Good news, the majority of the tumors measured are shrinking. None have grown, and only two have stayed the same. The cancer started at the base of the esophagus, the primary tumor. They are unable to evaluate any change to this tumor because the stent is pushing and distorting anything that would be measurable. The stent is also allowing Jeff to eat anything he wants so we won't complain about it being difficult to measure. Then the cancer is also in his lungs and lymph nodes. Some of the lung tumors measured up to 50% decrease. And a lymph node measured a 25% decrease. This is called partial response and it is a very good sign that the targeted chemo approach is working. We will continue the course and Jeff will have three more rounds, one every three weeks until this cycle is finished. He will then do another scan late July and decide what is next.
The news came much later than the three hours we anticipated. We arrived in London and Jeff had a high fever. An extra appointment was made, and he started emergency antibiotics. By the next morning the fever had subsided and blood work looked good. At 12:30 Jeff got the scan and the results were to be ready to go over with Dr. Gaya at 3:00. At the 3 o' clock appointment we learned that the server went down after 12 pm, and that the scan was inaccessible. Jeff's oncologist was also leaving for Tokyo the next morning. We left knowing very little and waited for five days while his doctor tried his best to access the scans from Tokyo. We got the email three days ago, the night before Jeff left for round 4 of chemo. Our patience and trust muscles have to be getting a little bigger.
We are rejoicing that the cancer is not spreading. We are thankful that the majority of the tumors are shrinking. Hopeful that this will continue to work and Jeff will continue to tolerate the daily grind of chemo pills, hiccups, stent pain, and fatigue. Jeff has always been a long distance runner in life and relationships. He stays the course through wind, snow, or rain. Slow and patient, he wakes up and trudges through whatever the day and symptoms throw at him. He long distance runs in ministry, friendships, and as a husband and father. It really is a blessing especially when we see such a long road ahead of us. I don't have a doubt that he will run it well depending on a big God who can do impossibly big things.
I am a sprinter by nature. Man I can run fast, but for a very short time. And then, hopefully when no one is looking, my knees buckle and I dry heave. I feel like I have been sprinting for a really long time. Once the recent good news came through, my legs buckled on the path. It hasn't been pretty. And chocking out, "Really, I am good, I just need more sleep maybe," while sucking in breath and sobs, does not convince people you are doing okay. My faith this week feels small. My stomach clenches the minute my eyes flutter open. The confidence I had last week, last month, feels lost in the getting through of the days. But I also stared at a mustard seed and reread Luke 17:6 over and over. Thankful for a friend who was willing to spare a mustard seed and not think I am crazy.
When Jeff and I pray together we ask for God to heal Jeff's body but to also heal our hearts, and minds. To change the way we see things. When something like this hits, you see so clearly how the suffering of the heart and mind can wreak as much havoc as the suffering of the body. We don't want to come out of this unchanged. I pray our hearts will be stretched far wider. And that our minds will dwell on truth instead of fear. Both Jeff and I have spoken to so many people who have walked through the deep waters of illness, grief, and pain. Some have walked it alone, and others have just begun. I know even on the knee buckling days, God will use us. Because He is faithful to waste nothing. Not one once of getting it right or hopelessly wrong, Not a bit of the walking it out gracefully or dry heaving on the side line is wasted. Faith as small as a mustard seed will uproot fear and despair.
We are tired as we approach the end of our first year in Scotland. But we are tired and hopeful. There is still so much to be done between now and the next two months. The grandmas come in ten days and we are so excited. Thank you for continuing to stand with us. The emails, letters, cards, blankets, lego sets, and prayers have encouraged us more than we could ever express.
Much love, Becca