I’m beginning to realize that there are many stages to fighting cancer. Let’s call the first one, The Crying Stage for obvious reasons. We began this journey with a lot of tears and a lot of friends crying with us by our side. It’s a painful stage, but when done right…it ends up being a beautiful picture of how God comforts you during despair. The second stage is the Information Stage. This begins when you choose to trust God and join the fight in front of you by getting all the information you can. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to his disciples, telling them the importance of gathering enough information before taking action.
“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” — Luke 14:31-33
I have learned more about tumors in the last three months than I ever expected to…and Megan deserves an honorary nursing degree! But through everything we have learned, God uses this information to help us accurately count the cost of fighting cancer. We now know how strong it is. We know the toll it takes on the body. We know how long it normally takes people to beat this tumor. But we have also discovered how strong God made Bennett to be. And we also know that God and His army is stronger than any disease on this earth! We have counted the cost…and I like our odds!
So now we move on to the next stage. I’m calling this one the Rhythm Stage. Just like Daylight Savings is jarring to your family schedule, we are finally beginning to learn a new rhythm as a family. We are back under one roof (most of the time) and are teaching Davis and Reide what it is like to live, fighting cancer together as a family team. It means Davis holds Bennett’s hand whenever we are in the car because it makes him happy. It means learning to like healthier food because Bennett needs the best nutrition possible. It means being flexible because you never know when you’ll have to take a trip to the hospital. It’s a new rhythm to life…and it’s hard.
So we are hunkered down… beginning this new stage…and asking the question, “What’s next, Lord?” This is also the exact same question I asked our doctor at our last appointment. Both of them have the same answer…
“I can’t tell you.”
Our doctor can’t tell us because Bennett’s case is so unique and rare that she has literally thrown away all the standard treatment protocols and is taking this day by day. For example…normally, Bennett would get a booster dose of chemo today. When we asked on Thursday if that would happen, our doctor said, “I don’t know…I’m curious to find out too!” You see, Bennett’s liver…the tumor…and his whole body didn’t respond to treatment the way we expected from the beginning. So we have to literally take this a day at a time. Each day they look and see where his counts are, whether or not the tumor changed again, how much he weighs…and a number of other things… and then decide what to do next. At all times our doctor has a dozen or more next steps planned and waits to see where Bennett’s body tells her to go.
I love this! Why? Because it’s a perfect illustration and reminder to me of what it looks like to live by faith and keep in step with God. Paul tells us this in his letter to the Galatians.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” — Galatians 5:25
Becoming a follower of Christ is so similar to what my family has been living out since Christmas. First, you enter The Crying Stage. You finally discover how painful life can be…how hard it is to live up to the demands of this world…and it leads you to tears. Then you enter the Information Stage where you begin to count the cost to determine if you have what it takes to win at life. At some point you discover that you don’t but you also gain the understanding of the offer Christ makes to us all of us on the cross. His offer is beautiful. “Place your trust in me…and I’ll take your weakness, flaws and sin…and I’ll give you my strength, perfection and righteousness. Together we will make it through this life.”
And when you accept Jesus’ offer, you step into the Rhythm Stage. You begin to discover a new set a values that force you to create a new rhythm to your life. It’s painful and hard at first and that’s why you take it one day at a time. Just like my doctor is taking it one day at a time and keeping in step with Bennett’s body…and just like my family is taking it one day at a time and keeping in step with each other…followers of Jesus take it one step at a time and keep in step with The Spirit.
This is what it means to live and walk by faith. It’s saying, “Yes, Lord!” even when He only shows you the very next step. It’s uncomfortable at times to not have your life all planned out…but it’s also the most exciting way to live. Instead of placing my trust in a great plan of my own making, I’m trusting God has the best plan and I’m joyfully walking in step with Him…instead of walking ahead of Him like an untrained dog who resents his leash.
So today, I’m thankful for God’s protective hand that is teaching my family to walk in a new rhythm. I’m thankful for the unending way He is providing for us and blessing us. I’m thankful for the signs of healing that we are seeing…the tumor is shrinking, Bennett is beginning to eat more and he is bouncing back from this round of chemo very quickly. I’m thankful my family is under one roof for the first time since Christmas…eating breakfast in the mornings at the same table and praying together at bedtime. I’m thankful.
Now what’s next? We keep in step with Jesus and we pray for Bennett’s healing. We are now entering the stage where fatigue can happen at any moment. This is a long road and there aren’t any major road marks ahead to look forward to. The experimental trial drug may or may not be used…it probably will…but we don’t know when. More radiation may or may not happen. Feeding tubes may change…they may not. We just don’t know.
So we focus on what we do know. We know that God is good. He is leading the way and healing Bennett. And we continue to thank Him along the way!
For the most recent prayer updates on Bennett, you can see them on our Facebook Group, #Pray4BabyBennett.