Just gotta start this update with Psalm 30:11 from the New Living Translation: “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.”
There…just had to say that before we got started. I think you’ll see why.
Though we wrote last Wednesday about approaching Traci’s fourth chemotherapy treatment with a little fear and dread, her weekend was not so dark at all. Slowly, we are learning how she will respond after treatments. She is doing an exceptional job of resting in advance, exploring some very interesting (and apparently effective) alternative treatment forms to lessen her discomfort and keeping a faith, peace and courage quotient that is amazing to behold.
She blessed me to make a quick and needed run to Austin and Dallas this past weekend so I actually left her and the kids on Saturday morning and returned on Monday morning. My dear, amazing, servant hearted, ready to bless and encourage in laws came and spent pretty much from Wednesday to Monday with us which was just tremendous. Fifteen and one half years of marriage and I still don’t know any in law jokes. Those of you reading this that know Tim and Sheila Dunn are nodding in agreement right now. If you are not then shame on you because you should be!
Today was another one of those hard to take but necessary to make steps along our journey. As I said last week we decided with our oncologist’s blessing to begin speaking with radiation oncologists about Traci’s likelihood to have to receive radiation treatment once chemo is finished.
Before updating you on that I need to again confess just how clueless and ill/uninformed I have been about cancer treatment in the past. While I am learning a lot about latissimus dorsi flap reconstructive processes, chemotherapy and a host of oddly named drugs with even stranger possible side effects, I learned only today that if Traci needs radiation treatments then they will be daily (that’s Monday to Friday at least) for six and one half weeks. Wow! How many times I have read of people going through radiation and wrongly assumed it was probably just a minor inconvenience in life. Knowledge is power and I truly feel I have the power now to respond in more beneficial ways to those in the future who have to endure such regular, time consuming appointments on a daily basis for more than a month and a half.
The way we met one of our new favorite voices of wisdom and direction, Dr. Mylin Torres, at Emory University, is a God thing indeed. Malik Smith is normally the first life giving voice and kind face we see each day that does not live in our home. Actually, on some days, he is the first kind face we see including those who live in our home but I digress. Malik works at Glory Gym in Monroe (along with another life giving face/voice/friend named Genevieve) and opens up every morning at 5.30 a.m. On good days I am there in the parking lot to greet him when he pulls up. You know me…to be early is to be on time and to be on time is to be late. After I work out Traci comes and works out as well. Malik learned of Traci’s illness back in August and kindly suggested his girlfriend at the time as a possible source to connect with. We did that via email early on but decided to go with a treatment plan that took us to Northside Hospital instead. Malik has prayed with and for us and has always been a wonderful cheerleader for us both. Calling Malik a cheerleader kinda makes me laugh. Think of a 6 foot 3 inch LeBron James kinda built guy and you see why cheerleader is probably not an altogether appropriate description. Once we knew it was time to pursue radiation options we knew we wanted to meet Dr. Torres (who as of Thanksgiving is now officially engaged to Malik!) at Emory. We did that today.
While Dr. Torres could not definitely say Traci will not need radiation therapy after chemo, she did say her gut hunch right now is that she will not. We have learned to hear such words only as hunches though as the same thing was once said about chemotherapy. She was right to say she will not know for a while still. With chemo treatments going on for Traci until mid-January, Dr. Torres has plenty time to vet her case fully. She will present her case to a cancer board they have at Emory as well as keep her ears open next week at an international breast cancer symposium in San Antonio, TX. So we believe that whatever answer Dr. Torres arrives at as to whether radiation will or will not be necessary will be a very well informed decision for sure.
With our strong foundation though being in Jesus Christ, we are praying and asking each of you to pray along with us that radiation therapy will not be necessary. Let there be no doubt about it, should she need it we will do it. If that happens then we fully believe every gift of grace, mercy, patience, courage and peace will be ours to walk that out with. We do though say in confidence and in faith that we stand against every notion of Traci needing it. Please join us in that prayerful stance. If God sees it another way then, as we have tried to do with every other mountain we have climbed so far, we will take it step by step. Really, what more can we do?
There continues to be sincere joy in this journey we are on. We do not want to miss anything God has to teach us as we walk it out. Someday and in some forum God has yet to share with us, we want to tell the whole of the story. These occasional updates give you all just a glimpse. For those that visit us or call us or we get to spend time with face to face, you get to hear a bit more. We do pray that in time we can fully “brag on God” the way our hearts desire to right now. I giggle what I truly think is a holy giggle when I look at what all he has done for us, taught to us and formed in us since August 11.
The journey is deepened by being allowed to share it with you all. Thank you for willingly taking these steps with us.
Rob and Traci
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