"The chemo stopped working," Ryan told me over the phone a month ago. "I'm not getting any treatment today, so I am going straight over to work."
The words "no standard chemo options left" and "possible experimental treatments" peppered the conversation. I had a hard time recovering from our conversation.
My heart and mind instantly hurt. I wanted to share the news with my Mom. I wanted her to make it better.
But that was no longer an option, either.
So what's a girl to do when her husband is out of standard treatment options and her Mom can't comfort her?
I began to pray like I've never prayed before. I started asking others to pray for me, in a much different way, too.
I just want peace.
That night, after getting snuggled in bed and discussing other things the doctor told Ryan at his appointment, we looked at each other and knew everything would be okay.
We would be okay.
What does that mean specifically?
I honestly don't have an answer for that.
But in the days following this terrible news, we have had some silver linings to the grey clouds of dwindling treatment options:
1) The insurance company initially denied paying for the experimental immunotherapy treatment Keytruda, but the very next day after we received the denial letter, we received a call from City of Hope stating that our insurance company told them that they had changed their minds and were allowing Ryan to receive a small number of treatments and paying for it. These treatments cost close to $7,000/a month! Praise God for that!
2) Ryan continues to work full time and can do more because his treatments are only every third week for a half hour infusion. The simple fact of Ryan getting weeks off between having to go to the hospital is a mood lifter in and of itself. Ryan continues to have side effects that won't let up but at least he doesn't have the added burden of driving to City of Hope most weeks of the month anymore.
3) Ryan may have the option of doing clinical trials for chemotherapy or other experimental drugs that have worked in other types of cancer, much in the same way the Keytruda works for melanoma and lung cancer patients. We have spoken to another Cancer treatment hospital and it's possible that Ryan could receive clinical trial options there, as well, if the Keytruda doesn't help.
4) We both have peace. Recently, there have been some extremely difficult and sad circumstances happening in the lives of both of our extended family members and friends. Frankly, I feel like I'd like to give my two week's notice to the tragedy department that God oversees. But God's not done with me. And it's during trials that each of us are refined, gaining patience, maturity, character, wisdom and hope (see James 1). These trials aren't easy to endure but the character traits they build are priceless. Both Ryan and I just wish there was another way to grow up.
5) We continue to live our lives with purpose. We make daily decisions to spend our time doing meaningful activities with the ones we love because we know time on this earth is very, very short. We have realized that we cannot always say yes.
We don't know the future, but we have heard it preached a million times - we know the One who holds it and we take comfort in knowing Him.
We both have a surprising amount of peace amidst our trial. And that only comes through trusting God with all of it.