Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. Psalm 30:2
In 1999, shortly after I moved to the west coast, I signed up for a 10K run with my friend Deb. Being an experienced runner she somehow managed to convince me that doing this together was going to be great fun. I really liked saying I was a “runner” because I truly aspired to that California persona. I was also excited about the prospect of sporting a t-shirt that showed people just how healthy and active I was. The details on race day (or “run” day rather) are foggy, but I do remember three things:
1) I was not in good enough shape to be running 6.4 miles,
2) Toward the end, it got really really hard and I wanted to stop running so badly, and 3) My dear friend Deb would not stop running, and therefore wasn’t letting me stop either.
As vivid as if it happened yesterday, I distinctly remember feeling like I was going to die, my legs felt like noodles, and I had fire in my lungs. As I looked to my right, I saw Deb, next to me, matching my stride and realized that she had slowed to barely a jog, encouraging me,
“Come on Kay, You can do this. It’s not much further!”
When we made it across the finish line, I was so relieved to stop running. I was so tired that I wanted to collapse. I was so proud of myself for not quitting and I was so thankful to have my friend, sweet Deb, running at a snail’s pace next to me who kept cheering me on to the very end. And 20 years later, my friend is still running races with me, encouraging me to finish strong.
Last Thursday when Brandon and I were waiting to see the doctor, I brought a book and was prepared for a long wait because the nurse said its was going to be a while. But just as swiftly as he entered the clinic room the very first day we met him, he abruptly opened the door just as I was about to dive into my reading. But all I saw was an extended arm reach into the room, as he dropped the report into Brandon’s lap and announced,
“Okay, I’m done.”
He pretended to leave, but then smiled, opened the door, and matter-of-factly stated, “You’re cured!”
I came into this scan surprisingly calm, but this is not what we were expecting. I didn’t even have a chance to really register what he was saying.
I was in shock.
As he sat down at the computer to show us some images, I wanted to keep my composure because he jumped right to the business of pulling up the pictures on the computer screen, but I wanted to savor what he said for just a moment. Did he really just say I was cured? My vision became a bit blurry, as tears started to well up in my eyes. I looked at Brandon and saw that he was experiencing the muted elation as me. I touched his leg as if to say, “Wow, we finally did this.”
I have officially decided (if I haven’t declared this before) that I really don’t like scans. The whole “scanxiety” thing for one wreaks havoc on your body when cortisol levels are high due to stress days and weeks before scan day. Two years ago, I was on a machine that was different than the previous scan, the uptake (SUV) numbers went up slightly. These are the numbers that measure how active the cancer cells are based on uptake of the radioactive glucose that is injected into the body… because cancer loves sugar and takes it up faster than healthy cells. The report that gave explanation to these elevated numbers said it could be due to the variation in the machines. This was very upsetting to me because a lot of decisions about what we do next is based on the results of these scans. So every scan after that I have been diligent to request to be scanned on the “690 PET CT scanner”, to keep consistency and reduce the possibility of any more “variations” among the machines used.
This time, the SUV numbers were higher again on the report, something that I thought should be concerning, but in examining the images, everything overall was brighter. Something was off with the contrast, so once again, those numbers were misleading. The CT scan which is grayscale, was very interesting however, as it showed a lot of calcification in the tumor.
What causes calcification?
He said that inflammation causes calcification. Hmmm… I thought inflammation was bad. It seems like every other day that word is thrown around in discussions regarding anti-inflammatory diets, and people selling turmeric supplements. But apparently not all inflammation is bad. Apparently, my immune system is finally “gettin’ busy” with that tumor, blocking the formation of new blood cells (anti-angiogenesis, for all you science lovers out there), and essentially turning it into a rock. Cancer cells are cells that have lost the ability to self-destruct and grow out of control and that is no longer happening here my friends… not in this body!
Short on time, he congratulated me with a huge smile, told me to keep doing what I’m doing and gave me a hall pass to wait for a year before coming back to Stanford. My other good news is that I have officially graduated off of PET scans and for that I am so very grateful. BUT, this doesn’t mean I get a ticket to go back to my old ways, nor do I want one. My body feels amazing after treating it with love, care, and compassion and I am on a mission to inspire YOU to do the same.
I posted this last week after my scan. I know that in the midst of my battle, it encouraged me to know about the people who were fighting… and winning. To all those who are in the middle of your journey right now, keep going… even at a snail’s pace… the finish line is just ahead!
To Deb, my faithful friend, who has been there with me through all my ups and downs, encouraged me to cross finish lines of all lengths, and has the gift of encouragement that is priceless. Thank you for being my wing “woman” over 20 years ago, celebrating my 30th birthday in Napa 17 years ago, bringing the spa to me during chemotherapy 2 years ago, and crossing this finish line today. You are an angel.
To all my friends, family, and supporters, those who know me intimately, and those who have never met me. I thank you, we have all crossed this finish line together. You ALL made a difference with your thoughts, love, texts, cards, gifts, donations, Hope 4 Kay t-shirts you bought and faithfully wore, the green bracelets, and most importantly your prayers, each and every one of you are responsible for this victory.
To Brandon, Kaitlyn, Trinity, and Addison… you ALL are my WHY and thank you for being the best family a girl could ever ask for. Thank you for keeping it together over these past three years when I haven’t been “all there”, for enduring my increasingly serious nature and freak out moments, for keeping me laughing, and tolerating my green smoothies. I love you guys so much.
And to God, without whom, I just simply wouldn’t be here today… Thank you for faithfulness. You didn’t allow for to come out of the trial two years ago when I really wanted to be cancer free. You had plans that I couldn’t see or understand. You taught me how to dig deeper to exercise my grit, to love unconditionally when life got ugly, and to trust You fiercely Lord, thank you.
The crazy thing is that this week when checking my calendar, I saw this…
As silly as this sounds, it felt odd to write this because I wrote it last week before my trip to California for my scan, before I knew the results. Doodling on my planner while I was doing something else, where in the world did I even get the thought to put pen to paper? hmmmm… interesting. I had totally forgotten about it until Monday when I opened up my calendar and … BAM! There is was. It gave me goosebumps to see it and I realized that it’s during moments like this that I feel God’s presence so acutely.
I give GOD all the glory and praise for His healing.
Onward and Upward my friends… we have crossed the finish… together.
If you are inspired by this blog, please leave a comment, share it, or follow. I love hearing your feedback.