OK, I admit it. My last post was a bit dramatic. This is what happens when I visit a doctor, get some bad news, listen to thought-provoking music on a car ride home, and then instantly start writing a blog post–imagine what it was like for Kim when I spewed those words past her patient, loving, don’t-know-what-to-say expression and into her ears before she told me to create a blog site. I usually let her read and comment on my posts before I publish them, but that last one was delivered to her Inbox like everyone else; she doesn’t cry often, but that post got her. And from the comments and encouragement of everyone, I guess it was heavy. It was cathartic for me. Thanks for reading, thinking, and praying. Love you guys.
The procedure went well on Friday. My mom came up, arriving at Piedmont Hospital at 7am for my 9:30 appointment. I really didn’t want her to come up, not that I don’t want her company, it’s that I didn’t feel much like talking. So it was good that Kim was there. She talked to Mom about our trip to Italy on Tuesday, and I mostly sat and thought. The procedure itself was about 30 minutes, but we spent about 6 hours there.
I’m heading to Nashville now, and I’m not exactly sure what will happen tomorrow. It seems like I’ve asked this question frequently since my surgery in January: will I continue on the current treatment or have we reached the end of its efficacy? The complication is that the last CT scan did not show much change in size of the tumor(s) in my diseased pelvic cavity. However, the ultrasounds taken by the urological clinicians tell a different story–growth within and around the bladder such that my right ureter is blocked, necessitating the nephrostomy placement on Friday.
An MRI would probably tell us the whole story, but, for reasons for which I am not fully sure, the current oncology team won’t order one. What I do know is that when you’re on a clinical trial, it is critical that there is well-defined disease to follow from beginning of treatment until progression, and the method for tracking response to therapy is CT imaging. As a result, until my oncologist is certain of progression of disease and, further, identifies clearly one or more tumors on a CT scan, she is hesitant to pull me off the current treatment and cannot put me on a new clinical trial. The only other course would be a standard therapy, which, honestly, for 3rd line cancer treatment, doesn’t elicit great enthusiasm.
So, once again, it seems we’re at a major decision point, though I feel we’ve been at a critical stage for months now. Regardless, we hope to meet with my oncologist tomorrow and hope that she knows the best course to take from here. If I may entreat you again, please pray for wisdom for our medical team and peace and trust for Kim and me.
I should say that I woke up this morning feeling great. I’m healing well, and my heart was glad. I spent a while praying and reading Scripture. It was good to be alone with the Lord as I sat on the porch, which slowly changed from dark to light as the sun rose through the woods behind me. I reflected on the love and support we’ve received through the help, encouragement, and prayers of others, which is so humbling. I’m praying for y’all too, that the Lord will bless you and your families and fight for you who are in need.
And as to that last post, well, yes, I was pretty worked up. It is true that it is personally beneficial for me to write about what I’m experiencing and feeling, but I still hesitate to make the words public. Ultimately, I click the “Publish” button because I feel a calling to be a testimony to the truth and power of faith in my life.
For those that have known me a long time, especially those that knew me when I was younger and raising hell and didn’t have a care in the world for Jesus, I suspect it is easy to conclude that my current zeal is just a matter of difficult circumstance mixed with my predisposition for deep thought, which I picture as a jar filled with sand and water that has been shaken until the sand almost appears dissolved. The sand is what I attribute as faith, the water is me, the personality and the soul. I often think that some might disregard my assertion that faith is real, that there is no indwelling, living spirit with the power to transform an individual through perseverance in suffering, that what has me all stirred up is just desperation in an uncertain world and if the hardship were to suddenly pass, the writing would end with the return of the pre-cancer Brent, like sand settling to the bottom of the jar revealing the same-old water. If all there is to this world is what we can experience with our senses, then I suppose you’d be right. But I’m trying to convince you (and myself) that the work of faith goes beyond this amazing creation, beyond the jar. Just as even the filthiest of water can pass through sand and be purified, so does the working of faith in our difficult lives transform us into the people we were created to be.
Am I making myself clear?
Probably not. I find the concept of biblical transformation unto glorification to be a very difficult concept to describe in imagery; the critical component of mystery just can’t be captured.
In case it isn’t clear, the featured image is the shadow of a butterfly, a creature which is commonly used as a metaphor for transformation, pupa to butterfly. It’s a beautiful image, but it just isn’t biblical. Once in flight, we tend to marvel at the butterfly like it is something altogether new. Transformed by faith, on the other hand, and we would instead be moved by the caterpillar with wings, producing in us an irresistible desire to be transformed ourselves.
Paul says, in 1 Corinthians, “9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away” (1 Cor 13:9-10), and so it is with who we are in Christ. I can only pray that what I write provides a small glimpse of the work of faith to perfect me, but this work won’t be finished until God calls me home (years from now). Just as the sun’s rays in a short moment filtered through the stained glass butterfly hanging on my porch, you may only see the beauty of a transformed thing as a shadow or reflection as it stands firm in faith in the midst of adversity.
Oh, and don’t believe me about water purification with sand (Billy)? See here for example.