“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11
There are some days that you will remember until your time on earth is done. Theresa and I have had many of those days, such as :
- 10/17/87 –Our First Date
- 4/28/95 – Our Marriage
- 4/15/03 – The day she said go ahead & apply for the FBI
- 9/8/03 – The day my Dad fell asleep in the Lord
- 5/20/05 – The day she told me she was pregnant with Ryan
- 1/24/06 – The day Ryan came into our life
- 4/27/13 – The day we switched our church sui juris to the Byzantine Ruthenians
- 6/10/15 – The day we heard those words, It is an aggressive cancer
- 8/6/15 – The first day of chemotherapy
- 2/9/16 – The day we heard those words, the cancer has recurred and spread to distant organs.
April 14, 2016 is another day to add to that list of days I’ll carry with me forever. Today was the day we met with Dr. Chalasani to discuss the path forward. As I wrote about in my previous post, things have been rough around our house with Theresa being in pain, not eating and sleeping most of the day. A couple days ago I asked Theresa what she wanted to do with regards to her treatment, but she wasn’t ready to talk about it.
This morning as we were getting ready to leave I told her we were going to her blood draw, appointment with the oncologist and potentially to have a chemotherapy infusion. I asked again what she wanted to do and I told her that I was concerned about her ability to withstand more chemotherapy, but that I would support her decision either way. She slept for most of the drive and at 9:00AM, we were back to a room to see Dr. Chalasani.
Since UMC is a teaching facility, a medical student came in to ask some questions about how Theresa was feeling, what concerns we have and any questions for the doctor. Afterwards, the doctor came in and started to talk to Theresa and she picked up quickly that something was not right; that Theresa was having cognitive issues and couldn’t process thoughts and get the words out. She asked how long that had been happening and noted that it wasn’t that way when she met with us on 4/5/16. Dr. Chalasani asked what we were hoping would happen with the treatment plan that was presented back in February when we learned of the metastatic diagnosis. Theresa couldn’t put words to her thoughts. I answered that question by saying I had hoped that treatment would halt the progression and possibly reduce the size of the tumor. I said I knew that eventually the disease would win, but I had hoped for time to get Ryan through school before it was over. I ended by saying that this was before the rapid increase in pain and physical decline of the past 3 weeks.
Dr. Chalasani said that she wanted to order a MRI of the brain to see if there were lesions that had developed. And then she asked Theresa what she wanted to do, continue chemotherapy or not. Theresa processed that question for a bit and eventually shook her head no. And then she said that she just wanted to go home. With that, she showed the mental toughness that many lack. She made the decision that was best for her well-being, both physically and spiritually. We met with a social worker who talked about hospice care and made arrangements for the hospice nurse to come visit us at home. And with that, we got in the car and drove home.
Tonight, Fr. Rankin came by to bring communion to Theresa, to pray with the family and to start preparing Theresa to move from anxiety to peace with all that was to happen. He spent some one on one time with her and said that the Father would not be ready to call her home if he hadn’t already thought about a plan for providing for Ryan and I. He ended with telling her that the Father knows she can do more for Ryan and I in the Kingdom than she can right now in her physical sickness.
Before sitting down with Theresa, Father and I spoke about the decision and he remarked about a program he had watched earlier in the day about a young Catholic couple with young kids. The wife was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on Easter but found the strength to tell her husband that they would still celebrate Easter because Jesus still rose, so we will trust. I smiled and said that I know that story well. I read it one night in a hotel room in Virginia and that I ended up staying up until 4AM reading their posts. The wife, Angela Faddis was born on my birthday and died on Theresa’s birthday in 2012. It was another reminder of what we needed to do.
For the 6 weeks of Pascha, the standard greeting in the Eastern church is “Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!” Like Angela Faddis said, “Jesus still rose, so we will trust”
Christ is Risen!
Indeed He is Risen!