Last month, I wrote a blog in honour of being one year brain cancer free. For those of you following, I have been getting an MRI scan every three months since my treatment ended last August (2016). A few days ago, I obtained the results of my third MRI where the doctor revealed, “your MRI scan looks nice and boring, just the way we want it!” Yes! This now makes me 13 months cancer-free.
My next scan will likely be sometime in September. People often ask me if these MRI’s get easier with time, and I often have a tough time answering that question. The act of getting an MRI is relatively easy; I get a needle in my arm for the IV contrast, walk into a room that sounds like a scene from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, and then I lay on a table with my head strapped in place so I don’t move for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The machine scans my brain and spine and sends out different noise frequencies that sound like a violent video game.
But almost every time I am laying in the machine, or even waiting for my results at the doctor’s office…thoughts cross my mind: “It probably came back”, “You’re probably going to have to deal with this all over again”, “You aren’t going to beat this”. I instantly fend the thoughts off with a verse. Usually it’s, “A thousand fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand, but it will not come near me” or, “He who began a good work in me will finish it to completion”. The fear eventually leaves, and I am once again in a state of peace.
I know that I am a walking miracle, not only because I am alive today, but because there is not a shred of evidence of any cancer in my brain or spine, even after I only received the bare minimum of conventional medicine (i.e., surgery in Winnipeg, and then 6 weeks of chemotherapy and radiation in Boston). I have met many fantastic doctors on my journey and almost every single one of them said, “This type of disease at your age is so rare, we know that radiation is helpful, and anything after that is a huge question mark. But we recommend you do at least 6-12 months of chemotherapy after radiation.”
Paul and I decided with our oncologist that I would decline the 6-12 months of additional chemotherapy. Not only because the data supporting this suggestion was so controversial in my case, but also because the chemotherapy they would use consisted of more Vincristine (along with two harsher drugs), the very same drug I had taken in Boston, that I reacted so poorly to once I returned home. The drug had damaged my nerves so bad, I was left using a walker to get around the house, and a wheelchair to commute to doctors’ appointments.
I am at peace with the decision to forgo further treatment and have no plans for future or alternative therapy. You could say I have adapted a mind, body, and soul approach to healing. I try to eat the best that I can by paying close attention to my intake of sugar and unhealthy fats. I take about a dozen capsules of herbs and vitamins a day to give my immune system the tools it needs to fight disease. I try to exercise at least 3 times a week (back in November 2016, “exercising” was standing on my feet for 2 minutes straight. Now, I have advanced this to about 1 hour and 30 minutes of floor exercises, and 20 minutes of standing exercises as I hold the counter for balance). And by far the most important thing, I make a conscious decision to rest in God’s promises of health and healing every day, and that is available to anyone who will believe.
I am now 13 months’ brain cancer free and I don’t take this miracle lightly. The neuropathy (nerve damage) that left me immobile since the end of September of 2016, has almost completely left my feet. I still need assistance while walking, but usually it is just an arm to hang onto, to keep me balanced. One thing I believe so strongly is the God-given authority we have over our bodies. But I am not going to let life pass me by to realize how much power was at my disposal. I wake up every morning like I have for the past year and say to myself, “I am healed and my authority starts now.”