Michael is now solidly in the middle of middle school (7th grade). He's learning about what it means to be growing up and would like to remain a child for as long as possible ... I'll be glad to help him with that! However, he is steadily growing and maturing, exhibiting more and more responsible behavior and choices. He and his team mates took their relay teams to first and second place in county finals for track and field (4x100 relay and 4x400 relay) and he is counting down the days for soccer to start up again. He is taking a water polo course this summer in order to build endurance and to try something new.
I have up and down days. The reality of cancer progression still seems unreal, yet it happened. I completed the first chemo cycle and was surprised at my level of anxiety during the "off week." (I take oral chemotherapy twice a day for two weeks and then have a one week break.) I talked to the medical team about this and they said that the next off week may not be as anxious because by then, we'd have some idea as to whether or not the chemo is accomplishing anything.
I've talked about my tumor markers before. They've been pretty reliable for me in that rising numbers generally indicate some sort of activity, but it's not always possible to determine why the numbers rise. I had a considerable amount of intestinal inflammation last month (which showed up in several tests), but when the scans showed that the cancer had moved into my liver, there was no immediate dismissal of the numbers. They are used as part of the big picture.
Falling numbers, though, are always good news. Numbers that fall close to 50% are always GREAT news! After a huge increase last month, my tumor markers have dropped significantly. We are optimistic that this trend will continue.
Yesterday, I admitted to my oncologist that I felt I relied on these numbers too much. She said it's quite natural ... numbers are completely objective. At the time I saw her, we didn't have the test results back yet (they came in today), but she reminded me to not worry too much if they had increased again. You ought to have seen me scrolling to get the number on my screen today. I was thinking (praying?), "Please, please, please be in the 50s!" (Last month, the number was 62.6.) My jaw dropped when I saw the new number was 33.3.
Normal is 3.8 ... I'm still way out of range. I still have cancer. However, as I explained it to Michael, the more that this cancer can be pushed down, the longer I should be able to live with it.
I continue to ask the question, "How then, shall I live?" It's often hard to know what the priority of a day should be. I try to make it about relationships and people, but I do have projects I'd like to complete as well.
I am in the middle of Joshua in my Bible-writing project. I continue to have lots of questions, but I'm becoming more comfortable with the questions and more comfortable with the not-knowing. Well, maybe not. I get frustrated with the not-knowing, so right now, I've told people that I want my tombstone to say, "Now I know!"
I'm also participating in another summer Bible study that will be on 1st and 2nd Thessalonians. It will probably be good for me to spend some time in the New Testament as well. Hmmm, maybe I should alternate back and forth? I'll have to think about that one.
Besides longing for understanding and learning to be content regardless of what's going on around me, I'd say I'm happiest when hanging out with Art and the kids and when hanging out with friends. Being in the sunshine is always a good bonus! I'm planning a trip to Mississippi to see my dad and I'm hoping to connect up with some old friends there as well.
I'm now off all diabetes medications and am using diet and exercise to control my glucose levels. They are pretty much only slightly elevated, so this is the logical treatment approach. I did treat myself to my first hamburger with french fries since before Thanksgiving ... and I hated them! That's out of my system now.
To sum things up, I am grateful. Still living my daily miracle and still loving it!