no signs of new tumor growth in full brain scan.


no sign of loose cancerous cells in CSF. 2 1/2 months after first all clear report before we started chemo in nov.
Our Dr sent a message to me through his nurse:
(He) wanted me to tell you that he feels certain that the nucleated cells in the CSF were reactive cells,
a response to the tumor disappearing.”


It is difficult to articulate the feelings I have been having over the last 24 hours.  Yesterday, when our Dr walked into the room after giving us the preliminary all clear on Joel’s MRI results, I noticed very quickly that his countenance had changed.  I knew what was coming.  See, before the full evaluation from the pathologist, all our doctor had seen was the  line: “CSF, OTHER CELL   32     %” in the report above.  The report only represents a counted sample of 100 cells.  Obviously many more cells are present on the slide the pathologist reviews, and many many more cells in the fluid that is drawn from Joel’s spine, but 100 represents a good sample.

A full one third of those cells marked “OTHER”.  He prepared us for the worst.  He said we could do more experimental treatment with clinical trials.  But those aren’t curative.  He could manage the cells in Joel’s spinal fluid with more chemo, once every six weeks.  But that wouldn’t be curative.  The only curative option he gave was what I have decided to call the “Nuclear Option.”
That is, we could combine treatment.  Give Joel chemo in his spinal column and then radiate Joel’s full head and spine with a very high dose of radiation.  This option COULD be curative, however, they don’t do this to children under three.  They don’t do it because even for the medical community it is too extreme an option for the quality of life it offers to those who have long term survival from their cancer.  It could cripple him physically and cause extreme cognitive damage to his brain.
After hearing this, my thoughts were.  “Maybe this is something we should consider.”  I argued all good Christian ethical reasons why we should.  I argued that it isn’t my decision to determine the value of a life.  That perhaps his happiness wasn’t the chief end here.  That if we could do anything available we should.  That we would amputate a leg or both his arms or remove his kidneys if it would allow him to live.
In short, I argued that it is worth severely crippling my son mentally and physically so that I could MAYBE keep him here a little longer.
And then I wondered.  Is this faith?  Or is this fear of death.  Is this love or is this selfishness.  Is this trust or despair.
For the first time I felt real empathy for impossible medical decisions and the families making them.  A love for those who would decide to pull the plug.  To do nothing.  To let go.  To believe that heaven waits.
My wife’s quiet confidence was infuriating to me.  This irrational belief that these 32 cells could possibly be anything but cancerous.  I wish I had heeded her admonition. Because for two hours I made her go there with me.  Into that morass of icky sticky greyness in which I wanted to wallow.  Of justifying my action or inaction as noble and wise and the place of policy and rhetoric and grand philosophy.
I should have just shut my mouth.
And listened.
For that still quiet voice that says.  “Wait.”
Had I trusted that God would maybe speak to me about what HE thought we should do.  I would have heard the answer to my grand questions and longing of my heart.  I would be able to medidate on His promises.
In short, I would have been able to enter His rest.
What damage we can do when we flail.  And yet, in spite of me, we are offered reprieve.
And for now I can say with confidence that:   “Joel doesn’t have cancer today”  and celebrate.  and cry.  and thank Him.  again.


There are 7 comments for this post.

  1. Jenny Hutson on January 27, 2011 1:37 pm

    I have come back to this website probably five times in the last two days, just reading and re-reading what I believe in my heart to be a miracle performed by the Almighty God. Praise God for Joel and his cancer-free body! And God Bless you, Amy and Ryan, for your faithfulness and perseverance. God has big things planned for Joel. BIG things.

  2. Jess Baller on January 27, 2011 3:31 pm

    A M A Z I N G! M I R A C U L O U S! God is so GOOD! i agree w/ jenny, God has BIG things planned for joel!

  3. Becky on January 27, 2011 10:56 pm

    Such a blessing! Prayers are answered! I couldn’t be more happy for you.

  4. Jim Rutherford on January 27, 2011 10:56 pm

    Ryan, I am so touched and moved by your post – by your willingness to be so transparent – so open & honest. All of us, no matter the depth of our faith, are quick to look for human solutions in times of crisis. You have shown SO much faith though this last year and God has honored that!

  5. Doug and Valorie Towne on January 28, 2011 9:11 am

    Words cannot express our thankfulness to God, our happiness for Joel and your whole family and the awe that we are filled with in your victory. We are grateful!!!

  6. Amorette on January 28, 2011 11:07 am

    Ryan~Thank you for being so honest and real about your thoughts and feelings…we are all human and at times no matter our faith try to solve things in ourselves instead of waiting on him. I so appreciate how open and honest you guys have been throughout this whole year! It has been such a blessing to me to follow your blog this past year. I am so full of joy and happiness for your family at this miraculous news that Joel has been healed!! God is always faithful, even in the times when we may momentarily lose our faith and let our circumstances get the best of us! My daughter, Phoebe, has just turned 4 when we got the message on FB from Richard Bonnell about Joel and she has been praying for him every day since then. When I told her yesterday that his cancer was gone she got so excited! She threw her hands up in the air and said, “God is awesome! He healed him because I prayed and now he gets to grow up!” It has been a great experience for my now 5 year old daughter about the faithfulness of God! We will continue to keep your family in our prayers…God has something amazing planned for your family and for Joel’s life! God bless you guys and thank you for sharing this journey with us!
    Tons of love~Amorette

  7. Willow on January 28, 2011 8:16 pm

    So often I have cried reading your posts about Joel’s treatments and his and your pain. I am so happy to say that the tears I shed were ones of joy after reading about the results of these tests. Praise God!

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