“The world seemed to her a grand march of resurrections–out of every sorrow springing the joy at its heart, without which it could not have been a sorrow; out of the troubles, and evils, and sufferings, and cruelties that clouded its history, ever arising the human race, the sons of God, redeemed in Him who had been made subject to death that He might conquer Death for them and for his Father–a succession of mighty facts, whose meanings only God can evolve, only the obedient heart behold.”
(George MacDonald, Paul Faber: Surgeon)
It’s been a while since we’ve given everyone an update on how Candace is doing. The last update was June 23, at the conclusion of her chemotherapy. To review the timeline, Candace had a biopsy for breast cancer last January that came back positive, but for stage 1 with a good prognosis. We were so thankful to catch it early! After surgery to remove the surrounding tissue and three lymph nodes, she began a course of chemotherapy that concluded in late May, followed by radiation therapy that concluded in late July.
Through all these courses of treatment we were blessed with intelligent, competent, up-to-date health-care professionals who were also truly humane and compassionate in their care. The physicians, nurses and staff at the Breast Care Center of Norman Regional Hospital, Mercy Oncology of Norman, and Artesian Cancer Center, were spectacular in every fashion. What a blessing to witness firsthand the compassion and expertise of the cancer care community in Norman.
We are glad to report that Candace tolerated both chemotherapy and radiation well, experiencing none of the serious complications and side-effects that frequently occur. Of course, grappling with the inevitable minor side-effects led to an altered lifestyle with many sleepless nights. But the peripheral neuropathy that resulted from chemo resolved itself by the end of the summer.
Like many people who have experienced cancer, Candace states that it was all worthwhile. Cancer fosters deepened relationships and a heightened appreciation of the grace and loving presence of God. This does not mean that the fight against cancer is easy; but rather, with the support of family and community, that the fight may be as rewarding as it is difficult.
The biggest surprise for us was how the months after radiation would prove to be just as difficult, at least in terms of pain and the disruption of daily life. Everyone knows that chemo and radiation will be difficult; I suspect that fewer cancer patients know ahead of time to expect the months post-therapy to be as difficult. I suspect this experience must not be uncommon, and cancer patients probably frequently have to adjust their expectations. For whatever reason, the tendons and ligaments in Candace’s legs and feet lost their elasticity, and this led to a double-case of plantar fasciitis when she began to exercise again after radiation. The pain in her legs and feet sometimes kept her awake at night, but was manageable with hours of daily exercise and the skillful physical therapy of Dick Stewart and his associates at Therapy in Motion. Due to her estrogen-blocking medication to prevent cancer recurrence, hot flashes have been violent at times, including the middle of the night. A night’s sleep is still hard-won, not to be taken for granted. So life has yet to return to normal, in the sense of returning to her a sense of control over her daily schedule. But once we accepted the fact that recovery would be incremental and gradual, the lingering issues proved manageable and we have seen substantial progress made, particularly in the last few weeks. We’re hopeful that the next few months will see a more or less return to daily routine. In the scheme of things, these lingering issues are small difficulties compared with what might have been — they are all steadily progressing toward an eventual positive resolution, and we feel blessed.
A few weeks ago, Candace shared about her experience at a Thanksgiving service in church. Here is a portion of what she said:
I’d like to read this passage to you out of The Message in my own personalized version.
“All praise to the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all compassion! God of all healing counsel and comfort! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you’re just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you’re going to make it, no doubt about it. We don’t want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us. It was so bad we didn’t think we were going to make it. We felt like we’d been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally—not a bad idea since he’s the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he’ll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing. You and your prayers are part of the rescue operation—I don’t want you in the dark about that either. I can see your faces even now, lifted in praise for God’s deliverance of us, a rescue in which your prayers played such a crucial part. (2 Corinthians 1:3-11)
In the email we sent out last January, we wrote, “Kerry and I are praying this scripture which assures us that this is a sharing in the sufferings of Christ for the comfort of others. God is my hope and I know that He will deliver me as you help me by your prayers. I’m so thankful to have brothers and sisters like you to help me carry this burden through your prayers.”
I’m here today to tell you that God heard your prayers. What Satan planned for evil, God planned for good. He provided wise doctors, effective treatments, and loving family and friends to support and encourage me. He HAS rescued me and He is using this experience to bring hope and comfort into the lives of others. And my hope wasn’t merely in being healed from the cancer. The hope that I share with you is that no matter what happens to our bodies, we have constantly with us a God who loves us deeply and surrounds us with His loving presence and a peace that passes all understanding. He will always have a place for us either here or in heaven. And my message for you is that he loves YOU deeply and wants to give you that same peace and hope that whatever valley you walk through, He is right beside you ready to lift you up and give you the same peace that He gave me through many sleepless nights and difficult days. To have that confidence for myself and for you made it all worth it….
I, too, want to say a heart-felt thank you to those of you who have supported Candace through this ordeal emotionally, physically, and spiritually by your kind words, thoughtful acts and compassionate prayers. We love you, and your love for us makes it all worthwhile.
No post on this blog is untouched by the experience of fighting cancer together this year. But here are a few posts that are particularly relevant:
- Candace update, June 23
- Wedding Sonnet
- The Horse and Her Gal
- Life Metaphors: Journey
- Life Metaphors: Music, 1
- Look at us, after 25 years!
- The Joy of Christmas
- Christmas nights around town and all the other holiday posts.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…. as you help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, 11)