Yesterday was Clay’s simulation at the Pennington Cancer Center. It was all very interesting to see. The Technician called me on Tuesday to tell me that I could bring whoever wanted to see the process. So, Sam and Grace decided to come along and watch. The process starts with getting Clay comfortable on the table. They make a mask out of a plastic sheet. They heat the plastic for several minutes before applying it to Clay’s face. The plastic becomes pliable and it stretches over his head so they can mold it. Then it cools down quickly and becomes hard again. The purpose of the mask it to hold him still for the radiation treatments. If you are claustrophobic, go ahead and start freaking out about now. Watch this video:
I’m not sure why the sound is so bad. Anyway, that’s how the mask gets made. Well, Clay got hot. They had covered him with a warm sheet, then the mask was hot, then they stretched it across his face for several minutes until it cooled down, then….we ALL left the room. That was enough to push him over the edge and he had a mild panic moment. We had walked out into the waiting area just while they scanned him and I saw the technicians running back in the room. I knew something had gone wrong. Within just a minute, they called for me to come back in there. He had panicked and they had to take the mask off. He just looked at me and the kids like he was very glad to see us. Press play on this song so you can listen to it while you read the rest of the blog.
Of course I got emotional when I saw him on the table. There has not been anything we’ve dealt with that has been easy, but when Clay is strong and in good spirits, things are so much easier. The hardest moments for me have been the times when he has been sick, in pain, or in fear. This was one of those moments. So, it caused a bit of a scene. There were 2 Technicians, 1 Nurse and 1 Doctor, plus the 3 of us. He was calming down and I knew they needed to put the mask back on to do the scan. So, I asked them if they minded if we prayed. They politely agreed. I just leaned down, kissed him on his cheek and prayed over him. Grace was on my left, holding my hand, and Sam was on my right with his head on my shoulder. We prayed together and asked the Lord to comfort him and give him the peace he needed in order to finish the task. We said “Amen,” they snapped the mask back in place and he went back into the machine. He did great. We were back in the room with him in less than 6 minutes.
And, here is the finished product:
His eyes look a bit droopy, but it’s just a bad pic. He was actually smiling very big and rejoicing that this step was over. The entire staff was so nice to us and I am praying that the Lord blessed them today while they got to see his reaction to a difficult moment. I believe with all my heart that God is in every moment of this time with us. He has never left us and never forsaken us. When bad things happen, I always try to figure out how He used us in the moment. He always does.
Dr. Russell let us know that we won’t start treatment until June 20. He is going to create the treatment plan, and then he wants the doctor at Duke University to review it before we start. This is amazing to me. God is so faithful in the little things. But, I was still a little bothered by the wait. You know, we were supposed to start treatment at MDA this past Monday. So, today would have already been his 4th treatment. God knew that my heart was worried a little about the delay. So, later in the day, my cell phone rang. Guess who it was? Dr. Cataldo. If you don’t remember, he is the Oncologist that referred us to MDA in the first place. I honestly don’t know if we would have gotten there if he had not referred us. And, a dear friend of ours, Jeff Morris, was specifically praying that Dr. Cataldo would come see us at exactly the time when he walked in our hospital room. So, we know for sure that God sent him to us. Well, God used him again today. I needed to be comforted, so he called me. He told me that he prefers to wait at least 5 weeks from surgery before starting any treatment. The 20th will be almost exactly 5 weeks. Thank you, Jesus. He just calmed my heart and I let go of any worry in that very moment.
When we left Pennington, we went to Sam’s Club. Funny little side bar. I had to add the word “Club” so you would not think I was talking about my Sam. When he was little, he thought he owned Sam’s Club. We would say, “Let’s go to Sam’s!” and he just thought that meant it was his store! Man, I wish. Ok, back to our day. We had ordered some things from Sam’s, so we went to pick them up and got some fresh veggies for our juicer. When we got home with our supplies, my sweet friend, Janelle, was cleaning my house. Now, she really doesn’t want me to do this, but I love her too much not to tell you how much she has blessed my life.
Janelle cleaned my house for at least 5 years while I worked full time. When the Lord told me that I was going to leave my career, Janelle was one of the first 2 people I thought of. (Callie was the other!) I just couldn’t imagine telling Janelle that I couldn’t pay her to clean my house any longer. Maybe the anxiety was more about the fact that I would have to start cleaning my house all by myself, but either way, I was so sad that she would not be a regular part of my life anymore. Well, as soon as she heard about Clay’s diagnosis, she was right back at my front door. She’s been helping me keep this crazy house up, ever since. I was overcome with emotion when she told me she was planning to do this for me. I felt so silly to be crying over house keeping, but this is what I told her, “Janelle, I feel like I have limited time and the last thing I want to spend my time doing right now is cleaning a stupid bath tub!” She totally anticipated that and understood and she has been an angel to me. She is part of our family, really. We’ve had so many sweet talks about the Lord over the years and yesterday we talked for over an hour about what He’s been doing in our lives lately. I love you, Janelle. You are a dear friend and the love you are demonstrating to me right now is something I will NEVER forget.
Hit play on this next song while you finish reading. I’ll tell you why later…
After we rested a while, we were able to go enjoy Grace’s first Summer league volleyball game. I could write an entire blog post about Grace’s volleyball coaches and her team. They’ve been so wonderful to Grace while we’ve walked through this time. And, returning to practice was such a great thing for Grace. The feeling of something normal has done a lot for her. We got to watch two games and it was so awesome to see her back on the court. Clay’s vision is still not great, so I had to update him on the score and a few other things throughout the night, but he really enjoyed watching the team.
We were sitting in the stands, watching the game, and I saw this girl walking through the gym with a “Pray for Clay” shirt on. I just saw her from behind, so I wasn’t sure who it was. The first thought I had was, “Aw! Look. Someone is wearing a Pray for Clay shirt.” And, then I suddenly felt this overwhelming emotion and I wanted to bust out into tears right there. Sometimes I just can’t believe that my husband’s name is on a shirt, or a bracelet, or a blog. This just can’t be real. So many times in my past, I have seen shirts like that, or bracelets that remind people to pray, and I’ve felt so sorry for people walking through a difficult situation. But, now it’s me. Huh? Sometimes it is just weird, y’all. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real. Then, the reality suddenly slaps me in the face. The good news is that someone is wearing our shirt. So many people are wearing the bracelet. And, that reminds me that so many people are praying for us. We truly need a miracle. And, people are constantly asking God to perform one on our behalf. Thank you. Thank you for the support. We were surrounded by friends and love last night while we watched our girl.
We came home from the ballgame and had the most delicious dinner waiting on us. Our church family has been feeding us for a while. I can’t tell you the load it has taken off of me. I don’t have to think about food, or grocery shopping, or cleaning my kitchen. And, the best part is the visits that happen when the food gets delivered. We love you, church family and friends, for doing this for us!
Today, we met the Oncologist, Dr. McCanless. We had to schedule a training visit for the chemotherapy. The chemo drug is called Temodar and it is a very standard drug for Clay’s condition. It is a pill and we will administer it at home. The doctor has to order it for us, then we will meet with a Nurse Practitioner to learn how to take it properly. We are told that the side effects are generally mild. Some nausea and fatigue are the most likely effects.
When we left the Oncologist’s office, we did something REALLY normal. We had a meeting with one of Clay’s clients! He was back in the office and we were working as a team. It’s a good thing we like each other. Ha! He still can’t drive and his vision challenges make it hard for him to read a lot. But, his long term memory is perfect and he is still able to talk about mutual funds and financial planning! So, we met with a long time client and worked together to meet her needs. It was good to see Clay doing what he is so good at. And, he actually liked having my help, so it looks like we’ll make a good team. He may not like me anymore when I put on my “Sales Manager hat” and start critiquing him, but we’ll save that for a later post. (I’m kidding, of course. And, for those who don’t know, I was a Sales Manager for many years and just retired one year ago.)
He’s pretty cute, isn’t he??? The Oncologist just kept saying, “Wow. You look really good for a guy who just had brain surgery!” He said it several times.
We also got to go watch our youngest son play basketball tonight. Clay helped coach their team during the school year, so all the boys really love him. Every time they huddle, instead of saying “Win” or “Go Warriors” they say “Play for Clay!” When Clay heard that tonight, he had to fight back some tears. It is so sweet. I could tell by the way a few of the boys looked at him, that they are really concerned and they really love him. It is very touching. They didn’t win for Clay, but they sure did play for Clay. They played hard. Clay really enjoyed being there and getting to watch them.
Their coach, and our friend, Josh Harrouch, is even growing a beard in honor of Clay’s hairy face. Either that, or he’s just lazy. I’m not sure which one! We love you, Josh.
So, why did I ask you to play the songs “Praise the Lord” and “Through It All” while you read this post? On the way home from our volleyball game last night, Clay was telling my parents about his panic moment (he won’t let me refer to it as a panic attack) and he was talking about how he calms himself down. He has 3 “go to” songs that he sings when he needs to encourage himself in the Lord and calm down. Praise the Lord, Victory In Jesus, and Through It All. He has been listening to old hymns and some classic Christian songs lately. We’ve had several little church services in our kitchen or in our bedroom as he blares the gospel music. I’ll come in the room and find him sitting in his chair with his eyes closed and tears just streaming down his face as he listens. When I listen to the lyrics of many of those old songs, I know that those writers walked through a difficulty similar to ours. Otherwise, you can’t write those words. It is similar to how I feel about David’s Psalms. They are heart felt and written from a place of experience. If you are walking in a difficult time, right now, listen to Christian music. Good Christian music. Let the lyrics minister to you and let it help you focus your thoughts on the goodness of God. It is just amazing to see how real God’s presence is when you truly need Him. We definitely need Him and we are Praising Him and thanking Him tonight for all the things He is doing in and through us. He is such a good God. Praise the Lord tonight. We love you!