Every night before we go to sleep, Brad and I read a devotional together (New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp - I would encourage you to snag it if you're in the market for a good one & yes we read it at night despite it being calling "morning mercies"). By no surprise, lately it has been overwhelmingly accurate in comforting fears, pointing us to scripture that displays God's grace and reiterating the power of prayer in a time when it's desperately needed.
Recently, while reading, this verse practically jumped off the page and hit us in the heart: "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the holy spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5)
During this journey, it would have been very easy for us to question why we might be going through something like this. Why Brad - the most joyful and lovable human - has to endure a thing like cancer, all of the pokes, pain and 'suffering' that come with it? Oddly enough, we haven't and I think it's because all along, although maybe not recognized until recently, we have trusted and believed the root of this verse. A life of comfort, absent of suffering, predictability and ease is our definition of a good life. It is our expectation. Don't get me wrong, I wish cancer would be banished from this earth forever, but I know that 'bad things' aren't by way of the Lord, but in fact He is after something so much greater. When I think about all that will come from this 'suffering' - the character, perspective, hope and ultimately an even firmer foundation and reliance on the Lord's love and grace in our lives - I see this as His way of refining us, displaying how much He truly loves us, gifting us with His grace and redemptive love.
We're taking this verse and perspective with us into the next long, challenging journey.
As you know, Brad had to go through a series of tests to capture a baseline of his 'vital organs' in advance of his stem cell transplant. If you ask Brad how it went, he'll be quick to tell you they told him he had a "superior brain." The neurologist was the one who told him this and he hasn't let me go a day since without reminding me. Overall, his testing went well and they cleared him to move forward with the transplant.
Sunday, May 31st will be the day, the day he gets admitted to the hospital. They day the journey to officially beating cancer begins.
Let me give you an idea of what this will look like:
May 31st - will be prep - fluids, pre - medications, etc. to prepare him for what is to come.
(Day -7) June 1st - Chemotherapy and full body radiation will begin. They will completely wipe out his own bone marrow to prepare him for the new stem cells. This will go on for 7 days.
(Day 0) June 8th - will be Brad's stem cell transplant birthday. This is when the transplant will actually take place. He will receive the transfusion of stem cells through his (newly placed) central line.
Then, we wait.
We will be in the hospital anywhere from 3 - 5 weeks. They have to keep an extremely close watch on his blood counts, monitor body temperature and ensure all is moving forward safely. During this time, I will be able to be in the hospital with him, however, because of Covid the visitor policy is a bit different, more restrictive than normal. When I go in with Brad on May 31st, if I leave I am not able to come back or see him until he is out of the hospital for good. So, what that means is that when we go in on May 31st I will not be leaving until he does, not even stepping foot off of the unit.
Then, as I have mentioned before, we will move to an apartment about 10 minutes from the hospital for an unknown amount of time. We are hoping to be there for about 60 days, but it could be as long as 120 days. All is dependent on how his body responds and how quickly his body accepts the new stem cells (which he's a champion so I know he will rock this).
Prayer requests: that Brad's body accepts the new stem cells, to keep any and all infection or illness away from him. That he experiences as few of the expected side effects as possible. Pray for our sanity as we are stuck inside and on a medical unit for several weeks...together...in a small room. Pray that this is a time of true, undeniable growth for our relationship. Pray for our families as I know how challenging this will be for everyone who can't physically see him.
Honestly, this is when we need you all the most, really your prayers. This will be the hardest thing we have endured thus far, but we know we can do it because we literally have an army behind us, behind Brad.
I will be sure to provide frequent updates while we are in the hospital, but until then we are going to enjoy time outside and a few days away at the beach.
As always, we love you all.