I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
—Isaiah 40:10 (NRSV)
If you caught my sermon this last week, or if you are on the prayer chain, or if you are an active member of our FCC rumor mill, you will no doubt already know about the situation that Pam and I suddenly find ourselves facing. For those few who might not know, Pam had a tumor removed from her hip recently that proved to be a reoccurrence of a melanoma cancer she had 11 years ago. While her surgeon felt confident that he had clear margins on the tumor and had gotten it all, we soon discovered that it had already spread to her abdomen and was causing serious swelling and fluid retention.
We are now in a holding pattern, waiting to hear that our Insurance will cover the recommended treatment, which will involve four infusion sessions, one every three weeks throughout the summer. She will then be tested again to see what further treatment may be necessary. Technically speaking, we’re told this is an immunotherapy approach rather than chemotherapy. The doctor told us she won’t lose her hair, or her lunch, or her sense of humor. Here’s hoping! Melanoma is unique among cancers in that it attacks and weakens the immune system so that it can spread. Our concern is to do all we can to strengthen her immune system so that it will die, and Pam can go on to live a long, healthy and happy life.
Our circumstances are made more precarious because of the coronavirus. Completely apart from our being in a high-risk category due to age, Pam’s cancer makes her extremely vulnerable. Assuming you are following the news, you’ll know that the current cultural mood is to open up the country, with scant regard for social distancing, and essentially “damn the torpedoes.” While I can understand people wanting to get back out there, to something like a more normal life, in Pam’s case, and many others for that matter, this rush to openness could be literally life threatening.
So, for the time being, I have gone back to working from home: doing services, attending zoom meetings, writing letters and staying in touch with email and by phone. I’m strictly limiting my own exposure in order to limit Pam’s, but I will still keep in touch as best we are able in these crazy times.
We have been overwhelmed by your loving expressions of caring and support. I delivered a hand full of cards to Pam with breakfast this morning, telling her that her “fan mail” had arrived. We both had a laugh, followed by a few tears. Those of you who have been through something like this know what an emotional roller coaster it can be. We are so grateful for your caring, for your soups, and for your offers to help in any way. At the moment, there isn’t much for any of us to do but wait and pray. Of course, we will certainly let you know as things develop. In the meantime, we gratefully accept any and all prayers, and we trust that we will be upheld by God’s “victorious right hand.”
Yours in Grace,