Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On Empty Cups, Optimism, and Faith

Dave and Julie this time. See if you can tell who wrote what parts.

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."
This is our battle plan.

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."

The Evans

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.


Carol said...

You all have been married so too long that you are both sounding like one. Isn't that something I heard in the vows??

Prayers your way every time I think of you which lately has been often. I think I've prayed more in the last couple of week then I've prayed for a very long time.

Love you

Unknown said...

Our prayers are with you daily, even when we can not be with you know that God hears our prayers and we will ask him daily to heal and protect you and your family.


debbie p said...

Okay, I think Dave started out and Julie finished. You will have to let me know if I am right. Julie, that thing you wrote about the cup overflowing is so beautiful. I was at the nursing home tonight and just couldn't stop thinking about it. You are amazing! I want to be like you when I grow up! Debbie P

Angela said...

Hi Dave and Julie,
It sounds like you a have great support team (more like an army really!) and I'm hopeful that your surgery will go well and you'll recover quickly. Just wanted to let you know (not that your doctor might not have already mentioned this - she sounds like a great doctor) but you mentioned waiting until Tuesday to get your pathology report which is true for a Friday surgery. But I wondered if they are going to do a frozen section during the surgery, which is basically having a pathologist look at tissue while you're still on the operating table, and the pathologist performs a "frozen section diagnosis" which can tell the Doctors a quick diagnosis on just a small amount of tissue given for the FS, not the entire specimen of course. Usually in a mastectomy, they will take sentinel lymph node tissue and do a frozen section because the sentinel nodes tell you more about invasion. I work for a pathology office and like I said, I'm sure your doctor has probably already given you every possible scenario, but I just wanted you to know about that option.
My thoughts and prayers are with you every day.
Angela Hockett

Rachel said...


It was so great to talk to you tonight. I had to hold back the tears when you said, "It's Julie". I also think that Dave started and you finished it up. I have to know. I'm also only a "wee bit competitive". Anyway, we're praying, praying, praying. I love you so much.


Anonymous said...

OK, I wrote it originally and Julie came back and breathed life into it. She added the verses from The Message, the part about kneeing butts (she's cracks me up! - no pun intended), and the part about the doctor, etc. She put the title on it and asked me to write a paragraph at the end to tie it in. When I saw the title I thought "Julie, you're so clever!", but originally only thought of the cup being half full vs. empty. Later I had to revise that part when I realized she was alluding to empty bra cups - wow, she's amazing!

Anonymous said...

All your friends at Xetron are pulling for you! We're praying for a quick and comfortable recovery.

Anonymous said...

Chris said it was great to talk with Dave last night--I was on the phone in spirit (physically putting kids to bed and wishing I was on the phone!) Just wanted to let you know we are all praying for you, and look forward to seeing how God will work. I think of you often and miss running around the corner for coffee. Fight hard, friend!

Anonymous said...

Julie & Dave:
A little story for you: In the early 1980's I worked in a lab in the Hematology/Oncology department of Internal Medicine at UC College of Medicine. My mom needed to see a breast doctor and I asked the hem/onc docs who was the best. They said Dr Donna Stahl. So my mom got in to see her and still sees her today for checkups. Anyway, it has been years since Dr Stahl has taken new patients. I have a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer about 5 years ago, who could not get in with Dr Stahl. She ended up with one of her colleagues in the same office. This little story is to say that I believe you have favor; the Lord has opened this door to this particular doctor for you. I hope that is some encouragement for you.
You are in our minds and hearts.
Toni Kraft

Pegg & Jon said...

Julie, David & Family,
Just wanted you to know that we are praying for you. We pray that you all have that wonderful peace that God gives that surpasses all
our understanding. The peace that
lets us rest as we trust in an awesome father who loves us so much ! We serve a most high God that brings us to tests in our lives and in our weakness , HIS power is made perfect and to
God be the glory in all of this.
I am so thankful that you all are
praising our wonderful heavenly father. We love you.
Pegg & Jon