Yesterday, Richard and I sat waiting to see my oncologist. I glanced around the sitting area and looked into the faces of patients at different stages of their cancer journey. There was a quiet understanding between us. A look of determination. A sense of fatigue. A demonstration of resiliency. We were nestled in a busy office of health care professionals who work earnestly to provide the very best care. My mind reflected on relationships that have made all the difference over the past 17 months. I have been touched by the genuine concern of those involved in my care plan — the nurse who helped me find courage during my first chemotherapy treatment, the doctors who recognized my need to learn through the journey, and the nurse who listened carefully to my concerns after my latest lab results. I knew we were getting prepared to “start again.”
“And suddenly I knew . . . It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.”
About one month ago, we received the results from my latest CT scan. I had to pause and take a deep breath as I processed significant changes in my disease progression. The scan showed two collapsed lobes, pleural effusion, and two more rib fractures on the right side. We stopped the immunotherapy and determined to send my lung tissue sample off to see if I have genetic markers that could help pinpoint targeted therapy. I was scheduled for a thoracentisus to drain the fluid from the pleural effusion. What a blessing! My breathing improved and the heaviness in my lungs lifted. Now . . . the waiting began for the pathology report on my genetic markers.
Finally, Dr. Nibley received the results and we scheduled an appointment to review next steps. He smiled as he walked in the room and noticed my hair. I finally found the courage to take off the head scarves last week and reveal what looks like a very short pixie cut. Very short. We celebrated the fact that two genetic markers were found and discussed our next choice of treatment — clinical trial drugs. While we sat together, Dr. Nibley called the specialist who coordinates the clinical trials and became a bridge as we worked to establish a new relationship. We also determined the need to work with a surgeon and have a catheter placed in my chest cavity that will be used to drain the pleural effusion every few weeks. I watched Dr. Nibley put all the pieces together to ensure I receive the finest care. He has become a trusted member of our family as we look to “start again.”
And so, my soul continues to sing as I find great contentment through this journey. I look to new beginnings as we move to a different treatment path. I recognize how relationships bring joy and a deep richness to my life. There is something about “starting again.” A continued acknowledgment of hope. An expression of commitment. A sense of deep humility as I clearly recognize His will. An opportunity to tackle cancer.