How did we get here?!

When Tony was first told he had a sarcoma 3 1/2 years ago, we met with the top oncologist for sarcomas in Indianapolis and followed his recommendations. It seems very schematic, and we could rest knowing we were receiving the best care we could get. There were moments of sheer amazement, when a new drug would work and miraculously remove his pain or when his resection surgery resulted in better than expected outcomes. We felt sheer relief in October when we were told the cancer was gone, and the margins were so good, Tony wouldn’t even need to do any follow-up chemo. We had twins. We celebrated. In November, a group of Tony’s friends surprised him with an evening of brisket, bourbon and bonfires to celebrate Tony and his new cancer-free status. We felt extremely blessed. We had walked through 3 long years of treatments, sick days and doctor’s appointments, but we were a story of survival, and we were stronger for it.

Celebrating with some of his closest friends.

In December, when Tony & I learned that the cancer had returned with a vengeance, it seemed unreal. Surely there would be a treatment that we would follow to a cure. We had done this before. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, but we were ready to take it on. Then started a tailspin of questions: Who should we seek to provide our care? Should we look at drug trials in other cities? If traditional western medicine isn’t giving us any hope of a working treatment plan, should we try alternative therapies? What procedures need to happen in the meantime? We had no idea how quickly these decisions needed to be made, and spent the first few weeks talking about options and enjoying precious times with family at Christmas. We were told Tony may have as few as 100 days left, but that was the worst case scenario, so surely we would have longer than that, because Tony’s a fighter and it seemed crazy for the outcome to be that short.

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Carolers showed up at our door at Christmas time.

The month of January seems a blur. I know somewhere in there he had a painful pleurodesis and hospitalization. We went to Chicago with Caroline and friends. We made the decision to seek alternative cancer treatments. By the end of the month we were refreshed and hopeful. However, the rollercoaster took another turn and Tony discovered DVTs in his legs which turned into another long hospitalization in February. A repeat CT scan revealed progressive tumor growth. This cancer is aggressive. Tony miraculously came home, but was on oxygen now and weaker. We rallied, believing the Lord is up to something, pushing through anxiety, continuing alternative treatments in Carmel and enjoying every moment at home with our kids and close friends.

Swimming in the hotel pool in Chicago

Swimming in the hotel pool in Chicago

And then, the disease reared its ugly head once more. Tony’s tumors are primarily in his lungs, meaning his biggest issues are with breathing, and can change so quickly. This past weekend, he went from walking around the house on 3 liters of oxygen, to feeling unable to catch his breath on 10 liters of oxygen. The hard conversations we’ve had for the past 2 months came to a head yesterday, when we decided to call hospice and start morphine. Our intentions had first been to just have a more long acting control of Tony’s breathing, however he also had difficulty swallowing and no desire to eat, and so that quickly turned into a morphine infusion and a constant flow of people by the house to pray and say good-byes.

A couple of our biggest fans.

A couple of our biggest fans.

How did we get here?! It has been only 75 days since Dr. Rushing told us 100 days was our worst-case prognosis. I feel cheated in every regard. We haven’t had enough time to grasp what is happening. We haven’t had time to take a final family vacation. His health deteriorated so quickly.

Today Tony is laying in the hospital bed we’ve put in our sunroom, with his breathing steadied by a constant flow of morphine. He has moments where he is able to talk with us, and in between he gets good stretches of rest. He is eating and drinking very little. We feel that the end is near, however there is always hope. Some of us continue to pray for a miracle–healing that comes only from the mighty hand of the Father. We know we may look foolish to still believe at this point. Though I’ve never been afraid to look foolish.

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19 thoughts on “How did we get here?!

  1. Words are he’d for me to express my feelings. I admire your strength and your faith! May God bless you and your family! I believe in miracles and will pray for that.

  2. My prayers are with your family, as I know God works in wonderful miracles. As I read your story I could not help but think they were my own words. My dad was diagnosed with sarcoma, told it would be a “maintenance plan” (similar to treating diabetes) and would proceed with resection surgery and chemo. Drug trial at IU, Louisville, and Detroit….none of them successful. Dr. Rushing, very hopeful, and a Godly man himself, had faith we would make it through. He worked with my dad throughout his entire cancer experience. After 4 surgeries, successful cancer free moments, and chemo we were sure he would fight on and win. I leave you with the hope of miracles, and knowing that the only person in charge is God. I was so struck by your story and the parallels we shared. Praying for your family.

  3. My heart is breaking for u guys. U all have such strength and faith. I wish with all my heart that Joe and I were closer but our situation keeps us here. Know that all of u are in our prayers. I am just so sorry that I didn’t get to meet you but have heard how wonderful and strong that you are. Love and prayers. Joe and Paula

  4. I just came across your story on FB. My husband had chondrosarcoma 9 years ago, Dr Rushing was our oncologist. I am praying for you. Standing with you believing for a miracle. Love in Christ & continued prayers

  5. Praying for you all. I don’t know you personally but we have a few mutual friends and I’ve been praying for you these last 3 years and won’t stop praying… praying in faith for God’s abundant grace over you all and for healing yet this side of heaven. ❤

  6. I’m so sorry for all that you are going through. I recently went through a similar experience with my father last March. He had a different form of cancer, a glioma, that affected his brain. Unfortunately, he ended up passing away from the cancer much much sooner than we expected as it was extremely aggressive. So many of the points in your own story struck a chord with me. It is so hard to watch a loved one that you have known to always be strong go through something so difficult and see the changes that cancer can have on their body. Many people do not understand how tough it can be to go through that process. Just know that you are not alone and if you ever need someone to talk to that has been through a similar experience, feel free to reach out. Take the time you have left with each other to continue to share your love and know that God has a plan for everyone. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  7. Dearest Meredith, Trust in our love and prayers as you live in the love that drew you together … In the love of God … And in the love that sustains you. May God’s love and care be palpable to you all.

  8. Standing/praying/believing with you all.
    The Lord shall guide Tony & Meredith ALWAYS- He will sustain you in a sun-scorched land. He WILL strengthen Tony’s frame. The Haydens will be like a well-watered garden, a spring whose waters NEVER FAIL! 💕

  9. My heart breaks for you all, and thanks to Maureen Rehmer, I’ve been able to follow some of this sad story and pray daily for recovery, even a miracle. 21 years ago my husband was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, just about the time our youngest child turned two months old. The joys and sorrow of life, the loving support from family, friends, neighbors (Tony’s family among them), the wonderful care at the IU Med Center– all of these memories have brought me in spirit to your family. Our family was lucky. I wish you and your family continued strength and acceptance of the support your friends and neighbors offer.

  10. You have been in my prayers since Jacque Hinshaw, Noel’s mother told us your story. I know the heartache you are going through as I watched my daddy who was my hero dwindle down to skin and bones from esphogus cancer. We prayed for God’s healing up to the end. God performs miracles everyday. Never feel foolish! We are beside you praying for a miracle! Dee and Glenn

  11. I don’t know you or your family, but my heart is breaking for you and your family. In 1981, after a 5 month battle with sarcoma undifferentiated, my dad lost his earthly battle and received his Heavenly healing at the age of 36.

    May Jesus hold you tight and give you a peace that passes all understanding. My mom told me that they spent the last few hours of my dad’s life praying together. Know that people are standing with you in prayer for his earthly healing, and if that is not God’s will, his Heavenly healing.

    “Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Psalm 116:2

    Picture that! The God who created the Heavens and the earth; the God who created you and me; the God who heals; the God who shows love and mercy; the God who is a good, good father; the God who sent His only Son to die for us; the God who is preparing a home for us; the God who is, and was, and is to come; the God who sits on high, BENDS DOWN to listen! So I will pray, as long as I have breath!

    .

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