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News

“The scan has shown that you have a new area of metastasis in the brain.”

These are the words I have dreaded from the very beginning. These are the words that were said to me last Wednesday. And I have seen that somehow the world does not stop turning. It continues to move on its axis, the sun still comes up when it is supposed to, little boys still giggle, and there are still moments of laughter and joy in my heart.

I have been doing poorly for the past couple of weeks. My appetite was minimal and my spine pain, both neck and low back, combined with a lack of energy, was keeping me mostly couch or bed bound. I had a scheduled appointment with the nurse practitioner on Tuesday, and we discussed several new strategies and several new drugs to address the problems. I had a renewed hope, though it was tenuous.

We were to leave for the beach the next day, Wednesday morning. However, by Wednesday morning I was having symptoms that I couldn’t control. I had begun vomitting repeatedly for no apparent reason. I was moderately constipated. I had a significant new abdominal pain. I began to worry about a bowel obstruction. The last thing I wanted was to get a few hours down the road to the beach and get in such straights that we were stuck with no good medical options. So I decided to call the doctor early Wednesday morning to see what they recommended.

My description was enough for them to ask me to come in to see them right away. I was keeping nothing down, including water. My last weight had been 104 pounds (I am naturally around 130) and we certainly didn’t want it to decrease any further.

After I arrived, they immediately began fluids and pain meds through my port. The doctor came in to check me and quickly determined that a bowel obstruction was not likely. However, she wanted to do some scans to be sure. I was under the impression the scans were to rule out obstruction. I would later understand she’d been hoping to rule out something else.

She told me that in addition to the normal scans of my abdomen, she planned to add in a CT scan of the head. She said it was probably nothing but she was just being her careful self; “being anal” to use her words. I knew enough to know this could be bad. But I didn’t figure there was a point in asking what she might be looking for when we would find out for sure what it showed within a few hours.

It was around 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon that the verdict was delivered. The head CT had revealed an area of metastasis in my lower brain: the cerebellum. It was one, rather small, rather discreet spot, measuring 19 mm across (which is less than one inch.)

She explained the new plan, her new recommendation. She recommended cyberknife. Cyberknife is not actually “cutting” at all. It is very local, targeted radiation done robotically with a high degree of accuracy. The Sarah Cannon folks have had their machine three years, so they are experienced, but many places do not offer this technology at all. I have been given a very high-tech, aggressive option for treatment, with significantly lowered risks than surgery because it is not invasive at all. It should, over about 8 weeks time, kill most if not all of the cancerous cells in my brain.

She went on to explain the plan would be to take care of this brain lesion with the cyberknife and then quickly move on to another clinical trial drug. In other words, address the brain issue but then we would be back in the same boat – hoping to find a trial drug that will control the growth of the cancer and hopefully keep it from spreading anywhere at all, including back in the brain.

She said that the CT of the abdomen showed mixed results again. Some spots in my liver were reduced, some had grown, and there were some new tumors. She didn’t recall any other new organs or body areas of metastasis.

There was a big “however.” CT scans of the head are not as accurate as an MRI. I would have to undergo an MRI of my head the next day to make sure that there were no other areas of metastasis; to make sure that there were no small spots that had gone undetected. This began the most pleading prayer over the next few hours – “Lord, let them not find anything else.”

I was admitted to the hospital to get the nausea (which was likely caused by the swelling around the brain lesions) under control and to get my bowels moving again. Thursday was to be full with MRI and cyberknife preliminary testing and appointments.

The MRI did reveal another area of metastasis, but only one more discreet area. I have two small spots, very close together, in my cerebellum. The rest of my brain was clear. I am still a candidate for cyberknife. Thank you, Lord.

For those that don’t know, the cerebellum is mostly in charge of posture, balance, and coordination. Thankfully, I have not noticed any deficits in these areas, with one exception. I have noticed some difficulty talking. I have no trouble retrieving words and knowing exactly what I want to say, but the formation of the words doesn’t alway happen as I expect. This is very mild, however, and most folks don’t even notice anything off with my speech. I only notice trouble occasionally.

I have been told it is safest for me not to drive, just because my reaction time may be slightly off. I’ve been told that a short trip to the grocery store, etc, is probably fine, but of course as a doctor they have to tell me no driving. I get that. I plan to avoid it at all costs when I can.

There are supposed to be no real side-effects nor long-term ill-effects of the cyberknife. Most people resume normal activity within a day or two. The most common complaint is a bit of fatigue and occasional nausea. I’ve been told I probably won’t even lose enough hair to be noticeable. I’ve been told there should be no long-term brain function limitations or losses.

My oncologist hopes to begin a new trial as early as the first of July. In the interim weeks, she wants to try a non-trial drug currently on the market just so we are fighting with something until the trial can begin (I can’t remember the name of it). She said that depends on what my insurance will allow.

So that is where we are today. The goal is to have the cyberknife procedures (probably a 35 minute treatment on two back-to-back days) later this week. I am on a steroid to reduce brain swelling but it is also greatly improving my appetite and energy level, which is nice. Overall, I am feeling much better than I have in recent weeks. I am still battling constipation. We got things moving way too much in the hospital, had to take immodium to shut it down, and now I’m having to get aggressive getting things moving again. I have not yet reached the optimum middle ground. This means I am very bloated, which does not help with appetite. Any prayers on this front are appreciated.

I know this is a long post. I wanted to make you as aware as possible, because I know the only information shared so far with some is that it is spread to my brain. This can conjure up all sorts of fears and imaginings.

God’s peace is an amazing thing. I have certainly run the gamut of emotions over the last several days, and still can do so on any given day. I find hope in the fact that the doctors have still not mentioned or speculated on time-frames. They have not mentioned hospice care; they have not spoken of end-of-life issues at all. I am trying not to go there ahead of them. In fact, at one point in the hospital I became very upset and called Brian over to start telling him many of my wishes for death/burial/etc. We got only a few minutes in and were interrupted by a nurse coming in to work with me. We both felt that maybe that wasn’t an accident.

I do continue to pray that if God’s will is to take me home early, that I will go quickly without a lot of deterioration – in weight, in brain function. I do not want my children to remember me like that. So if I go, it may be suddenly. My greatest hope is that again, that no one will say “I lost my battle with cancer.” I hate HATE that phrase. Cancer will not win. Jesus will win. End of story.

Mostly I still have this hope: this hope that God is only adding this brain piece to make my story more interesting. That when He rids me of cancer it will be just that more miraculous. I can’t explain this hope. But it lives and thrives in me.

What to pray? Boy, I can’t tell you that anymore. I still believe He, the great God of the universe, the God of all flesh,  is powerful to do anything. I hope you will not turn passive in your prayers for me. That you will not relent to what the world says in its wisdom is likely to happen. I will submit to God’s will, and I continue to believe that His plan is somehow perfect even if death is His plan, but that may be yet to be determined. 

My goal now: just take the next step, Sara. Just the next step. All is out of my control. I live the next minute, the next hour. I take one step at a time. I will not let uncontrolled worrying about what MAY happen ruin this day that I’ve been given.

Heavenly Father,

You are good. You are love. I beg you for mercy. I beg you to come with your power that knows no bounds, no limits. I ask for my eyes to be fixed on you, and not the storm clouds around me. Be merciful to my children, to my husband, for I have made promises to be a help-meet and a partner. Be merciful to my family, to my friends. I long to see you face to face and be home, but my work here may not be done and I can’t stand to think of their pain. You are good, you are love. I will remember this.

I ask everything in the powerful name of Jesus.  Amen. 





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54 Responses to “News”

  1. Elaine Heinze August 28, 2012 at 4:38 am #

    Praying for you and your family.

  2. Luann Jackson August 15, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Dear Sara,
    What a brave and beautiful young lady you are! God certainly has you in the Palm of His Hand! Your words are an inspiration to many people that have not had the pleasure of meeting you personally. Jesus literally beams His love through your words of adoration and worship for Him. My prayer is for your complete deliverence! There was once a young mother in one of our Churches that had very much a similar situation to yours. She had just given birth to a beautiful baby when she found out that she had cancer in every major organ of her body except one (kidneys I think), but the Word of the Lord came to her, and she was at last healed and cancer free. I pray that you will have just this wonderful of a deliverence. God bless you and keep you close to His side every single second of every day!! Praying for you, Dear!!

  3. kay July 9, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    Dear Sara,

    Continual prayers come from this side of the world, down under, for your healing.
    We are with you as July 10th approaches. With abundant love, your sisters.

  4. Heather Bates July 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    Sara,

    I have July 10th on my mind and heart.

    I am praying for you.

  5. Robin Evans June 27, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    Dear Sara,

    I was given a slip of paper with your website written on it by an “angel” at St. Thomas more than 2 months ago. I had just come out of anesthesia from a colonoscopy which had revealed that I had Stage IV rectal cancer. A nurse said she had heard about me, and wanted me to read about you because you were uplifting and inspiring. I think I only saw her the one time, and I was beside myself and still sedated so I didn’t get her name. I hope she knows how much I appreciated her care and thoughtfulness. I had lost the note until tonight… the night before my surgical consult about which I am nervous, to say the least. I have always worried about everything, even though I know in my heart that it IS such a waste of time. God has a plan for all of us. He also has quit a sense of humor… and timing. On your “My Story” page you wrote that you “don’t have to worry about tomorrow, because He is already there, and worry just ruins today anyway.” I needed to hear that tonight, especially tonight. Please remember your own words, and hold on to them. And, know that your story has touched people you may never meet, but who know about you. Thank you for being so generous as to share such a personal struggle with strangers. You and your family are in my prayers.

    With Love,
    Robin

  6. Dana Young June 23, 2012 at 6:09 am #

    My heart is being pulled to Sara this morning. I am lifting her and her family and friends up in prayer. We love you Sara! ♥♥♥

  7. Sara Usrey June 22, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    Anyone know of any updates on Sara?

  8. Frances Palmer June 21, 2012 at 8:50 pm #

    Dear Sara, Just want you to know I am praying hard for you & your family.
    Please keep your great faith.
    I Love You, Frances

  9. Sara Usrey June 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    Praying in Indiana!

  10. Jessica Lawhern June 21, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    I am so in awe of your strength, courage and faith. You are an amazing woman. Praying for you and your family today and everyday. .

  11. Heather Bryant June 21, 2012 at 8:28 am #

    Praying without ceasing for you and your beloved family. May you feelh God’s lhoving arms wrapped around you. Hope you are having good days full of love and laughter 🙂

  12. Michelle June 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Sara, I found your blog today via Kelly’s Korner. I, too, am a writer — I earned a Master’s degree in JOurnalism and have been writing and editing for 30 years. But nothing I have ever done can hold a candle to your gentle, moving, inspirationally powerful words … your prose reads like poetry. And you are right: This is God’s plan for you — to reach hundreds, thousands of people with your beautiful ideas about man and God, just as you intended when you were a little girl.
    I will hold you and your family close to my heart and constantly in my prayers, and I will look forward to many, many, many more beautiful words from you. God bless you.

  13. Kristi June 20, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Praying for you in Virginia….

  14. Kim Norvell June 19, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    Sara,

    You & your family are in my prayers and thoughts. You and your faith are a blessing to me. I’m asking God for His mercy to surround you, and His power to comfort you.
    Sincerely,
    Kim
    Friend of Michael & Stephanie

  15. Donna June 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Sara,
    Though we’ve never met, I think of you and pray for you often. I was so distraught to read this post and your sister’s post on Caring Bridge. I hope you’re feeling better and received good news following the procedure & hospitalization. I recently had a brain scare as well and know how heavy that can weigh on you — I can’t imagine that on top of everything else you’re dealing with. My neurosurgeon was determined from day one to operate because he was determined that the lesser procedure wouldn’t work. After 12 days of hospitalization, I walked out healed and left my neurosurgeon shaking his head. He said, “You know, I never thought this would work.” and I said, “Yes, but you didn’t know how many people were praying for me.” God healed me and I pray he heals you as well.

    I pray that you and your family feel and know the peace that only God can provide. You are such an inspiration. Your trust in God, your tenacity and the love you’ve shown throughout your blog have touched so many. I continue to pray for you and your family.

    With love,
    Donna

  16. Clara Hinton June 18, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    Dear Sara,
    My heart is heavy right now — heavy that you had to hear such difficult news again. But, my heart is also filled with prayers of hope for you. Our God is a mighty God, and He is not slack in keeping His promises. He will provide for you and your family in ways that we cannot even imagine. He promises that!

    My prayers continue daily (many times throughout the day) that God will grant you many more years of life on this earth with your husband and children, if it is His holy and divine will. He knows what He’s doing. Let us rest in His love and stand on His promises.

    Much love to you this day and always. Thank you so much for the bravery and strength it took to give us your most recent update so that our requests can continue to be made to God on your behalf.

    May God give you many special moments today, Sara, where you feel absolutely no pain and where you find total peace.

    Love and continued prayers,
    Clara

  17. Kristen Keeton June 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

    I don’t know how I ended up on your site to read your story, fate I guess. God bless you Sara and your wonderful family. I will be praying for you. I lost my second daughter, Elizabeth Grace in 1996 to stillbirth, so I know how hard that is. Like you, I look forward to when I go home so I can see her again. Your strength and faith is something that I will not forget. You are amazing and I pray that God’s healing hands will touch you.

  18. Traci Few June 15, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Praying for you, your family, your recovery.. always.

    I will never say the word “lost”… only WIN 🙂 You are so right. Jesus will win and I pray with all my heart and might that winning means you are here, healthy, sharing more of your amazing heart and spirit with us.

    There is no relenting or shrinking resolve here… there is only boldly asking God to cure you and give you strength during the healing process!

  19. debbie jeffords June 14, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Sara, I set the alarm on my phone to pause at work & pray for you this morning. Thinking of you tonight. Hugs.

  20. Jennifer June 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

    Praying for you everyday.

  21. Laura Lasher June 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Sara,
    We continue to pray for you. The girls pray for Camden & Scott’s mommy. We love you very much and wish we could be there physically for you. We still know that God can heal. We love you and hurt with you.

  22. Ruth June 12, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Despite all that has recently happened, I wanted you to know that your Camden has blessed me by being in our “tribe” at VBS. He is one to be proud of and thankful for, as you are and do, I’m sure. 🙂 Repeatedly praying for you and your family….

  23. Phyllis Brown June 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Sara, I am praying for you every day that things will turn around and you will start feeling good again. God will see you thru this time and give you clarity of thought, wisdom, and peace. He cares for you deeply and he will never leave you alone. Just keep the faith you have. God Bless you and your family.

  24. Rebekah June 12, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    Sorry to hear about your last roadblock:( We continue to prayer for you to be completely healed! God is writing an amazing story with your life and through your website! Thanks for being willing to share it with all of us. You are loved and admired by so many because we all see the Holy Spirit alive in your life! Keep your light shining!

  25. Katie June 12, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Sara,

    Your attitude and outlook on life are so encouraging and challenging to me. It would be so easy for you to get discouraged and give up hope. Thank you for not giving up and for continuing to have faith! Keep going!! You are in my prayers!!

  26. Cynthia Arnold June 12, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    Sara, I admire you so much for your faith and optimism as you face adversity! You are such a wonderful Christian example for all of us. May God give you the strength you need as you begin a new treatment. You are constantly in our thoughts and prayers. May we all learn to savor each day, as you do. Cynthia

  27. Sarah June 11, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

    “Now may the God of peace . . . equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ every good thing that is pleasing to him.” Hebrews 13:20-21

  28. Holli D June 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

    Hi Sara,

    Thank you for your post and for keeping us all informed.

    I continue to pray boldly for your healing and refuse to pray passively!

    I love you, Holli 🙂

  29. Rachel P June 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    I love you, sweet Sara! You are so strong, my friend.

    Thank you for continuing to share your love for our Heavenly Father and your love for your precious family. Thank you.

    I pray in the Name of Jesus that you continue to put on the full Armor of God. Day by day . . . moment by moment.

    My friend, Nola, reminded me recently that if Jesus is “present” (here in the moment) then Satan has no power. At times when I’ve had no words to pray, I find it encouraging repeating the name, “Jesus, Jesus. Jesus.”

    When I think of you, I pray that Jesus will continue to fill your heart with His love day by day. You are a fighter. Praise God that Hope continues to reflect from your heart and plant seeds all over this world.

    As the song says, “Hope is here. It’s a new day, peace has come, Jesus saves.”

    Love You.

    Many Blessings 🙂

  30. Susan (Foster) Jones June 11, 2012 at 6:43 pm #

    Continuing to pray for you and your family.

  31. Ginger June 11, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Sara, thank you for the update. It is so good to hear your voice on here full of hope. I continue to pray and know that our God is still on our side, still performing miracles, and still has big plans for Sara Walker.

  32. Brenda Ezell June 11, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    I love you, Sara…..

  33. Tammy M. June 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Sarah, my heart is so full right now, so glad that we live in Nashville with the awesome Sarah Cannon Center with their innovations and expertise. I feel your hope in our Lord and I pray he still will use you to show his power and mercy. I pray for you daily and I wish I could give you a hug and tell you it will be all right. The truth is, I feel strongly that with our Lord, it WILL be all right. Praying for immediate success and a new trial that will do the trick.

  34. Leslie Harper June 11, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Sara,
    We are praying for you! I have 2 close friends whose dad had cyberknife and they wanted me to tell you that it was successful for their dad! If there is anything we can do please let us know.
    -Leslie, Keith, and Molly Harper

  35. Lori Herring June 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Sara,
    I don’t know if you remember me from college or not…Lori Holder and I married Jason Herring. Anyway, I’ve done your 5k the last 2 years and keep up with you on your sites. You are always in my prayers. We’re in M’boro now, but please let me know if there is anything that I can do for you. God is always with you! Praying….
    Lori

  36. callie June 11, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    I am constantly praying for you and the whole family. Your strength and faith are miracles in themselves, but I am still praying for an even bigger one. Love you so much!

  37. Eddie June 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Greetings Sara,
    Thank you for your posting, so full faith! Thank you for the faith you show and share. I have never met you, but I love you; I love your trust in our Father & His will, regardless of what it might be. You shame me because of the trifling things I allow to bother me in my everyday life. Thank you for helping me to reset my focus.
    I pray for your complete healing; for the tumors to go away, for the nausea to stop, for your body functions to be comfortable and normal again. I pray for the loving husband you must have and for your little children. May God bess you in all the ways you ask. In Him, Eddie

  38. Becci & John Nix June 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    You are still in our thoughts and prayers – stronger than ever before! Keep the Faith and trust in His Almighty power to heal and to save. The Nix family loves you.

  39. MICHELLE June 11, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Agreeing with your prayers and that your bowels are in working order and the cyberknife is directed accurately and performs to perfection and I say the cancer has no right in your body because of the work of the cross. Thanks so much for your praise of our Lord! Thank You Lord for the work You accomplished at the cross for Sara and for her family and friends in your precious Name, Amen!

  40. Ed Goolsby June 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Sara
    I was moved not only by your story but your faith and love Christ.
    I have no doubt there is a great plan for you. Strong faith in times of trials and troubles is praise and blessings to our Lord. Such a light you shine for Jesus will not go unnoticed. I feel this in my heart so strongly. You’ll be in every prayer i pray and I only hope i can reach a level of love and faith that you shown. Thank you for sharing your story which has touched my heart deeply. May the Lord hold you and your family in his loving arms till you are heald. In Christain love. Ed

  41. Jan June 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    Sara,

    I have always and will continue to pray boldly for you. I’m not sure if Brian told you or not, but I have had dreams where you are well and traveling the globe telling your story, tell of God’s power, might and love fo us, and bringing people to him through His son, Jesus. I still believe it is as possible now as ait was weeks, months ago. I will continue to pray for your healing, for peace and comfort that only He can provide for you and for your loving, sweet family. I will also be praying for the specific items that you mentioned in your post.

    Peace, Blessings and LOTS of Love and Prayers,
    Jan

  42. Larry Skelton June 11, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Dear God in Heaven…in whom all things are possible…I pray that you heal Sara…that you will use her here on earth to further your Kingdom… thank you for being our Father…for creating us and for sustaining us…thank you for everything…in the Name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

  43. Frances Palmer June 11, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Dear Sara, I am still praying hard for your complete healing.
    I am praying with faith. Please keep your strong faith.
    I Love You, Frances

  44. Debbie June 11, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Amen and Amen! I am in agreement with you Sarah and praying this prayer with you and for you.

  45. Allison Hilyer June 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    I am praying for healing, comfort, and for your joy to return!

  46. Audra Lambers June 11, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    You continue to bring glory to our heavenly Father and shine like a light in this horrific trial!!! I’ve never met you but you have been such a testimony to me in your openess, faith and love for our Heavenly Father. I pray so often for you and that GOd will do a miraculous miracle in healing all of this cancer. Thank you for your updates and opening your heart, emotions and love for our Lord!!! Be assured of my continued prayers for you and your family.

  47. Amber (Kelly) Espy June 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I still believe Sara. God is doing a mighty work through you and will continue to do it. Keep going sister.

  48. Tina Swinson June 11, 2012 at 11:59 am #

    Thought of you today as I was driving to work. Lifting you and your family up in prayer today for strength and healing.

  49. Katie Mosley June 11, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    I love you, friend. Praying praying praying!

  50. Sarah June 11, 2012 at 11:43 am #

    Dear Sara,
    I’m repeating your prayer often to our dear Father. He is hearing us. He is good. He is love.

  51. Emily June 11, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Sara, I am praying for you. Your love for the Lord is inspiring. He is faithful. Keep your eyes on Him. He wins in the end. I send you love and prayers as a sister in Christ.
    I attend church with Dawn Maier in Murfreesboro, North Blvd. She speaks so highly of you.

  52. Rita June 11, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    Covering you in prayer.

  53. Stephanie June 11, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    Sara, you have been on my mind a lot lately. I will continue to pray for peace, hope, healing, and guidance for each step of this journey that you’re walking.

  54. Teresa Messick June 11, 2012 at 11:27 am #

    Sara, the following verse has been on a post-it note at my desk all week. I read it everyday and today I read it on your behalf and prayed for the Father to be merciful as you have asked. Pray without ceasing Sister!

    “Yours, O Lord is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kindgom! We adore you as the one who is over all things.” 1 Chronicles 29:11

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