Jeff got diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer on March 18th, 2015. In five months we have walked through complete shock, denial, despair, hope, and acceptance. The last 6 weeks have been the hardest so far in this journey. Jeff went from tolerating the treatments fairly well to getting sick constantly, being breathless after climbing any stairs, and so tired some days he could only make it from bed to couch. These are also the same six weeks that all three of our Young Life camps happened. We have never felt so humbled in our ability. The greater Young Life family, some amazing student leaders (Euan, Mahlea, and Cameron), and an amazing team from McLean VA, stepped up and all three camps happened. We simply could not have pulled any of this off without the Scotland Young Life staff or these leaders. On behalf of the many new creations from these camps, we are thankful and learning new things about God's grace to use us in our weakness.
Two weeks ago Jeff noticed he was having difficulty swallowing again. Our hearts sunk and the fears bubbled up as we travelled to London for an endoscopy and scan. The endoscopy to show what was happening to the stent and primary tumor and the scan to show how the cancer had responded to the last three rounds. It was a rough trip, Jeff needing to sit and rest after a few yards walking and continuing to get sick. The endoscopy showed that the stent had fallen into his stomach (hence the heavy feeling and continual sickness) and that he had a large pulmonary embolism in his lung (hence the zero energy and breathlessness). The first news was exciting, the stent has always caused pain and that impacted Jeff in so many ways. The Doctor was able to fish the stent out that day. It also meant that it had dropped out of place due to a shrinking primary tumor. The blood clot in the lung was terrifying. He since has started daily injections to prevent any other clots from forming and to help resolve this one.
We got the scan results two nights ago. It was by phone because his oncologist was away while we were in London. The scans showed that there was minimal response this time. Obviously the primary tumor did respond but that tumor was never measured in the beginning because of location and stent interfering with a reliable measurement. With this information the oncologist and Jeff felt it was best to stop the Cisplatin. This is the standard heavy hitting chemo he was receiving every three weeks. He will continue taking the chemo pills for two weeks and one week off. He will also still take the Herceptin, which is the targeted drug for the HER2+ diagnosis. Our hope being that this will be enough to hold the cancer at bay and give him better quality of life.
There are so many unknowns ahead of us right now. Now more than ever we are reassuring the boys (and ourselves) that God has a plan. That He is not surprised by any of the things that have happened to us in the last five months. And that indeed He is good and loves us beyond measure.
My mom flew home yesterday and I cannot imagine these last six weeks without her love, prayers, and words of hope. I think I cried more than the first day of kindergarten saying goodbye. The boys begin their school year next Thursday, and Jeff and I will begin to figure out how things will work this next year here in Scotland.
We have been asked by many people if we have made plans to move back home yet. The short answer is that we have prayed about it often lately but still feel we are suppose to stay here until we hear differently. Please pray for our hearts and minds as we take all of these little steps daily and make big decisions for the future.
The pictures in this post are of a hill that is behind our house. I walk up there often with Zoe and any family or friends willing to make the hike. It has become a place where I can pour out my heart and pray through some hard things. I feel like by the time Zoe and I both come through the front door my heart and mind are a little more trusting and less fearful. Thanks for all the continued love and support even an ocean away. Much love, Becca, Jeff, and the boys