Fighting Fear & Worry
From Matthew: It has been about 10 days since our last blog entry. A lot has happened since then. There is a lot we are thankful for. We remain so grateful for all those that have reached out to us to bless us in so many ways, with meals, toys for Esther, financial gifts and more, but nothing is more appreciated that the prayers that we can see are already making a huge impact in Esther's life. We have gotten connected to a Christian family much like ours who have a little girl about Esther's age who has the same kind of cancer and is just about a week ahead in her treatment. Hearing how their little girl is doing and seeing the similarity of their treatment regimens has been very helpful, we are grateful for that contact. We are VERY thankful that all the test results have shown that Esther's cancer has NOT spread, but has remained localized to the area of her left eye socket where the surgeon removed her tumor.
Despite that wonderful news the protocol for treating Esther's cancer requires 24 weeks of chemotherapy infusions with at least 2 weeks of radiation therapy. She had her first chemotherapy infusion this past Wednesday (4 days ago). It was an all day affair, about 8 hours. Her first day of chemo was actually one year to the day after I had finished my last chemo treatment. That's a just little hard to wrap my head around... She has done really well, very little nausea, but has been markedly tired, taking long naps during the day. It has been hard to watch our little ball of energy become pretty deflated. On Saturday's it is part of our family routine for me to load up all the girls, take the trash off, stop by the gas station for a soda and a snack, and do any other needed errands. They all look forward to that every week, none more than Esther. Today when we left, for the first time ever, she didn't want to go. She was too tired. That made me sad. However, besides her feeling tired (which was expected) she is doing very well. The next two weeks of treatment are not as intense and I feel sure she will continue to bounce back well. She is a strong little girl.
One thing that has been particularly difficult for me is that, until now, aside from the crooked eye (that is now back straight again), Esther has not at all looked sick. Having been through chemotherapy myself, I had a pretty good idea of how it was going to make her feel. It was very hard to agree to inflict this treatment on her when she honestly looked (and acted) perfectly fine!!! On top of all that, after her chemo day, we were sent home from the hospital with her port still accessed and a bag of fluids pumping for the next 24 hours. We then had to not only take out the big needle that was inserted into her port, but we also had to give her another shot at home! I'm very grateful that Cherish has two sisters that are nurses who were willing to come and help us!! What made it worse is that Esther has been very fearful and has panicked with each new experience. It's hard enough agreeing to let the doctor give her treatment that is going to make her feel sick, it's even more difficult to have to give her what the doctor says she needs, but then have her fight us because she is afraid. The scripture in Isaiah 53:10 came to mind this past week where it says "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him" which speaks of Father God being pleased to send Jesus, the Son of God, to pay the price for our sin & sickness. I can't say that I am "pleased" to put Esther through this but we have chosen to do it, believing it is for her good. It's challenging to explain that to a 6 year old. All she knows that is there are things happening to her that she doesn't like and don't feel good. I'm so grateful that Father God was pleased to cause Christ to take our place on the cross. It's one thing to put your child through something for what you believe is their own good, quite something different to bruise them for someone else's good. That is what God did for us. He loves us that much.
As I have watched Esther struggle so much with every new experience I have thought a lot about how fear and worry is mostly over things that we just imagine might happen and even real situations are made much worse because of the anxiety we feel. Three times in Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus instructs us "do not worry." The 3rd time in verse 34 He says "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." I may not be kicking and screaming on the outside over this whole situation, but I definitely feel that way on the inside. Allowing fear & worry to control us causes us to miss the moments of hope and joy along the way. We can become so overwhelmed by the darkness of the situation & how we feel about it that we totally miss the goodness of God in the midst of the pain. I'm continuing to ask the Lord for the ability to live a day at a time and not live today worried about tomorrow. We did have some good moments this week, last night especially we had a lot of laughter while playing a game of cards, and today Evie, Eliana, Emilie and I spent some time together in town, going to my girls favorite store, The Goodwill, and feeling a little more "normal."
For this week's blog Evie and I wrote independent from each other, we didn't see what each other wrote before we had written our parts. What she wrote is inspiring to me. Here she is...
From Evie: God is good. No matter what situation or predicament you find yourself in. He is good. Yes life is bad, but not matter what happens remember that God is good. How do you remember this? Focus not on the bad aspects of the day, the week, the month, or even the year. Focus on the good. Like a sunny day, friends, and family that love you, random acts of kindness, and if nothing else, that you woke up breathing in a soft, warm, bed this morning! People get sick, friends let you down, you lose your job, loved ones die, but God never once has left you. If you just look you can see where He put His hand on your life. Maybe it was something big like a promotion or a free trip to Hawaii, or maybe it was finding a hundred dollars that helped you pay a bill, or someone paying for your meal in the drive through line! This week the place I saw God was Friday night when we were trying to learn a new game. Emilie & Esther were "styling" Daddy's hair while Mommy read the instructions and Elie and I goofed off. It felt so natural and silly that for just a little bit I forgot about everything that has happened in the past two years and just laughed. And we did laugh. We laughed until our stomachs hurt and we couldn't breathe. It was just so refreshing. I've been worrying so much recently that I feel that I never truly laugh anymore. It's like when someone sends you something funny and you type "lol" when you didn't really laugh. That's how these past few weeks have been for me, but Friday I got away from it all and just spent time playing a game with my family.
From Matthew: I have leaned a lot on the Psalms over the last three weeks. Psalm 56:3 says "whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You." He didn't say "if," he said "when." David knew a lot about fear, running from his life from King Saul, hiding in caves in the middle of the wilderness, wondering if God's purpose for his life would ever be fulfilled. Fear & worry are not always bad, but when we let them control our mind, will, and emotions they become our greatest enemy. As we walk through this new cancer journey with Esther I am finding an even greater need for my trust in God to be strengthened. I am afraid, but with God's strength I will not let fear overcome me. Another great Psalm says "When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I" Ps. 61:2. Again, he didn't say "if," he said "when." In two weeks I have my next CT scan and additional tests a year out from my last cancer treatment. I don't have time to worry about that. I am learning that fear, worry, & feeling overwhelmed are part of life's journey. It's what we do when they happen to our life that matters. I've had a lot of medical bracelets over the past year or so, and Esther has a lot more to come. Today a good friend gave me a different bracelet with the words "do not fear I am with you - Isaiah 41:10". Knowing that He who loves us so much that He willingly took the punishment for our sin upon Himself is WITH us gives us the strength that we need to trust in Him, even when our heart is overwhelmed. God is good... all the time.
From Evie: If God wasn't good we wouldn't get those glorious moments of laughter and rest. Our whole life we'd just be running and running with no time to just sit and spend time with family and friends. If God wasn't good no one would be good because God is the One who created right and wrong. God has always and will always be with you. Sometimes He will be beside, sometimes in front, and sometimes behind, but He never leaves. Don't let the world convince you otherwise!!
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this and be on this journey with us. We love you.
I love the blogs. The rawness and the reality. It’s true there are so many struggles that we are not kept from but there is a promise he walks through it with us. We love you all so much. You won’t walk alone. God is good.
Love you guys…we are praying for you all. This blog is wonderful…thanks for the insight and the example you and your family are to us all.
You and your family, especially Esther are in my prayers. I know what a loving family you have and facing this unknown future treatment for Esther is difficult. May God surround you with His love and give you the grace you need in the days ahead.Please keep us informed so we can continue to pray for all of you!
Prayer and love from my family to yours, I have been paying earnestly for her healing, and your story has touched my life! I to am a testicular CA survivor and although I haven’t been through anything like you and your sweet daughter are going through, my heart aches for you! God has this and in Jesus name we pray for your healing!