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.
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.
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.
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.
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.