Cycle 1, Week 3

Hey folks.

I hope you all are well and are either getting some rest and good family time or are at least looking forward to it. I think our family reflects the latter; we’re hoping for some good down time. Cooper, he doesn’t know it yet, but I bought him a new chew toy so he doesn’t have to devour the cardboard wrapping paper roll…

It is Thursday morning, and I find myself by our colorful tree with a fire burning inside but a cold, nasty rain outside, and with my dog in my lap. It sounds (and is) nice, but I’m struggling to find contentment. I honestly haven’t felt the urge or had a spark to write recently, other than to be sound negative, discouraged, and, worst of all, whiny. So, I’ve felt it best to stay quiet.

But, as I’m sure I’ve said before, once you start giving updates on your health progress, you kinda feel like you owe it to folks to keep going, lest they worry about the silence. So, I’m going to try something a bit different. I’m going to provide an update of what’s going on with my health, but my daughter, Caroline, is going to write a little bit about our journey from her perspective. Together, we will stick to the “two stories” model.

This has been a tough week. Kim and I drove to Nashville on Sunday, and we spent all day in the clinic on Monday. That was mostly boring, but the good news is that we enjoyed some yummy oysters at The Fin and Pearl in the “gulch,” and we stayed at the Thompson Hotel, which is pretty swanky (I got a good deal, and Sarah Cannon reimburses me up to $200/night for the study).

Then, on Tuesday, I had to get another biopsy. The Interventional Radiology team loaded me up with Benadryl, Fentanyl, and Versed, and then stuck a foot-long needle up my keister. It seemed like FORever, and we didn’t hit the road for home until after 4, which is the start of what is becoming Atlanta-like traffic in Nashville. I was in and out of sleep the whole way home, so poor Kim had to manage the 7 hour drive, which should only take 5. We got home after midnight, and crashed.

Yesterday, I had to get my nephrostomy tube (look it up if you don’t know what that is) replaced in my right kidney, so it was 5 hours at Piedmont Athens Regional. My friend and pastor, Jared, gave Kim a break and took me to the hospital and stayed with me. Thankfully, they gave me only moderate sedation for this procedure, but, given the biopsy and long day on Tuesday, suffice to say that my body is about worn out.

I woke this morning to a sore kidney and a still-sore butt. I feel like Charlie the Unicorn after his adventure at Candy Mountain (YouTube Link). I need some rest. Thank you to all who have brought us meals and prayed for us. We couldn’t survive this without our village.

As Forrest Gump says, “that’s all I got to say about that.”

Caroline, take it away:

Just a little disclaimer. What I am about to talk about in no way shape or form am I complaining or asking for pity. I am simply being real about the struggles I face as a 15 year old whose Dad has cancer.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way! I’m going to share some stories over the six years my family has lived with cancer. I think it’s best to start all the way back in April of 2013. It was April 13, 2013, I had just turned 10, and life to me could not get any better. I had a loving family, went to a school I loved, and had almost everything a ten year old could want. Now cancer was not something new to me, my grandfather was diagnosed with renal cell cancer when I was three. Though I new what cancer was, I did not necessarily know what its effects could have on people and their families.  My parents sat us down before church that day and said they needed to tell us something. I can’t really remember much from that conversation, but all I remember hearing was the word  tumor.  I think my body went into some sort of shock because I really don’t remember much of that day at all. That conversation would be the first of many hard conversations my parents would have with us.

Flash forward to June of 2013, my dad had just started chemo. This was definitely a hard time for me. It was summer, I had all the free time in the world to play outside and be with my friends, but having my dad on chemo changed me. I can vividly recollect coming home from being at a friend’s house while my parents were gone, and seeing my dad sitting on a chair in our living room looking pale and weary. I would go up and give him a hug, and tell him I loved him, but I had to be careful not to hug too hard because I could tug on the tube connected to his port. I can still faintly hear the whirring sound of the pump pumping chemo into my dad’s body  The chemo and trips to Houston would lead to my still struggle today with anxiety.

My anxiety started with the fact that I did not like being away from home because I had this fear that something bad would happen to my dad, and I would not be there to see him. Then it morphed into my mom or dad couldn’t even leave my side. I would cry at the age of ten if my mom left me to go to the grocery store. I still struggle with this anxiety today, but I have ways to cope and deal with it.

2013 was the start of the next extremely hard six years. My mom and dad would leave every three or so months to go to MD Anderson Cancer Center, when I was in middle school. One time when I was in seventh grade they missed Sam and I’s birthday, which was a hard thing to forgive, but I had to because I knew it was not their fault. Throughout middle school, I struggled with my faith and relationship with the Lord. I don’t think I was ever angry at him, but I spent a lot of time in doubt. Since I was doubting God and my friends did not really understand, I kept a lot of my emotions held in. I hated middle school because I felt very alone and misunderstood.

It was not until February of  2017 that I read my bible and I stopped doubting God. The second semester of my eight grade was I think the best time of my life. I was reading my Bible consistently, and trusting the Lord in everything.  Freshman year of high school was a whirlwind, and I spent a lot of it stressed about school. I know I grew during that season,  but it I had a hard time seeing God’s plan.  Now I am here, I just finished my first semester of sophomore year. This semester was a challenging one, and I felt the Lord testing me a lot. This was a season full of growth, and ups and downs.

My parents have been gone every single week because of the new trial, and this has affected me and my family. It think the best thing we can do as a family is enjoy the time we have together especially during this holiday season and not bicker and fight over the little things. I am not sure what 2019 is going to look like, but I know that the Lord is going to be with us every step of the way.

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has been there for our family, whether it be providing meals, giving rides and places to stay, and just simply praying.  You guys are a huge help! I would also like to thank a family close to us who are going through a similar situation. Thank you for praying and giving me a friend who can understand me. We are praying for y’all and love y’all dearly.

And for anyone wondering, here are a few thing you can pray for!

  1. Strength for my dad as he continues to fight cancer, my mom as she balances being there for my dad, taking care of us crazy kids, and working a job, and for us kids as we navigate life with cancer
  2. Courage for all of us as my dad goes through this trial
  3. Love: That us kids we will learn to love another especially with our parents being gone every week
  4. Faith: That the Lord will continue to help grow us in our faith in Him

Love, Caroline


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Mark Baine says:

    Brent, ypu and your family are inspirational to us all. I appreciate the perspective and gentle reminder to cherish those (like you) I care about. Like the format!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ashlie Johnson says:

    Caroline..thank you for your beautiful, honest words and love for your daddy. Ya’ll will always be special to us. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Marnie Witters says:

    Caroline, Thank you for your loving words. It helps me understand how to pray for you all. May God bless each of you more than ever this Christmas!!!


  4. Tony Dittmeier says:

    These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce. He who does not really feel himself lost, is without remission; that is to say, he never finds himself, never comes up against reality.” — José Ortega y Gasset

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Miriam says:

    Brent and Caroline, all I can say is that my life is richer because I am so fortunate to know you both (along with the rest of your family). Thank you for your courage and vulnerability – it is an example and inspiration to many.


  6. Nancy Perrine says:

    Hopefully sharing your words and feelings brings you strength, because it certainly helps direct and give me strength in your process. Thanking you all and wishing peaceful blessings…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy Lester says:

    Dear Brent,
    You and your family are always in our prayers. We admire your courage and your faith.

    Caroline’s portion is exceptional and demonstrates a talent for expression almost equal to yours.

    We hope you have a a Merry Christmas and that the new year will be better for you and your family.

    Charlie and Nancy Lester

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Anothermad says:

    Sweet Caroline. . . We will remember to pray for you (and your whole family), when we lift up your dad’s health. How right you are that the Lord will never leave you or forsake you. ❤
    And Brent, we will pray specifically for a time of rest and encouragement over the holidays. We love y’all.

    Liked by 1 person

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