Saturday, January 10, 2009

Prayers for my mother, please

Dear friends,

My mother's cancer (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma) has reared its ugly head yet again.

She was first diagnosed with it in the Spring of 1995. At that time, her doctors told her that her prognosis was 10-15 years (this is a slow cancer), but also that this particular lymphoma is incurable. The one glimmer of hope was the knowledge that much research was being done on this particular form of lymphoma, and since the prognosis was long, it was possible that a cure might be found within my mother's lifetime. She began treatment at the National Institute for Health, and we all felt quite hopeful that if she could continue to participate in clinical trials there, she would receive the cutting edge of care and be able to take advantage of the latest in research.

It has been 14 years, and now, with this latest recurrence of the lymphoma, her doctors at NIH told her that the best treatment for the new tumor is the "standard of care" rather than the experimental alternative (which carries with it severe side effects, some of which might be permanent). NIH does not administer the "standard of care" treatments, and so they've referred my mother to another oncologist, who practices out of another hospital. This is quite a blow for my mother because she has come to feel very safe at NIH. Not only does NIH offer an "above-and-beyond" level of care, but over the years my mother has come to know and love her nurses very well; also, since my mother's diagnosis, my youngest sister went to nursing school and then took a job as an oncology nurse at NIH, so my parents had an advocate on the inside.

Chemotherapy is never easy, but many of the experimental therapies that my mom was able to take advantage of while at NIH had much milder side effects than your typical chemotherapy. This has been a long and exhausting road for my mother. Please remember her in your prayers as she begins this new adventure at a strange hospital, with a new doctor. I promise to do a better job of letting you know the results of this particular round of treatment. The problem is that not only does the treatment require many weeks, but then discovering the results often requires another wait of many weeks after treatment has ended.

My mom's name is Judy, by the way.


clairity said...

Your mom and all of you will be in my prayers. Much love.

Sara said...

I'm on it! Peace be with you and your family.

Marie said...

I was just thinking about your mom, because I've read that many sufferers of lymphoma have experienced significant improvement from rebounding. Apparently it is a means (of what can be extremely gentle exercise, even done sitting) that is a helpful stimulus to the lymphatic system.

I will certainly pray for her.

the booklady said...

Praying Suzanne! Thank you for offering us the opportunity to join you in prayer. Sending my angel to give you a ((hug))!

blessings, booklady

Alex Vitus said...

Your mom and y'all are in my prayers. Love

Suzanne said...

Thanks so much, everybody! This means more than I can express.

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."