As we’ve followed my sister Mary on her journey through cancer, we promised a report after her doctor’s appointment on July 19. Happily, the bottom line is still, “No news is good news.”
Not much has changed for Mary in the three months since she last saw her oncologist, though the pesky symptoms of her cancer never leave her alone. At the appointment she asked questions about her occasional fevers, the increasing fatigue, abdominal discomfort, and intestinal upsets and was told what she already knew – that these are merely symptoms of her cancer. She says she has no actual pain anywhere, and doesn’t take any pills other than her pancreatic enzymes.
A while ago, Mary asked for prayer about signing off with her doctor and was told this week that it was up to her. For all practical purposes, then, she has done that – and is grateful for your prayer-help in making the decision.
Her doctor suggested she contact a palliative care organization in order to have a number to call in an emergency. Mary learned that palliative care isn’t just pain management or comfort measures as she thought but includes nutritional guidance, symptom control, and crisis response.
As for her weight, from January to April of this year, she lost six pounds, but from April to July, she’s only lost another half-pound, so she’s grateful for your prayers about that.
Cancer isn’t just about physical troubles, though. On the emotional side, it hangs overhead like a storm cloud that never blows through. Others with cancer have told Mary they feel like the general public is staring at them, knowing they have this dreaded disease. Of course strangers don’t really know. It just seems that way.
But Mary quoted a verse today that mentions “guarding our hearts and minds.” Although we should all be careful about what we think, this verse explains that God is the One who will do the guarding for us by way of supplying a supernatural peace big enough to stand guard over our thoughts…. as long as we don’t let ourselves obsess over our fears. (Philippians 4:6-7) Cancer may be a dark reality that God chooses not to remove, but he will never leave Mary without a way to mentally live above it.
She is ever-thankful for praying friends and mentioned an example. A church acquaintance who had met Mary’s seven-year-old granddaughter Ruby said, “I have a granddaughter that same age, so from now on, when I pray for her, I’ll also pray for you.” Since then she’s asked for the names and ages of Mary’s other grands and is now praying for them as well – all 11 of them.
God answers prayer – often in unexpected, wonderful ways. And so Mary asks that we continue praying for weight gain and also for increased energy to help her fully participate when her children and grandchildren visit in these next few weeks. Also, she is scheduled for cataract surgery (one eye) on July 25 and would appreciate prayer to cover that day.
Most of all she is praising God for your faithful prayers, asking him to bless you in return.
“I am ready for anything through the strength of the One who lives within me.” (Philippians 4:13, Phillips)