as a back rubber too.

The silver lining on all the intensified treatment is that, though it’s a lot, most of it doesn’t as negatively impact our quality of life like chemotherapy, surgery or drains. Have I mentioned I’m really wanting the drains out?! Most of this is pills and more intensification of what was already planned. And, if we agreed to the ovaries surgery, that’s another day surgery. And, as much as it’s a shock to process the range of choices between semi-permanent or permanently turning off my ovaries, I really-100%-without-a-shadow-of-a-doubt trust that the Lord will bring grant us His peace (Phil 4:6-7) with that decision and also to complete peace about how He has planned our family before the beginning of time. It’s just a lot to process today. But, we know we are in the hands of a mighty God who never sleeps nor slumbers and ordains life and numbers our days so any and all of this is absolutely within his sovereignty and goodness. Neither Scott nor I are wavering on those truths. In fact, that reminds me of probably the very sweetest part of our morning. Dr. Osborne and Christina left and the room remained silent as the 3 of us sat and soaked in what we’d just heard. The first words spoken were Scott’s “well, can I pray for us?” and from across the room he prayed the sweetest prayer. His first matter of business was just praise to the God who has shown us His soveriegnty, love, care, power, and grace in so many ways. And especially for the gift of Lincoln. And then He just laid our hearts out before the Lord. It was the perfect way to conclude our appointment and to turn our minds and hearts toward the One in whom we rest. Psalm 91:1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Lastly. For the ladies. Go do a self-exam. Today. And once a month from now on. Pretty please.

In the Shadow of the Almighty,

Jen and Scott

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28 thoughts on “Tears

  1. Tears cleanse the heart so we can feel more of God’s love and peace. Sounds like you needed those tears to just flow. We are all praying for you (Mark, Ryan, and me). And drains or not drains… hair or no hair… YOU are a Beautiful, and Stunning, and Amazing example of faith.

    Much Love ~

  2. No words – just prayers dear sister in CHRIST. My friends and family are praying for you and your family too. Love and prayers are only keystrokes away. GOD, please hold Jen and her family in YOUR warm hands of Love and Grace. We beg YOUR Power and Mercy on them and Jen’s Body. YOU are our CREATOR and DELIVERER, our PRINCE of PEACE. YOUR hand endures forever.

  3. Your title was appropriate. I shed some of my own as Adam and I just read this together. Wanted you to know you are loved and now I’m signing off so we can pray for the Clouses!

  4. I’m shedding tears myself this morning as I read your thoughts and I’m praying that our Jehovah-Shalom will bring you & your family the peace that only He can give. I’m so thankful that we serve this mighty God who numbered our days before they were even one! How do people live this life without Jesus? So thankful we don’t have to go through this life without Him!

  5. Good morning sweet Jennifer, with a heavy heart this morning as I read the update , I’m still amazed at your continued faith that God has all this in his hands. His truths are written all over you and what you cling too. Thank you God for Jennifer , for her steadfast faith that you are on the throne and in control, for her sweet husband you have given her, for precious Lincoln , who was such a surprise and joy, for her sweet mother who is there for Jennifer and family , for all the ways Jennifer’s friends love and care for her, and most if all that you are her heavenly father and love her more than we could ever understand. Continue to keep Jennifer strong both physically and mentally , always reminding her of the truths she believes and has witnessed to so many people. Much love , Ann

  6. Jennifer-
    Doug and I went to sleep last night, having cried and yet comforted by your affirmations of God’s love for you. There is no better place than to dwell in the shelter of the Most High. He knows and loves you, Scott and Lincoln. I, too, am thankful for God’s provision of a loving, caring husband for you – to uphold you and love you and for sweet Lincoln to have blessed you and Scott. Praying that you will continue to abide in the shadow of the Almighty and seek refuge under HIs wings. Love you!!!

  7. After reading this my eyes are full of tears with joy and sadness. First off, joy that you know the Lord and are leaning on his everlasting widom and love, and sad that this life is so importatnt to us and filled with people that we love and to think of not being healthy for them is hard for us. Please know I will be praying for your family as I have been there losing my spouse of 40 years to pancreatic cancer. There are no words that are adequate to say, but you are depending on the Lord and His promises with family surrounding you and it doesn’t get better than that.

  8. Jennifer, I have only known about your journey through this for about a week, after an evening with Judy Wimberley. Already, though, your honesty and trust commingled have ministered greatly to me. They say it is when we are “bumped” in life, who we really are spills out. The Lord is honored by your spills. I will be praying for all of you through this. Thank you for continuing to teach us through Your journey.

  9. Crying and praying with you. I agree with Lisa S….thank you for teaching us. His beauty shines through you Jennifer. love you!!

  10. Jennifer, remember the prayers and love of your S. Dallas girls , see their faces loving you!!!!!! Close your eyes, see Sara Mae, Lisa, Pokey, Joyce, Janie, Emma, Beatice,Mary, Lawana,Meme, Bonita, Pamela…see them all and know they are in heavenly petition for their friend who is in trial! What an army of prayer warriors! All of us at Beloved sharing your tears . We happened to read I Cor. 12 yesterday! We are His body with you, when one of us suffers, we all suffer. I am writing Natalie this weekend, I will fill her in………….. picture Natalie loving, praying for you also.! ( I Cor 12:23 ) YOU ARE SO LOVED!!!! Maribeth

  11. One can only marvel at the strength and trust in the Lord you both demonstrate. I would only hope that if faced with a similar experience, the first step I’d take would be to fall on my knees and praise Him… that takes more courage than I can truly comprehend.

  12. Remy and I read this and couldn’t stop our tears. Our prayers and tears are for you and we are crying out to the Lord to bring you healing, and peace. Your heart and soul is the most beautiful I have ever witnessed. We are so blessed and encouraged by you and Scott. We love you!! Praying hard!!

  13. Jen,
    1. Your steadfastness in Christ amidst the most trying times is a treasure.
    2. Your honesty and transparency are inspiring.
    3. “Uniboob”? Please, sister, how can you make me laugh out loud in the middle of the most completely unexpected context?
    4. Paul and I were just praying for you and your family… and will continue to lift you up to the good God you know so well and reflect so beautifully.
    Sarah Stehlik

  14. Jen, Thank you for your vulnerability, your courage and the display of the Lord’s strength through your life. I just wanted you to know that “I totally get it.” I get that conversations with physicians are filled with “unfortunately”s, “disappointed”s and “discouraged”s. I get that your heart sinks through the floor when you are told “no more children.” I am just now really grieving this three years to the date when I was told this exact statement. Yet, I hold to a God that is all-powerful, all-knowing… overflowing with grace, peace and love… His arms are wrapped around you, embracing you through every step of the way. I wish I could tell you the peace I felt the moment I was slipping away from this earth (the day I “coded.”) Words cannot describe the peace. All I know is that nothing I was leaving behind on this earth (even those that I would lay my life down to save – John, Noah and Hunter) could take my eyes off the beauty that they beheld in Jesus. This life… this earth is not our home. And, I pray tonight that you are able to mourn the disappointments, the lost dreams, the lack of control you have over your own life… and I pray for HIS peace over your life. I pray that He would strengthen you in JOY as you fight a good fight this side of heaven, and trusting the journey He foreknew you would take. I pray over your life that it would be lived in the abundance of Jesus… not one breath of your life will be wasted, young lady… whether it be one more day or 40 more years! Either way, my friend, I will see you in paradise… hoping that I beat you there!!

    I love you dearly! Below is a link you may or may not have seen…
    http://www.facebook.com/notes/the-austin-stone/faithful-heart/10150758693275190

    my heart, julie pleasant manning 🙂

  15. Thinking of you daily and praying for you. I think you are amazing and know the Lord has you in the palm of His hand. Hold us all, Lord. Love you, Jen.

  16. In tears… praying for you and your sweet family. Father, You are good, perfect, loving in all You do, faithful, powerful, gentle, totally able, healing, life-giving, ever present, compassionate, patient, holy, kind, and never surprised. You love the Clouses, and You draw near the contrite in heart, the brokenhearted. Your loving promises hold us up, fix our gaze, and align our hearts. Meet the Clouses where they are as they process, pray, and praise. Be with them, sweet Savior Jesus and show that You are LORD over all, even cancer. In Jesus Name. Amen.

  17. I am a little slow to read this post and heartbroken by your latest news. I am consistently amazed by your ability to encourage and sharpen me with your words regardless of the circumstances surrounding you! Just wanted you to know I am reading and praying and trusting in God’s provision for you and yours.

    Caryn Smith

  18. Your faith, courage and beauty blesses all of us… Bobby and I are praying for you and your precious family….

  19. Pingback: A little history. And a hysterectomy. | Pink. Pray. Love.

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