Thursday, December 10, 2015

Prayers for Molly and New Treatment Plan for Me...

Dear friends,

After being diagnosed with cancer, I always feel a special bond when I meet another cancer patient or survivor. The cancer club is the club you never want to join, but it's also one that connects you to a beautiful community of people. One of the most amazing people cancer connected me to was Molly Remmert Rossell, a beautiful young mother from Alabama who is also battling metastatic melanoma.  If you follow my facebook page, you’ve seen my post about Molly, and maybe you have even prayed for her. Molly has inspired thousands with the way she has battled this disease so gracefully, always with a positive attitude. Her strength and dignity have been such a testament to her unwavering faith and has brought glory to God. Though I’ve only known her a short time, and only via phone calls and text messages, she continues to be a blessing and an inspiration. Friends, please take a moment and pray for Molly and her family. The latest update is not good. Molly has been fighting with the best medical care and newest drugs, but the cancer has been relentless. Medical attempts have been exhausted, and Molly is being moved to palliative care in the morning.

Here is an excerpt from her sibling’s latest update: “So, how do we proceed? Molly will be moved to palliative care in the morning. In that venue, the focus will be on making her as comfortable as possible. There will not be additional medical attempts to combat her cancer and surrounding complications, as those attempts have all been exhausted.  More significantly, how do we proceed with the prospect of her (likely imminent) departure from this life? Simply, we do so as she would want us to. Prayerfully. Hopefully. Trustingly. Joyfully. For those traits are the characteristics she’s shown us throughout her entire life. And in about as graceful a manner one as one is humanly able, if we might say so. She would also want us to focus on the eternal peace she will realize in her home ahead, whenever she may enter it. For she is an Easter Person, and we are Easter People who put all of our trust not in this fleeting world, but in the resurrected Christ and in His everlasting world of Heaven above.”

I was grieved to read this update, and shed many tears tonight. I am also inspired by the faith of Molly and her family – as they are grieving this news, they are still trusting Jesus with Molly’s future. They know Molly belongs to Him, and that He will carry Molly into complete healing and restoration, if not on earth, than certainly in Heaven. Their hope is anchored in Jesus, who brings beauty from the ashes and makes all things new.

Thank you for praying for Molly and her family, and thank you for your continued prayers for us. We received some unexpected news last month. Long story short, there is actually a clause in my clinical trial paperwork that says any complete responder has to exit the trial. This was only discovered after the scans I mailed to Boston got lost somehow, and the protocol office didn’t want to clear me for my November 16th treatment that I showed up for. This was a shock for my medical team and for us. So, as of November 16th, I have been officially out of the trial and off of treatment. I told my mom I feel a little like someone took my training wheels off before I was ready to ride my bike on my own.

We are flying to Boston on Tuesday of next week for an early morning meeting with my oncologist on Wednesday. There are a few options for us – though I can no longer be in the clinical trial, one of the drugs I was taking has recently been FDA approved, so I have access to it (street name Opdivo). The other option is to do nothing for 12 months. If I stay off of treatment for 12 months, and the disease comes back, I can reenter the clinical trial. We will see what my medical team advises on Wednesday and go from there. The good news is that I can get Opdivo anywhere, now that it is FDA approved. So, that likely means no more back and forth to Boston every other week. We will have to travel there for a few follow up visits required upon exiting the trial (30 days after, 60 days after, and 100 days after). Possibly more. We just don't know yet.

I’ll share the longer version of this story at some point, but we are thankful no one caught that clause in the paperwork in June when I got the official NED report. I was able to get two more complete cycles of treatment that I technically should not have received. The crazy way I actually got into this trial, and the crazy way I got out of it are too extraordinary to not be divine. I believe God’s hand has been all in it and through it, and that has really given me an extreme peace about whatever my treatment plan is moving forward.
And an even stranger/funnier/awesome thing that happened on that trip to Boston was my cab ride from the hotel to the airport. I was still in a little bit of shock after receiving the news of my abrupt end to treatment when I got in a van to head to the airport the next morning. My Haitian driver was very chatty and asked me where I was from. When I told him Mississippi he asked, “Well what church do you go to? I know EVERYBODY in Mississippi goes to church.” I told him ALMOST everybody does, but that I HAD to go because my daddy was the preacher. ;) We chatted a little about church and he asked what I was doing in Boston. I told him I was here for cancer treatment and he got really quiet. After a few moments of silence, this precious man started praying the most beautiful, fervent prayer for me. Not knowing I was in remission, he thanked the Lord for healing me. He prayed me all the way to the airport and ruined my mascara. I’m telling you right now that Jesus showed up in that cab.
And as I look back over this entire cancer experience, that’s been the case. Jesus has just shown up for me. Through every high and low place, He just keeps showing up. Whether I ask Him to or not, and regardless of what I have done or haven't done. He is that good. Even in the hard, awful, sad, tragic things, he shows up. I’m thankful that there is more to our story than just this life on earth. But I am thankful that He gifts us with this life too. And I am so eternally thankful that He gifts us with you all, who have prayed for us and carried us through the past year. There is just no way I could not make it without your support. Thank you for the incredible ways YOU continue to show up for us.

I will update you with the new treatment plan after our meeting on Wednesday.
With much love,

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