Greetings friends!  I hope you had a wonderful Easter Sunday.  Ours was lovely, beginning with a glorious and spirit-filled church service followed by dinner with friends.  The only thing missing was our precious son Amari, who is currently on a three-week tour to CHINA with the preeminent American Boychoir! He and the group arrived safely in Beijing late Friday night and will be traveling throughout the country singing and visiting magnificent sights such as the Great Wall, the Forbidden Temple, and the Hidden City. It’s an amazing opportunity for our child, and we are overjoyed that Amari is experiencing the world at such a young age (he won’t turn 10 until September)!  We ask for your prayerful support of the whole group as they share their gift of music with the people of China.  We are receiving regular communication and pictures from the staff via technology, and are happy to report that the boys are doing well.

In the meantime, Marc and I are here in Connecticut, going about our daily lives.  On February 15, in a post on my blog called “Draining the Swamp,” I asked you to pray with me that I would have a cancer-free body by Resurrection Sunday. I want to tell you where I am in my journey today. Last Monday, I had a CT scan and Bone scan, done routinely every few months to monitor the effectiveness of the current treatment, and make sure the cancer has not progressed. I began a new treatment protocol in late December (two daily pills) and was looking forward to the results of the scan, as I expected it to show that the new treatment was working.

Unfortunately, that is not what the scans showed.  On the contrary, the scans showed that since my last scans in November, the cancer has progressed.  This means that the current treatment does not appear to be working.  It was not easy to hear this news, but fortunately, my mother and husband were with me while my oncologist shared it with us.  Their presence was a gift. 

Here are the specifics of the report.  The breast cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in my right pelvic region, and there is fluid accumulation around my heart (the medical term for this is pericardial effusion).   Although the pleural effusion (fluid between my right lung and chest wall) has decreased over the past few weeks, it has not completely stopped accumulating.  This is also disappointing, as that was the goal of my elective procedure, a pleurodesis on April 4.  I was at Yale-New Haven Hospital for four days and hoped to leave without the tube, but it is still attached to my side and the fluid is still being drained three times a week.  I see my pulmonologist on Friday for a follow-up visit, and we’ll discuss next steps then.

Because of the fluid around my heart, I am having an echocardiogram later this week, after which time I will meet with heart specialists for their assessment.  At this time, I feel well and am having no symptoms related to the fluid accumulation around my lung or my heart – no shortness of breath, no pain, coughing, nothing.  If I hadn’t had the scans I would not be aware of what is happening inside my body. 

Which brings me to the centerpiece of this blog, “Whose Report are you going to Believe?”  I am a person of great faith, and my entire cancer journey is rooted in faith – through the rough times and the smooth times; through the crooked places and the straight places; through the valleys and while on top of the mountain.  It’s no secret that right now I’m in a crooked place, where my eyes can’t see what lies around the bend.  It’s also no secret that my faith remains intact through it all, and that the prayers of all my friends all over the world – literally – are sustaining me even right now.

On Saturday, I received a call from an old friend of mine I knew in Buffalo 20 years ago.  We’re Facebook friends, but have not really been in close contact over the years.  He let me know that he and his wife follow my blog and that their family (including their kids) has been fasting and praying for my healing.  I spoke with them and they prayed with me over the phone.  This is just one example of the powerful prayers that are being offered for my healing, and I cannot express how overcome I am with the Holy Spirit when I have experiences like that one.  Something happens to me that affects every cell of my being, letting me know beyond a shadow of a doubt that although I am going through this difficult phase right now, it is not the end; better days await me.  As it says in Psalm 27, verse 13:  “I am confident that I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.”  So I will continue to be brave, courageous and faith-filled, acting as if I am already healed, even though the doctors’ reports don’t YET confirm this.  The only report I rely on is the one from the Ultimate Physician. 

So, where I am right now?  I am currently in the process of prayerful discernment and researching my next steps.  My oncologist recommended that I begin intravenous (IV) chemotherapy as my next course of treatment.  IV chemotherapy was part of my therapy for 6 months in 2001 after I was initially diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer. Make no mistake; it was tough.  I had many negative side effects, as most people do - I lost all my hair, was nauseous, exhausted, had blackened fingernails and toenails, and more.  At that time, I did it because that’s what I was told to, and based on the knowledge I had at the time I figured why not go through short-time pain for long-term gain.  If I’d known back then what I know now about the multi-faceted nature of healing, and the many aspects there are to the development and treatment of cancer, I may have made a different choice.  But I can’t change the past; I can only change the future.  And one thing I know about my future is that I am not interested in undergoing intravenous chemotherapy.  I have been blessed in my 7½ years of treatment for metastatic cancer to have had virtually no side effects from my treatments – including hormone pills, other strong oral medications, and radiation to several of my bones.  Since my body and immune system are already compromised, I want to build up my body, not tear it down by subjecting it to toxic drugs which cannot differentiate between healthy cells and cancerous cells and thus in the process harm my entire body.

To that end, I am investigating a full range of complementary therapies.  A few weeks ago, I watched an informative 9-part documentary series produced by an organization called The Truth About Cancer.  This progressive organization and its educational video series expanded my already broad horizons about the incredible range of ways there are to holistically approach healing cancer, leaving no stone unturned. 

You may ask, what do I need from you?  Your love.  Your prayers.  Your support.  And because I love you, I will lovingly share with you what I do NOT need.  At this time, I do not need recommendations, advice, or suggestions from you, no matter how well-meaning or helpful they might be.  At this point in my journey, God, my husband and I are drawing the circle of my healing wide, and there will be a time when you can add your sketches to it.  But not today.  Thank you for your understanding! 

Like all of us, I am a spirit, not just a body.  I have a body, as we all do, and I believe there is no room in my body for cancer.  There is no room in my body for illness, or unhealthy, abnormal cells.  There is only room for a resurrected body that is full of health, vitality, energy and life.  God knows the plans for me; plans to give me hope and a future, and not to harm me.  While this plan is being fulfilled, I will keep going through the fire with my eyes on the prize – being washed clean by the healing waters of love and life, on THIS side of creation.  Keep journeying with me my friends – I need you by my side every step of the way.  I love you all.  See you next week.