Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cancer is Back

Biopsy after Biopsy. Waiting after waiting.  Good signs after good signs. We finally have concrete evidence and a diagnosis. Hodgkin Lymphoma is back in my amazing Chis and slowing trying to kill him.  The key part of that sentence is the word "slowly."  It was so hard to find, and hardly growing so we're hopeful we caught it early. Just like two years ago, we are literally in the middle of an international move to a new location empty of people we know.  The diagnosis came 3 hours after waving goodbye to our moving truck. As well, it was my birthday. (That's for you Chris! I'm turning Canadian).

The treatment plan is the same as what they thought it would be 4 months ago when they first warned us it might be back: 2-3 months of harsh chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant that will most likely include a 2-4 week hospital stay.  Of course this is what our Canadian oncologists have recommended and as we get connected with new doctors (but we first have to find them and muck through the insurance mess) we will be subject to their recommendations. I am told that the treatment plan outlined is generally accepted as the best next step for patients in Chris' condition of recurring Hodgkin lymphoma.

That was two days ago. I wasn't feeling well yesterday (bad sore throat and aches) and got to bed so early that by 7:00 this morning I was wide awake. I used this early morning quiet time to reread the most recent General Conference talk by President Uchtdorf on Hope and Light.  I had randomly come across is 4 days ago and wondered at the time, if this talk was preparing me for the upcoming results of Chris' biopsy....maybe they were going to be bad news, maybe I would need to really study this talk as I digested the news.  Turns out it was, and I did, so I am. On my first pass through it I was struck by this paragraph:

"To all who feel they walk in darkness, I invite you to rely on this certain promise spoken by the Savior of mankind: "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life"

As I contemplate helping Chris fight cancer again, I am certain of a few things. I know I will fail at some things. I know I will not be able to do all the good things I want to do. I know I will 'mess up' at being a good mom and a tender wife, two of my roles I value most. I know there will come times when we'll need to make important decisions and I know that if I can have the Spirit with me, I will not be brought down by my shortcomings but instead carried the distance I need to go.  So it seems paramount that over the next 6 months I do what I can to follow Jesus, to 'have the light of life' beside me, to help me recognize my mistakes quickly, to lift me up when I feel down so that I may help my family through this hard thing that has been 'our lot' to live through. Because the kids are asleep and I don't want to wake them up to find my journal, I'll record here the top 3 things I feel will help me keep the Holy Ghost as my companion:

  1. Go to bed early - a full nights rest can work wonders for my body and emotions, and (double bonus) it helps me avoid watching dumb things on TV that even if they don't scare away the Spirit, they certainly don't invite Him to stay. 
  2. Bring back meaningful scripture study with journal writing - I've not been consistent the past few months with recording my thoughts in my journal as I read my scriptures and I KNOW this habit increases the effectiveness (amount of peace and light felt) of my study 10 fold.
  3. Don't yell - I've always wanted to be better at hiding my impatience and nothing drives away the Spirit like contention. This will be hard, but I'm telling myself its not 'who I am' but just a 'bad habit' that I can change with focused intention. 

On the complete other hand, to prove that I'm not being hard on myself, I also know, from experience, that over the next 6 months we will have many moments of happiness.  That we will feel surrounded by love and light as we notice and are grateful for the support and love of those who will inevitably help us. I know the strength and power of loving family and friends.  I know the joy that comes from feeling like, "We're doing ok!" As well, I know we will enjoy exploring and getting to know a new location, culture and seeing the beauty of a Southern landscape.  :)

I'm not afraid, I'm not surprised or confused. I'm not angry or numb. I'm sad. I'm wary. I'm hopeful.

13 comments:

dixie said...

Thanks for a beautiful post. I love the way you expressed your feelings about this. We love you and pray for you always.

Erin Johnson said...

We love you and admire your faith and optimism in such hard circumstances. And we will miss you all so terribly!!! Mississippi sure is lucky to have you!

merilee said...

I've been thinking about you so much lately Brittany. You have been through so much. Bless you and your family! I will continue to pray for you. Love you!

Amy said...

Sending thoughts and prayers your way. I feel a little guilty that your post uplifted me, instead of me trying to uplift you.

Jess said...

So beautiful Brit. You are such an example. Our hearts are aching for you. We love you guys so much.

emlizalmo said...

Well you are just amazing, Brittany. Really you are. So glad you listened to that prompting to stop and read the words by Elder Uchtdorf and that they brought you peace when it would certainly be easy to feel anything but. You and Chris and your sweet kids have the prayers of the Schofirld family.

K said...

WE can do hard things....so excited to hear/see of your new journey back in the USA....!

Amy said...

Love you, Brittney.

Christy Harker said...

I'm telling you if you don't write a book, I'm going to have to use all your quotes from your blog and do it myself. Somehow you can explain yourself so well and touch people in a way that is remarkable. Thanks for letting me feel how you are feeling too. I'm going to do your 3 things too, k.

Karen said...

Our family returned home from our holiday yesterday and as per usual I was emptying the mail box of all the unwanted flyers when I saw the envelope from your sweet little family! Reading it filled my heart with returned feeling of love and admiration for you and Chris and your dear little ones. We will all miss you and will continue to pray for you and Chris as you enter this next phase of your life with so many challenges and uncertainty. I was thrilled to see the link to your blog included in your note, and look forward to keeping in touch through your words and photos. You are truly an inspiration Brittany! Thank you for the reminder to always strive to keep the spirit with us, your suggestions are inspired guidance for all of us to follow. Love you!

Vhari said...

I'm so sorry for all of you, but so impressed by your beautiful, strong words. You are an amazing person Brittany. You both are such great, smart people. I'll be thinking about you all often and I'll be praying for you.

MandaMommy said...

:( I'm sorry for both of you. But I'm so happy for you that you have peace and comfort! We love you guys!

Katie B. said...

Brittany, I was so sad to hear about Chris's cancer returning! I was just talking with my dad about it (he's a bone marrow transplant doctor at the U and one of the top doctors in that field), and he agrees that the plan you outlined is the best plan at this point. Get him into complete remission and then do an autologous bone marrow transplant. That has a really good chance of working, and there are still options (a transplant from another person--allogeneic transplant, etc.). So even though it's still a long, hard road ahead, there is a lot to be hopeful for. Please feel free to email if you want to ask my dad any questions. Love you! Katie