Thursday, February 28, 2008

Surreal... But real.

This morning as I laid completely still on a narrow table that slowly moved my radiation filled body into a circular magnetic field, I randomly broke out into a little giggle. I was getting a bone scan by this really nice man who looked strangely at me and said - "well, I don't think I've ever had anyone giggle before." The tip of my nose was just an inch from the scanning machine when I thought about how surreal the situation was. Any minute I expected Dr. House to walk into the room and say something offensive while he stared at my tumor. I pictured myself being the subject of that TV show, and I imagined Dr. Casas playing Dr. House as he and other doctors huddled in a separate room to investigate my little gremlin. For some reason that was really funny and I enjoyed a little laugh this morning.

It's surreal... but so very real. My CT scan and bone scan went well this morning. All the injections were a little uncomfortable - but i'm sure the information they got was well worth it. Dr. Casas meets with the tumor committee today and will look over all the scans this week.

So we are waiting until Wednesday (March 5) to find out the next step. Here are some specifics to be praying for:

  • Protection from fear or anxiety for me and my family.

  • Wisdom for Dr. Casas and his advisors.

  • That God will fill my heart with joy and peace - and that He will draw close to me.

  • That the tumor will not change. (Change/growth at this point would not be good)

  • That God will do a miracle and heal the tumor!

  • PRAY for benign - (pray for this 3 times.... in a row)

  • For opportunity to share Jesus' name and that God would be gloried!

Love you all! Please continue to pray!

"Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth bore it's fruit." James 5:13-18

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Little Gremlin" updates...

Today was my appointment with Dr. Casas, an Orthopedic Surgeon specializing in muscular tumors. Dr. Casas, a Harvard grad, is a very popular surgeon and dang good at what he does. It is a blessing to have him helping me! He was very informative today so get ready for me to unload…

The first thing Dr. C said when he walked in was “Dr. Anderson called me first thing this morning and he never calls anyone. He explained to me your situation” - (Dr. Anderson is the last surgeon that I visited). A little strange for an opening line, but I soon found out what has all the doctors talking. Apparently I have an extremely rare form of tumor.

Dr. Casas looked over all the MRIs with me. His impression is that it might be an intramuscular myxoma which is an uncommon benign tumor that slowly grows in the muscle. It is a mystery as to what causes these tumors to appear. They are typically painful as they push aside the muscle to grow. This type of tumor can get up to 10cm, but mine is still pretty small. The common age for this tumor is 65 y/o. Because I’m young, healthy, and not in pain – all symptoms do not necessary point to myxoma.

There is still a possibility that it could be soft tissue sarcoma. Sarcoma is a very aggressive form of cancer that is rare and very unpredictable in its behavioral patterns. Dr. Casas explained that most doctors run when there is a possibility of sarcoma because you have to be very careful in removing and treating it – that’s why I was talking to him today (he is super good!). Dr. C has ordered that a bone scan and CT scan be done so that he can further evaluate the behavior of the tumor and understand what it is and how to treat it.

Because “Little Gremlin” is so rare – tomorrow Dr. Casas is taking my case to the weekly tumor council to have 15 other surgeons look at my MRIs and try to figure out what it could be. This is really good because I will be getting 15 second opinions and if Dr. C missed anything, hopefully someone else will discover it!

I have 4 hours of testing tomorrow (Feb. 28th). Dr. Casas is going to look over all the images and he and I will meet again in 1 week (Wednesday, March 5th) to go over his diagnosis.

I asked Dr. C why we couldn’t just do a biopsy and look at what’s inside. He explained that if it is sarcoma and they go in with a needle and cells escape into my muscle – the cancer would become very aggressive and spread very rapidly. So we will be skipping the biopsy and going straight to surgery.

They will not know 100% if the tumor is cancerous until they completely remove it. No matter what the tests show the tumor will be removed in basically the same way, which is, it will be cut out by removing all the surrounding muscle and fat. In the slight chance that it is cancerous, the tumor will not be touched until it is completely removed. If the scans show that it is malignant, they will do radiation on the tumor before surgery (this makes the surgery easier) and then remove the tumor. If it is benign – I'll be in physical therapy after surgery. If it is malignant I’m sure that there will be more radiation and treatments.

After all this information was delivered and Dr. Casas left the room, the nurse said to me “You sure are calm and looking pretty cheerful.” I got to tell her that I have a God that is bigger than tumors and that I’m completely taken care of – Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Little Princess" update...

Little Princess is her name, my tumor that is. I gave her a nice name in hopes that she will be nice to me. Here's the latest on the medical updates:

The general surgeon who was reviewing my MRI report has now referred me to another doctor who deals more with muscle tumors. He said that it doesn't look like a typical muscle tumor; however, it looks benign (no irregular shapes). Tomorrow (Weds.) I go to the orthopedic surgeon at 1:30pm. Next step is probably a biopsy followed by surgery. Benign or not - this thing is coming out of my leg for sure!

God has already been glorified through this. A friend of mine at work told me that she is going to pray for me, which just filled my heart with joy that she is turning toward the Father. Amen that this turns people's hearts toward our Creator and Healer! He delights in hearing the voice of His children!

Please continue to cry out to Him on my behalf.

Monday, February 25, 2008

PURE Joy...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

What a deep verse. How many people really know how to apply this verse to life? Pure joy? When I think of pure joy I think of great nights with friends, being in love, or laughter from little girls. But God talks about joy from trials.

I recently found out that I have a soft tissue tumor in the muscle of my left thigh. I went in for allergies a week ago and a few referrals later and I’m waiting for answers to this mysterious little lump on my leg. I’m currently waiting to hear back from the surgeon who will either do a biopsy himself or refer me to a specialist in muscular tumors.

To get clinical – my MRI report states that I have a well-developed lesion which is about 1” long with a ½” diameter. In candy measurements, it’s the size of a snack size Snickers bar. I am currently pondering names for this little tumor, maybe “Princess.” If it is in fact my unborn twin which I absorbed in the womb, it could be named “May.” ((OK, I’m stretching it)) You have to laugh a little, right? Here's a little MRI image for ya'... [this is a section of my leg]So tumor doesn’t necessarily mean Cancer, but that’s not to say that the doctors haven’t skirted around that subject already. In his report, the MRI doctor suggested it could be soft tissue sarcoma which is a form of cancer that develops in muscles or tendons. Who really knows though?...

God does. This caught me by surprise but the God of the universe knows exactly what is happening. While the word ‘tumor’ has replayed itself a million times in my head, God has placed rest in my heart. He is my healer. The Gospel tells us that people would follow Jesus to desolate places just to seek His healing and through their faith they were healed. People were healed just by touching the fringes of His clothes. Faith brings about healing.

A thought that blazed through my mind the other day was, “I’m only 22 – this isn’t fair.” My response to myself was “What? Seriously, April.” Let’s talk about what’s not fair. It’s not fair to me that so many people I love cannot see the face of Jesus. Why do I, a sinner, get to see the face of Love when others are blind to it? That’s not fair. A tumor? – it becomes weightless in the sight of eternity.

As I embraced an eternal perspective on this situation, I found myself getting strangely exciting about the possibilities of cancer. Cancer would cause people to turn to Jesus and pray. I thought of how I could have conversations about the Lord with the nurse that attended me. I imagined my co-worker’s bewilderment as they saw me find total confidence and strength in the Lord, even in the worse of situations. I saw the Lord Glorified through my trials and it made me smile. I saw myself being used by the Lord and it brought about pure joy. Through perseverance I will see Jesus more fully and I long for that much more than I care for my health.

Now – don’t get me wrong. WE (yes, you and me) are praying against this evil. His healing will cause worship (especially in my heart) so we will knock and knock and knock until the Lord answers us. And believe Him when He says He will answer. [Luke 11:9-13]

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

To Start All Over Again...

I usually don't look to The Message for a translation of my favorite Bible passages, but as I read this tranlation of Hosea 2:14-20, I knew that these are the Words of the Lord to my heart.

Hosea 2:14-20 (The Message)

14-15 "And now, here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to start all over again. I'm taking her back out into the wilderness where we had our first date, and I'll court her. I'll give her bouquets of roses. I'll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope. She'll respond like she did as a young girl, those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.
16-20 "At that time"—this is God's Message still— "you'll address me, 'Dear husband! 'Never again will you address me, 'My slave-master!' I'll wash your mouth out with soap, get rid of all the dirty false-god names, not so much as a whisper of those names again. At the same time I'll make a peace treaty between you and wild animals and birds and reptiles, And get rid of all weapons of war. Think of it! Safe from beasts and bullies! And then I'll marry you for good—forever! I'll marry you true and proper, in love and tenderness. Yes, I'll marry you and neither leave you nor let you go. You'll know me, God, for who I really am.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

You're Beautiful

song by: Phil Wickham

I've been playing this song over-and-over for the past month. The lyrics are worshipful! Enjoy:

I see Your face in every sunrise,
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day,
I look up to the sky and say
You're beautiful.

I see Your power in the moonlit night,
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars,
It's all proclaiming who You are ...
You're beautiful, You're beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree,
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne,
Soon we will be coming home...
You're beautiful, you're beautiful

When we arrive at eternity's shore,
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We'll enter in as the wedding bells ring,

Your bride will come together and we'll sing
You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful

I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful
I see Your face, You're beautiful, You're beautiful, You're beautiful