And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11
The other day, our pastor spoke on the topic of discernment during a staff learning meeting. I thought his description of discernment was very fitting to Brian and my life these days. My loose interpretation of his quote was something like this: “discernment isn’t usually between glaring differences..black vs. white, up vs. down, stop vs. go. Discernment is often when you have to have to choose between two choices that are so similar, they only vary by a single degree. Discernment is having the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to choose the right one.”
That’s how I feel these days. As if we were given two marbles…one is midnight black, and one is ebony black. How do you discern which is more black? Choosing between the few options we have left is like choosing “the lesser of two evils” and hoping you chose the right one. I put on Facebook the other day that I’d rather have to choose the lesser of two evils in the political world any day over having to choose in the cancer treatment world. It is not an easy task.
Here’s a few things that have happened lately, so you know where we’re at in the process:
• The doctors had scheduled an appointment with Brian for this Wednesday to discuss the treatments again, but we’ll have to reschedule that because Brian has a conference for work that day. (Praise the Lord that he can work) We’ll let you know when it is rescheduled.
• We’ve been trying to decide if we need to do a biopsy now or not, since we haven’t decided if we’re doing a transplant right now or not. Brian called the doctor for their thoughts and we were told that there is no need to do a biopsy until we decide we are going to do a transplant. So that was helpful to have a clear answer for that.
• It is really up to Brian and I to decide which treatment to do next. The Omaha doctors suggested to “watch and wait” until Brian becomes symptomatic again…mentioning that a 3rd transplant would be a last resort. The KU doctors seem to be leaning towards a 3rd transplant, reminding us that Omaha doctors don’t do many “donor-transplants” …and a transplant would be the only scientific hope for a cure.
• Some of you have asked “what happens if Brian doesn’t do any treatment?” The short answer is that eventually all of his symptoms will return (itching, night sweats, fatigued, weight loss) and the cancer will continue to attack his immune system, causing him to be increasingly susceptible to infection. I honestly don’t think we’ll have that long before the itching comes back. He’s already itching to a small degree. It will only get worse. And if nothing else plays mental games with you throughout this whole process, it is having an itch all over your body that you just can’t satisfy or scratch hard enough. At that point, we would definitely want to have a treatment chosen.
• We’ve looked at a drug called “Revlimid” that is a pill-form of chemotherapy. It is a pill he would take daily, and it works by blocking or inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels to the cancer, therefore, helping reduce the amount of growth of the cancer. This pill is approved for Multiple Myeloma, but has been in studies for Hodgin’s Lymphoma for the past few years. It has only shown 30% of reducing hodgkins, and less than 10% chance of achieving remission. However, there’s at least one or two people that Brian has talked to through some online cancer forums who have achieved remission with Revlimid and are still in remission 2 years later. So, it’s not an option we’re throwing out at this point. There are some usual side effects (fatigue, upset stomach, severe birth defects if a baby is conceived while on it – the drug is derived from the drug that caused all of the “flipper babies” in the 70’s, low blood counts, etc), but we are thinking that “it wouldn’t hurt” to try it and just see if it works in Brian’s case. You just never know.
• There’s also one or two clinical trials that Brian may be eligible for, using a few drugs in combination with each other, etc.
So these are the things we are dealing with, thinking through, praying about. We really need discernment and wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. Other than that, “life goes on” and we’re just doing what we normally do. Here are a few things to pray for:
• Discernment and wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. And for that discernment to come sooner than later. 🙂
• Peace and confidence with the decisions we make.
• Courage. We are willing to walk this road, but we are searching for the courage to do so.
• That God would be famous through it all. John 9:1-3 speaks of an ill man and addresses a crowd’s questions when asking why the man is sick. Jesus says “This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” That is what we are believing about Brian and his cancer.