Mostly people are well behaved in 12a. They enter like obedient puppies, heads hung low, submitting themselves to the treatment, trusting the nurses know what’s best, anticipating the reward of going home.
Going home is the equivalent of a liver treat at the end of puppy school. “Isn’t it great that your going home!” the nurses remind us and other patients at the end of everyday.
Every now and then a patient arrives making it evident that he or she isn’t going to tow the line. It makes my day on my chair more interesting. It’s hard to read quietly with all that happens in here, so mostly I observe, write, and think.
That is, when I’m not actively defending my daughter, or asking advice or down in pharmacy filling the endless scripts for the drugs she requires on a daily basis.
You can tell which patients are new. They aren’t as confident, they complain about how long they’ve been waiting, they still have their hair. They are happy though to be served cordial and Arnott’s ‘Nice’ biscuits from the food trolley at 10:15am and sandwiches at 12:30pm.
We bring our own lunch and I’ve made friends with all the staff who serve the food and drinks. This way I hope they’ll resent me less when I’m under their feet in the kitchen and occasionally they offer me a drink as well as Sam. I’m sure it’s against regulations.
Today there’s a new guy in12a. He arrives in King Gees looking like a fan of Steve Irwin. It’s clear he isn’t a fan of being here. None of us are. He refuses to sit in the denim blue ‘Jason’ recliner and opts for the visitor’s seat instead. “It looks disgusting and dirty,” he tells the nurse who graciously informs him that the choice is his but they are cleaned and sterilized every evening.
The nurses are amazing. All day long they try to make things as easy as possible sympathizing, listening; providing advice and as much
information as possible. Today they are listening to ‘Love Songs of the 60s’ and laughing together behind the desk.
This morning we are arrived at 8:00am for the blood tests and now we wait for the bone marrow biopsy. It’s 11.30am. Sam is reading Harry Potter, she is calm and unfazed, though extremely hungry. It’s a drag that she has to fast for sedation.
I’m thinking about the promises of God. How we inherit them through faith and patience.
Lots of people have asked me what happens now since Pastor Phil prayed for Sam. Can we take a test to show she has been healed? Can the treatment stop? Does she continue with chemo?
Others, countless others have loaned us and bought us books! Recommended diets, suggested alternatives to chemotherapy.
Like having a newborn baby it seems everyone has advice for me.
Beautiful, well meaning people who want to rescue us from the pain.
Everyone who has known someone with cancer empathizes. It’s human nature, I guess, to make comparisons, to give advice, to seek to encourage and lighten the load.
We’ve decided to do two things. One is to put our faith in God, the other is to listen to our doctor. We are committed to believing that Sam is healed and we are walking out her healing by receiving all the treatment her doctor is recommending.
In the case of leukaemia, the proof of healing is in clinical trials.
We need to get two negative results in a row to show that she’s in full remission. The first result will come from today’s bone marrow biopsy. The next one will come a few months from now, after the next bone marrow biopsy.
We are in complete faith for these two negative results. Unfortunately we must be patient allowing the treatment to continue until we can get this evidence. Without this proof the doctors give Sam little hope. They fear she will relapse. Relapse patients have a 5% chance of survival. We are not afraid.
Sam is healed and we continue the process of treatment until the doctors agree.
Many cancers can be cured by diet but there is no recorded evidence available to show that this is possible in the case of leukaemia. Some chemotherapy drugs are derived from plants and natural sources but food in and of itself can not penetrate the bone marrow and cause it to create healthy cells.
The biopsy procedure only takes about half an hour. First Sam receives a new wrist band, hears the two A4 pages of possible risks, read aloud and then autographs the forms. Her vital signs are monitored, her weight considered, an area of her back is marked and then a first dose of Medazalan. She seems to be rested but opens her eyes wide awake when the icy cold disinfectant is rubbed over her lower back. More sedation, then the whirr of the blood pressure cuff inflating and deflating.
The doctor takes his time. That in itself soothes me. I feel like Sam is a person not just another task to be completed in an already busy day.
A large, green sterile cloth is laid over her back. It has an access hole to isolate the site area. She has to hold still. The first injection of anaesthetic makes Sam cry out loud. I can see that she’s tempted to stretch out her legs but she controls herself. I feel helpless but remind her she is strong and can do this.
After all this the biopsy can take place. I am brave, glancing over
the green cloth, I watch. I see the tools, the needles, all the equipment. I see a cork screw like implement protruding from my daughters lower back, the concentrated face of the doctor, immediately I wish I hadn’t looked.
Focusing back on my job here, I squeeze her hand, helping her breathe. Breathe in and out 1,2,3,4 and in! So it goes throughout as he tugs and pulls and my legs feel weak.
The extracted, pinkish blood fluid is collected in petrii dishes and smeared over microscope slides. The procedure completed brings tears of relief. For the first time Sam begins to sob and her mascara smears the white pillow slip.
When she has finished crying she asks me to turn the pillow over, wipes her face, asks to eat or drink. But she has to continue fasting another hour. She is craving French onion dip.
It’s 1:30pm now and she’s sleeping. There are only 2 other patients here.
Her vital signs are checked every 15 mins for 2 hours after the biopsy. They are taking every precaution today.
Tomorrow she starts the oral chemotherapy three weeks behind schedule. Then next Monday she will be admitted at last.
The ‘Presence Conference’ was incredible. We arrived with great expectation and were not disappointed. Pastor Phil’s prayer and the support of the crowd lifted us.
I am thankful to God that as we cast our cares upon Him the yoke is
easy and our burden is light. We enter His rest.