Next week marks 6 months since we received the news of Rick being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. MM is a type of blood cancer that affects the plasma cells. The plasma cells then produce abnormal proteins (M proteins) which cause tumors, damage the kidneys and impair the immune system. April 27, 2016 will be a day we never forget. Although we hope with time the pain and devastation of that first week will lighten. That we will remember how God was with us from the moment we heard the word cancer to this present day. He has never left us, even when pain took over Rick’s body and all hope was but a flickering smoldering light. We have seen first hand how the people in our lives have been the hands and feet of Jesus. There have been so many people that have prayed, encouraged and gave in many different ways. Our hearts melt into a puddle, thinking of the love that has been shown to us by so many people.
One thing that we hear a lot is, “Rick looks so good.” It’s True!!!! He has always been a very handsome and masculine man. A man that has loved and treasured me for 34 plus years. He has always been the steady standing Rock in my life. The emotional pain that we have endured since April has been most difficult for me. I see what the medications and chemo have done to him, physically and emotionally. The 4 hospital stays, 4-7 days each time, have been set backs that brought much discouragement. The mind battles of fear, worry and dread were held at bay by keeping Rick comfortable and doing the many things he was no longer able to do. That worked in the beginning when he physically needed me. As the months went on and he began to gain strength, He returned to work. Meeting with people, preaching some, and began teaching our young married Wednesday night class again. Now I had to face my fears head on…what was “normal” for me? What was my role in this stage? As I would see him come home from work exhausted but rejuvenated by gaining his “normal” back. I felt alone and scared. It seemed every time we would get into a “normal schedule” again, a blood clot would happen or pneumonia (this last time) and back to the hospital we would go. I never knew of the roller coaster experience one feels in this situation.I thrive on order, schedule, everything in its drawer, or on its shelf. No surprises…just constant, steady and normal. You can imagine some of the mindsets I had to let go of. I’m so thankful that God is patient and gentle with His people.
To the best of my understanding, Multiple Myeloma is measured by the bone marrow test and M proteins in the blood. In April Rick’s bone marrow was 50% cancerous, therefore the rating of stage 3 cancer. His M proteins were at 4.9%, both of these being very high. He had x rays, CT scans and MRI’s done to locate where the bone lesions or tumors were. Many throughout his rib cage, sternum, spine, left hip, and right shoulder. Wherever there is a lesion, it pulls the calcium and protein out of the bone causing a weak vacant hole. These will never be filled back in, except by God’s miraculous touch. Rick does receive a bone hardening medication each month that will strengthen around the holes. A lot of Rick’s pain is in his bones because of the damage the cancer has done. The beginning of this month he had another bone marrow test to see what results the chemo has done the last 4 months. His bone marrow is now at 0.34%!!!!! This is such a Praise for us 🙂 Then last week the M protein test came back, 0%!!!!! We are so grateful for this Great Report!!!! As a result of his cells being in such good shape, the Dr.’s want to collect his stem cells and store them in case they are needed later in Rick’s life. This will require a 2-4 day stay in Indy at IU Hospital. It is not a painful procedure, which I am so thankful for. I can not bear to see him go through more pain. It will require him to lay basically flat for 6 hours each day till enough stem cells are collected. We will stay in a hotel/apartment during this time so he will be treated as an outpatient. We don’t know the dates of when this will happen as Insurance and IU are working on the “terms”. The Dr.’s are hoping within the next 3 weeks. After the collection, Rick may have 1, 2 or 3 more chemo treatments. Dr. Jin is thrilled with the way Rick’s body has responded to the chemo treatments. We know this excellent response is because of the Lord’s touch in his body. How very blessed we are for His Healing.
I am convinced that the many people praying for us, have kept us all these months. Your prayers matter, they make a difference! God’s Word has been very important in my life. The Word has given me peace, hope, encouragement and direction many times throughout my life. In February I had wrote out 2 Corinthians 9:8 on a card to tape to my mirror. It has been a promise that I cling to. “And GOD is ABLE to make ALL GRACE abound to You, so that in ALL Things at ALL Times, having ALL that you Need, You Will Abound in Every Good Work.” When the temptation comes to crumble to the fears of “what if’s”, I am reminded that I have all I need in Jesus to abound in every situation. He Is Able!!!!
Forever Grateful, Shari Lambright