It's only been a few days since our last post, but it feels like a lot has happened.
Saturday evening was amazing. About 70 people gathered at our house to lift up Julie in prayer. It was a mix of family, old friends, new friends, church friends, and of course, Julie's tennis friends. They came from as far as Indianapolis, Dayton and Northern Kentucky. The love and support was such an encouragement--there are no words, thank you seems cheap, but there it is. We told everyone our approach to battling this cancer was the same as Jehoshaphat's battle plan in 2 Chronicles 20. The following is our battle bullet points, taken from The Message.
- a huge force is on its way...to fight you.
- Shaken, Jehoshaphat prayed:
- "O God...You hold all power and might in your fist--no one stands a chance against you!...We take our place before [YOU] ...and pour out our pain and trouble...We know that you will listen and give victory....We're helpless before this vandal horde ready to attack us. We don't know what to do, we're looking to you."
- Jaheziel was moved by the Spirit of God to speak from the midst of the congregation:
- "Attention everyone...Don't be afraid; don't pay any mind to this vandal horde. This is God's war, not yours...You won't have to lift a hand in this battle, just stand firm...and watch God's saving work for you take shape. Don't be afraid, don't waver. March out boldly...--God is with you."
- Then Jehoshaphat knelt down...worshiping God.
- Then Jehoshaphat stood up and said...believe firmly in God...and you'll come out on top.
- Then Jehoshaphat appointed a choir for God...they were to march ahead of the troops, singing, Give Thanks to God, His love never quits.
- As soon as they started shouting and praising, God set ambushes against the [vandal horde] and they all ended up dead....The [vandal horde] mistakenly attacked [one another]...and all ended up dead."
So Saturday night, we began this battle, marched out (metaphorically speaking. The house was a little full to actually stand up and march, without kneeing each other in the butts, which would have probably been some good physical comedy, but we didn't think of it in time) in faith, singing praises to God first and in front, and following that up with loads of prayers for Julie, and now we are eagerly expecting God to fight the battle for us and get a really cool victory, with all the glory going to Him. It was a great night. Thank you to all who are joining us in prayer, whether in person or from afar. We're feeling the love and are truly blessed.
Monday, we met with our breast surgeon, Dr. Donna Stahl. From all accounts she is the best in Cincinnati and she's been great. She seems to be able to put up with our senses of humor, which is a definite bonus. At times she reminds us of the secretary in The Office, with the way she can dead pan response us in a way that amps up the humor. Which we like very much.
She spent over an hour with us going over the biopsy results in detail and explaining her recommendations. The cancer is an invasive ductile carcinoma (grade 3, which is the most aggressive and fast growing). The lumps she took out were in a clump and measured at 2.3 centimeters. This cancer is ER and PR negative, but HER2 amplified, 6.2 if you're into numbers, (translation: this type of cancer can't be treated with hormonal therapy like tamoxifen, but it can be treated with immunotherapy like herceptin). During the lumpectomy on Tuesday, Dr. Stahl said that she wasn't happy with the margins on the lump we could feel, since it was attached to the surface, so we definitely have to go back and take the rest of that. She strongly recommended a mastectomy and to take out 4 or 5 lymph nodes, followed by chemotherapy, as in, not optional. (Reconstruction is not on the table at this point either, until we get through chemo.) The lymph nodes will be tested to see if the cancer has spread there. Then we'll know the stage of the cancer. We are praying very desperately that the lymph node report will come back clear and that we will have gotten on top of this. We will not have that pathology report until Tuesday, unfortunately, due to the holiday weekend.
We have decided to go with a double mastectomy. It's scheduled for this Friday at Jewish Hospital at 1pm (we have be there at 11am). On the one hand this wasn't an easy decision - it's so drastic and quick and scary. On the other hand it was a no-brainer. The doctor agrees this is the best chance to stop the cancer in it's path and save Julie's life. It's aggressive cancer and we need to be more aggressive and get ahead of it and stay on top.
Unfortunately, all this means we've had to cancel our 20th Anniversary celebration in the Cayman Islands. We were scheduled to be there this Saturday for a week in a nice little beach-front villa. They didn't have to, but the kind people we rented from are giving us a refund. So hopefully we can reschedule later. There's a hurricane heading that way anyway, so thank God for this change of plans, too.
All for now. Please continue to pray with us as we continue to march forward praising God. Sure, the optimist can say the cup is half full when it IS half full, but when both "cups" are empty it takes faith to still know that our cup overfloweth. So we continue to trust the One who is pouring.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases."
PS - Julie's tennis friends have started Team Evanshire to represent Julie in the Cincinnati Race for the Cure. The event is Sept 14 mainstreamed in Mason, Ohio, but going on all throughout the country, and all proceeds go to fund breast cancer research. The five of us have signed up. Don't know if Julie will be well enough by then. Maybe she'll let me push her in a wheel chair and at the end she can stand and walk across the finish line.