Watch & Wait or Watch & Worry?

posted in: Cancer, Cancer and faith 0

Three months goes so quickly. I can’t believe it’s already time for blood tests and the monitoring hospital appointment. He’s feeling pretty good but I worry because he suddenly gets tired and breathless. His scalp is a bit itchy and dry but no sign of any eczema-like patches. I can’t help worrying about his appointments. I suppose I always will.

We measure out our lives by monitoring appointments. Currently they’re every 3 months, which means the docs aren’t too concerned. It’s a lot better than monthly visits and I won’t forget the period when Husband was waiting for the splenectomy and had appointments twice a week.

I am grateful that we’re in 3 month mode at the moment but as I wait to walk into the consulting room with him for yet more test results I feel like there’s a big lead weight in my stomach and on my chest. Breathe. Pray. “Dear Lord help me to take my eyes off our scary problems and fix them on you. You are so much greater than our problems.” Put one foot in front of the other. He’s been called.

Red cells are up again slightly to 14.5, which is terrific. The platelets are also up to 380, white cells up to 8.1. But what about the paraproteins? They’re the ones we’re most concerned about these days now that Husband has the luxury of enough red cells and platelets.

Bummer. The paraproteins are up a tad from 3.6 to 4. I’m sure that Husband feels a bit sick like me but his expression doesn’t flicker.

The doc notes that the protein reading may possibly be a sign that the cancer is slowly picking up again but that the levels could simply be plateauing. He explains that proteins can fluctuate in response to infection so that may also explain the change. He reassures us that all the other blood numbers are good and show no sign of anything to be concerned about, although Husband’s immunity remains “a bit on the low side”. There’s good news in terms of his chest though. The doc declares that it sounds “pretty good”.

Whatever is causing Husband’s continuing breathlessness doesn’t seem to be concerning the docs. It’s not dramatic but we’re both conscious that it’s there and it’s not normal for him. Or perhaps now it is normal for him – part of that ‘new normal’ people speak of to try to explain things that really aren’t normal. It’s more polite than “you just have to get on with it”!

Husband is clearly disappointed by the paraprotein result because he’s forgotten his prescription as soon as it’s been put in his hand. I have to steer him to the hospital pharmacy to get his antibiotics. We wait for the antibiotics. There’s a lot of waiting in hospitals. We should be good at it by now. Husband comments, “They really have no idea how hard the ups and downs of blood results are, especially numbers going in the wrong direction”.

I Google as we wait. According to the Macmillan website infection can indeed cause an increase in CRP protein so we hadn’t misheard that. That may be the reason. It may not. I think we both feel that this is the start of a worrying trend. Husband is even worried that if his levels suddenly rocket in the wrong direction they’ll want to treat him in the summer. He’d hate to ‘waste’ summer in chemo.

Of course we’re getting ahead of ourselves, particularly since all the other blood numbers are good. We just can’t help it. As ever we’re unlikely to know until the next test or indeed the one after that.

I feel quite sick for him, angry at the cancer. We just want a bit of a break, some stability, the remission the medical staff have talked about … again. It sounds daft but I feel angry with the universe. It is just so unfair.

I had a moment in the hospital of “Dear Lord, why now, why so soon?” even though nothing is definitely happening yet. His blood levels haven’t been this good in years … with the exception of those rotten little paraproteins. But Husband is right – psychologically you take a knock if the numbers go in the wrong direction, whether it’s part of a trend or not.

I’m grateful that he’s still here and that he feels good. He still has his life. But it feels precarious at times. We were vaguely talking about the future today and he commented, “If I make it to 66 … ”. That’s only 5 years. It breaks my heart that he has to think like that but he does. We can both reasonably hope for longer but he’s right that nothing is a given. I’m also aware that there are people who would give anything to be able to hope for 5 years. But that doesn’t help much. I’d like everyone to be able to live into their 70s.

Never mind the numbers. God is sovereign. The cancer is beyond us but it’s not beyond God. The Bible tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus for a reason. Past hurts and present difficulties don’t go away but our perspective changes. We are weak but he is not. We may feel lost but he is not. We may feel afraid but he is not. A situation may be completely beyond us but nothing is beyond him. I know that to be true from my own life. It’s just that sometimes I get distracted by all that’s going on in life and forget where to look for help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.