As I write this, my husband and I are nearing the end of a full day’s drive at the end of a quick family weekend. It’s been the sweetest two days with my Dad, our bonus mom Mary, my brother and sister and several of the nieces and nephews. We had entirely too much food coupled with long conversations and the usual banter and ridiculously loud laughter. We’ve walked away with a mixture of lofty dreams, shared griefs and plenty of prayer needs for the days ahead. And at the end of these hours together we find ourselves holding tight to what really matters.
Many of you have been praying for my brother, Andy and his wife Liz as he battles glioblastoma. Thank you! We’ve posted updates on facebook but I want to take a few minutes today to share with you the effects of your prayers. Andy finished his first round of chemo and radiation about a month ago and his follow-up MRI showed no signs of cancer growth where they removed a brain tumor back in November. He is now in his second round of chemo and is handling it well as he takes his meds at night and is able to sleep through most of the side effects. He finds himself much more tired than usual, but that seems to be the worst of the side effects.
His doctors are very pleased with where he is right now in terms of his health. Though the scans can not detect what is going on at a molecular level, they show no evidence of cancer at a cellular level. Many have asked if this means he is healed? Maybe yes, maybe no. Is it still worth celebrating? Absolutely! And that is what we’re choosing to do with each new day, and learning a whole lot in the process.
Holding tight to what really matters
Outside of the hand of God, this diagnosis remains a part of his story that will never change. But this weekend we talked of things that can and are changing, both in spite of and in response to this diagnosis.
… He’s been forced to slow down a bit, and as contrary as that is to the DNA of our family tree, he’s choosing to enjoy each moment as fully as he can. I find myself wanting to slow down too, so as not to zip right past those things that are truly important.
… He’s looking and listening intently for the right moments and places to invest in and encourage others as they walk the same unwanted road on which he finds himself. I’m convicted about how I can so easily hide my own struggles, because they’re not as obvious as hair loss. And I find myself wondering exactly why I’m not as willing as I sometimes need to be in sharing them with others. How many blessings and opportunities we’ve all missed because we bought into this lie that sharing our pain is not safe or necessary or helpful. It’s vulnerable. But it can also be the very thing we, and others, need for healing and hope to break wide open.
… He’s looking to the future with hope, even in the face of statistics. Settling the tail end of life now brings grace enough to fully live each day leading up to it. And there is such hope to be had in the salvation that Christ offers. And somewhere in choosing to live for His purpose in each day that we do have shifts our focus away from the ones we may not.
… He’s reminded me of so many things without even knowing he’s done so. Like the fact that choosing to be grateful is a much healthier option than grumbling. For me and for all of those around me. And the fact that whatever “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day” I find myself in the middle of, there is always, always something to be grateful for.
… He’s willingly talked of how he hasn’t gotten everything right over the years, who amongst us has? But his current journey is reminding all of us that it’s never too late to choose to hold tight to what really matters.
… He’s taken to wearing hats to keep his head warm in these winter months, because he says a comb over just isn’t an option at his age. We all agreed. Heartily.
Thanks again for all of your prayers on Andy’s behalf and we see no reason for you to stop now! They have been answered in so many ways, well beyond what any of us could have ever asked or imagined.