Last week I was up to see my ophthalmologist and got the spot on the back of my eye checked. The spot is still there, and about the same size, but it is not growing and the fluid behind it is dissipating. All of this is good news because it means that whatever is back there is not getting any worse and may even be getting a little better.
Then, yesterday I got the results of my latest PET scan, and all is looking good. The scan was clean, which means that there is no sign of cancer in my bones, or anywhere else right now.
Results like this always bring me a large amount of hope - hope in the prayers of so many of you, hope in the doctors and the medicines I am taking, hope in this great God who continues to amaze me with his hands of grace and healing in my life.
I also spent some time talking with my doctor about the future. If there comes a time when this drug stops working, what else is out there. He described cancer as a box. For years the medical field tried to smash the box of cancer to pieces, now they have opened the box up. In opening it up they have found new ways to treat cancer, like my new drug, and they have high hopes for these treatments because they are going after the specific source of each specific cancer. He said there are a number of drugs in trial stages for my kind of cancer, all of which have a lot of hope tied to them.
A few weeks ago my radiation oncologist said that if the drug I was taking now continued to work for the next five years, then there is a good chance that the next drug I were to take would make my cancer chronic rather than terminal.
Talk about hope.
In going through all of this for the past three years, one thing that I have been reminded of over and over again is the power of hope.
Hope can open our eyes in the darkest of times.
Hope can be the arm we need to support us as we walk the rocky road.
Hope can be the strength we need to look at the day and say, yes, right now things look pretty awful, but this is not the last word. There is a word of hope, a word of promise, a word that joins with the psalmist and says, "Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Ps. 30:5).
Sometimes that night may linger for quite awhile, but the sun will rise, the morning will come, and it is the hope of that joy that holds onto us in the darkest of times.
Over the past three years I have had my eyes opened to hope in a number of ways - from the clean test results, to the hopeful future for medications, to the loving embrace of family when it was not good news, to the strength of others survivors who helped me to move forward, to the work of hope I heard from God in scripture and embodied in my brothers and sisters, to the ..... Well, the list can go on forever.
Today I live with in the reality of knowing that in three months I will be taking another PET scan and seeing what is going on inside me. I live in the reality of knowing that there will be some tough days ahead, because it is life and life is not easy all the time.
And I also live in the reality of knowing that I have hope. I have hope in my family, my friends, my doctors and nurses, my brothers and sisters, and the God who claimed me and loves me. And it is this hope that will continue to move me forward and have my eyes opened to that joy that comes in the morning.
Today I pray that your eyes may be opened to the blessing of hope in your life.