Informed consent

"Consenting to suffer does not annul the suffering."
~ Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward


I have basked in the delightful truths and nuances in this book, lent me quite unexpectedly by an acquaintance at church. I began it dolefully, and finished it wishing it were twice as long. It is such an encouragement that life as I know it has been being meted out by Christian women for centuries; there is nothing new under the sun (Ecc. 1:9). I will be quoting it frequently in the next few days, as I organize the thoughts that have been spurred on by this long-dead author.

I learned more about my situation and options on Friday at my endocrinology appointment. The treatment protocol at Mayo is experimental, and involves the use of the MISCA scoring system to "grade" thyroid cancer, followed by mostly surgical management of recurrences in the lymph nodes. The particular protocols are written for either papillary or follicular carcinoma; my tumor is a hybrid of the two, and, although I was included in the papillary group, my tumor can mimic either type. Follicular carcinomas spread microscopically via the blood stream, and therefore full body monitoring is a must to catch metastasis early on. The treatment protocol at Mayo does not include anything but local screening for metastasis through the lymph nodes in the neck region. We have unequivocally decided to continue treatment locally at Luther, where the old "gold standard" method will be employed: radioactive iodine ablation followed by frequent whole body scans and neck ultrasounds.

One small boon amongst the thorns of this treatment decision: I must be off my replacement hormone for six long weeks, meaning I don't have to wean Caleb until October 23! A whole blessed month to nurse him. I am relieved, for both of us. This will mean much less emotional pain for him, better nutrition for longer, and less physical and emotional pain for me as I can ease into this bitter transition. I am so thankful. My ablation is scheduled to commence November 3, with a trace dose of radioactivity, and end November 6, with the large dose.

The tears are less over the past few days. I have been distracted by church camp and family festivities. I try to soak these joys up like a sponge, yet I don't want it to distract too much from the suffering I am undertaking for Christ's glory. I am willing to suffer, and I want this trial to work in my life to its maximum potential. I want to become a better listener, and a better speaker, entering into a more thorough discourse with God over every minute decision and feeling and consequence of my days. I want to understand this life - and forthcoming death - to a much deeper extent by the time I am done with this trial. I don't want to just soak up the distractions of this world to the exclusion of the purposeful pain that has been put in my days for this season. I want to walk that fine line of learning yet not dwelling, understanding yet not being anxious, studying yet not abandoning my duty for the vain pursuit of knowledge. I want true wisdom, that "sweet spot" that puts feet to knowledge and action to mere words.

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. (Proverbs 31:26-27)