2022 has begun with an unexpected journey. As we entered this year I was continuing to deal with symptoms from long-haul COVID and hospitalization last fall. Since December I have been experiencing severe back and joint pain. Shortly before Christmas a sharp pain in my side made breathing extremely hard and turned out to be a cracked rib. As this was healing I was still experiencing pain in my spine making walking, standing, sitting…any movement very difficult and painful. It would often make my O2 stats drop and I as feeling as if COVID would never leave me. I began physical therapy once again in January with no relief.
Last Tuesday, I headed to the doctor with a pain radiating through my ribs and back thinking perhaps my rib had fractured further. An ER visit, a hospital admission, bloodwork, multiple x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs revealed I had fractured my T-11 vertebrae. To put this in context, I need to rewind a few years.
In 2018 my allergist had noticed some abnormal blood test results. Further testing showed I had a pre-cancerous condition known as Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS). MGUS is an elevated M-spike in a particular blood protein in my body which stores antibodies instead of eliminating. It is a possible precursor to Multiple Myleoma which my doctors were monitoring every 4-6 months with blood work. MGUS is non-symptomatic and many people live with it and it never develops further. Last June, my levels were still low enough that there was no concern. However, my hospital stay revealed that in the last six months my levels have progressed very quickly— to stage three Multiple Myleoma cancer. The fractured vertebrae is a result of the Myleoma and I have several other tumors on my spine. The back pain, pain in movement, and deep breathing is my most pressing symptom as this point.
- Because my blood levels have been monitored regularly over the last three years, the cancer has not devastated my body.
- Excellent treatment with long term results for remission is very high.
- My oncology team is excellent and has a very aggressive plan to treat this cancer.
- The pain I’ve been experiencing is not COVID related but has a name and we have a treatment plan.
The treatment plan involves oral and injection chemotherapy which begins February 18, 2022. I will receive treatment every week for two-three months as they continue to monitor.
I will begin radiation oncology treatments to reduce the tumors on my spine and help alleviate pain.
In a few months, the plan is stem cell transplant.
My Creator God is not surprised by any of this news. He is greater than this disease. He created me, knows me intimately, and He has each of my days ordained—my heart’s desire and prayer is that each one of my days would be for His glory! In the last week I have seen the Lord go before me and walk close by me in countless ways…just as He did in my COVID battle. I have seen the goodness of the Lord in each day! (Psalm 27:13-14)
There are a whirlwind of emotions that swirl about me, often changing from one minute to the next. They often take me by surprise—from fear, sadness and uncertainty to joy and peace. It’s a wild ride! But this I know for certain: these emotions are anchored deep in my soul and spirit by my great God. They may swirl about and seem overwhelming at times, but the anchor holds deep and strong (Hebrews 6:19). I will let the emotions come. I will lean into my emotions and on my Jesus. I will talk them out and cry them out with the Lord. I will be honest with the Lord about all I am feeling and thinking because He hears, He sees, He knows and He remembers— and He is big enough to handle it all. I will ride these wild waves because they are all tethered to my Jesus who can sympathize with my weakness, who has experienced unbearable pain, and who at the cross conquered it all! (Hebrews 4:16).
I appreciate your prayers. I saw how mightily the Lord worked through the prayers of others during my COVID battle. I felt the power of that prayer! And I know the Lord will use the prayers of His people to carry me and sustain me once again in this journey.
I know the Lord has much to teach me on this journey. I want to know Him more. This journey will not be a wasted one.
One night last week, I was up late pouring out my heart and fears to the Lord. I put on the new worship album by Casting Crowns to help me fall asleep. This first song resonated deep within my heart and soul and expresses how I feel about this journey. May it bless and encourage you as well.
Rejoicing in my Jesus, Always!