Hope in the Face of New Tumors

I’ve been toeing the line lately between hope and reality. There may be a better way to say that or capture what I mean by it because I realize that the truth is that in many ways what we put our hope in IS the reality. But in my context the reality is that I’m dying of cancer. We found out yesterday that there are two new tumors in my spine. They’re small but they’re there (that’s a lot of there’s in one sentence!). One is in my neck and the other is in my lower thoracic spine. Bad news. I also found out that my lungs have not yet fully recovered from the¬†pulmonary¬†embolism back in July, there’s still some residual clotting which means that I must continue on my blood thinners for another three months when we’ll check again. Bad news.

The reality is that this tumor seems to be an active little guy. The reality is not very hopeful. AND YET there is reason to hope. I’ve become convinced lately that hope (for me) can’t come through an ignorance of things as they are. Pretending that this isn’t bad news or watering down the news to something that feels easier doesn’t allow me to hold onto hope in a way that feels authentic. We each find our own ways of dealing with reality in its brokenness (because life is broken isn’t it!) and for me it’s beginning to come through a recognition of the ‘badness’ and a choice to hope despite it.

Ultimately my hope is not in healing. My hope is in resurrection, in a body that won’t decay, in a world that will be restored as God intended, a life lived in communion with others and the Communal God–in the restoration of all things. But I am also choosing to hope for healing, to hope that God chooses to let me experience a glimpse of that future reality today: a whole, healthy body allowing me to live a whole and healthy life.

The more I recognize the brokenness of my reality the more beautiful God’s redemption can and will be. Two new tumors? Ok. So if God chooses to bring healing it’ll be an even greater story. I don’t like it but I think I’m OK with it. If God can bring healing from one tumor…what’s a couple more? And regardless, like I’ve said from the very beginning–God desires to tell a story through each and every one of us regardless of whether we’re aware of our bodies decay or not–the question is what kind of story will we let him tell?

Lastly, and with great joy, I can also say that while there are two new tumors in my spinal cord I have absolutely no new symptoms to validate any new growth. Physically I have been healthier the last month than ever (this is all relative to how poorly I’ve felt over the last nine months of course)! It’s been a great season of health for me and it’s worth celebrating! And because I’ve got no new symptoms to validate the MRI results we are not going to change my current treatment. We will reevaluate in two months and we will continue to monitor my body, looking for any new symptoms. Until then we’ll continue on with my chemo treatment for five days on and 28 days off. Thank you for your prayers and support.

peace.

14 thoughts on “Hope in the Face of New Tumors

  1. Ryan,
    I don't know what to say, except that my heart broke when I read that there are two new tumors in your spine. But like you said so brilliantly; there is still hope, for in Christ, hope never dies. When I got cancer, I realized how fragile this life really is and how our only true health and security comes through Christ alone.

    I will continue to pray for your earthly healing. God can do anything. In fact, the next time you get scanned, those buzzard tumors might be gone. Until then, know that you are loved and prayed for daily. Take care!

    Blessings,
    Michelle

  2. Dear Ryan,

    I came across your post because a friend in Vancouver posted it on her facebook page. I believe you and your family rented my Sunriver home last June. I recognized your name right away. I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I will say a prayer tonight for you and your family. I skied today with a dear friend who lost her 9 year old son to cancer last year. Her son was an artist and he drew many pictures of warrior angels, one of whom he named Heaven Warrior. Gage is now the Heaven Warrior and I know he is fighting for you.
    Lara James

    • Wow, how crazy is it Lara that it was right when we rented out that home that all of this stuff started! My wife and I were unable to go because we were getting ready for my surgery (to remove a benign tumor at the time)!

      Thank you so much for sharing about your friend. For a while doctors were concerned that my son Jones had lymphoma and it was a thousand times worse to think about than anything having to do with my own sickness. I can't even imagine what it's like to lose a child. Anyway, thanks again for sharing.
      peace.

  3. All that honesty has found a voice in your cancer; you are helping many hear and feel differently about such. Thank you. Hug your wife and children (and parents), please.

  4. Ryan, I am sorry. At the same time, I am so thankful for the witness your are bearing which is giving a picture of what hope in the midst of suffering looks like. Thank you for your faithfulness. You and your wife are in my prayers and the prayers of the Columbia Church of Christ.

  5. I don't know you but went through AIM with your sister Tara so I began to read your blogs. The bond of family in Christ goes much beyond having to meet one another so my heart aches for you and your family. You are such an encouragement and I thank you for sharing your story because it helps me to put things into perspective. You have a beautiful attitude and a beautiful spirit and I look forward to having a chat with you in heaven some day. Prayers are going up for you and your family. Thank you for your ministry, it is more far reaching than you realize.

  6. Ryan, Thank you for your words. Thank you for sharing in a time when it would be easy to pull away and be silent. It means so much to be connected to your heart. Your voice cuts through all of the noise and touches the deep places in my soul. I will continue to pray for you and yours. May the sun and beauty of the day offer a tangible sense of God's life-giving presence.

  7. http://www.ehealthandhealing.com/

    Ryan, I've been in touch with your mother in law, Pamela. We met online through a friend of hers. I too was diagnosed with stage 4 metaplastic carcinoma. It's a killer. I was literally eating me alive until I received a cancer vaccine made from isolated cells in my own blood. Follow the link to Dr. Catanzaro's site. On it, you'll find videos of people with all kinds of cancers, who experience remarkable results. I'm one of them, and I know all of the people in the videos. I'm praying for you. Kirsten

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