Thursday was Clay’s last treatment! He has been radiated 30 times in 6 short weeks and he took 42 chemo pills. The doctors did everything in their power to attack Clay’s tumor with the best medicine available. But, we know who is in control. We know that God’s plan will unfold. He has greatly used these doctors and technicians to make a difference in our lives and we are forever grateful to them. I feel like we’ve gained a whole new family in this process.
Here are a few of the magnificent people at Pennington. From right to left – Cathy, Natalie, Brittny (I think I spelled this right??) Raymond, and Mary. I will never forget these faces, and several others that are not pictured. From the minute we walked into the clinic on that Friday afternoon, when our plans had gotten crushed the day before, we have felt at home.
We loved Dr. Russell the minute we laid eyes on him. We just knew that he was the doctor God had chosen for us. Well, Dr. Gummadi actually selected him, but we knew God told Dr. Gummdi what to do. Ha! Speaking of Dr. Gummadi, he was working at the Bluebonnet hospital on Thursday and he came down to see Clay just before his last treatment. I’ll write another blog post one day just about the Gummadi’s. God used them in the most amazing way in our lives during this time. It is another very cool story that will give you goosebumps.
Let me back up just a little bit….I skipped the most important part – the food!
We had a little pre-treatment celebration over lunch at Randy Montalbano’s seafood. My mom and dad met us there because it is one of Clay’s favorite places to eat. If you have never been, you have to try it. The food was especially good that day…maybe because our son was the chef. Sam had to work, so he got to visit with us while we ate, but he couldn’t come to the treatment with us. Emily and I managed to convince him to take a selfie with us so we could remember that he was there for a while. Thank you, Diane, for treating us to this lunch. We had a great time being together.
When we arrived at Pennington, Clay’s mom was waiting for us. Clay’s parents have both had cancer, so they are familiar with this process. However, I can see how it would be completely different to watch your son walk through it. As a parent, we always want to take the difficulties from our kids, so I know that Clay’s parents would rather this be them. But, we are all trusting in God’s plan and believing that He knows what is best. This is Clay with his mom. Sweet.
We got to the treatment center early and they took us in because they had some room in the schedule. Our parents got to come in the room and see how everything works. The staff members are always so kind to our visitors. And, they are patient with all my picture taking! Many of them read the blog, so they know that I have to document everything so I can share it with all of you.
I love how Clay was literally surrounded by friends and family when he laid down for the last treatment.
Watch the video below. Listen as Natalie says, “It’s going on for the last time, Mr. Furlow.” And, notice the song in the background. There was a lot of commotion when we were walking in, so Clay said, “I’ll be fine to just listen to the Message. You don’t have to plug my phone in.” So, we get into the room…he’s laying down on that table…and of all the songs that the Message plays on a daily basis, listen to what was on! “You’re a good, good father. It’s who You are. And I’m loved by You. It’s who I am. You are perfect in all of your ways to us…” See, God is always with us. He is in every detail. Every single one. God really ministered to me through that song several weeks before Clay got sick and it has been special to me. So, God just decided to play it on the Message for us at exactly the time Clay’s treatment started.
Watching the technicians work, is amazing. I’ve been so inspired by all of them. They see their work as a ministry and they fully understand the importance of every detail. Their work has added significant time to Clay’s life, but more importantly, the way they have treated us and cared for us, has made a difference in my entire family. Sickness is hard. There is no way around it. But, when you are loved by your caregivers, it gets much easier to manage.
15 minutes passed quick and it was time to go get him.
And, because we have amazing support from our church family, there was a little welcoming party waiting for him outside the room!
The sign says, “Congratulations Mr. Clay” because it was made by the our kids Sunday School class at church. Imagine all those precious little children making that sign and praying for Clay. They are watching God do great miracles and it is inspiring their faith. Praise God.
It’s hard to put into words just how this picture makes me feel. I’ll just let you look at it and imagine how full our cup really is.
Below in the top row (and from the video) is Mike, one of the several nurses that took care of Clay the entire time. He was so cool. Always talking to us and the kids. Loving on us constantly. Making us feel special. I wish Deaton, Sarah and Liz Anne could have been there, too, to be in the pics today. We love you, all. And, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being so wonderful. On the second row of pics below, and all the way to the right, is Jewel. She worked in the office and took care of our insurance. She is very special. Look at that sweet smile!
This is the victory picture, right here…
It does really amaze me to see this and remember how much anxiety Clay had in the beginning regarding this mask. We laugh about the Xanex story all the time. (If you didn’t read that blog, you should go back and read it because it’s funny, but it’s also a really great thing that God taught us.) God gave Clay the strength to overcome that fear, and he grew to be totally comfortable in the mask. If we allow Him, God can turn our greatest fears into our greatest triumphs.
So, because of some really wonderful people, the day that we had dreaded for several weeks, came and went with celebration rather than tears. If we had been alone Thursday, we would have left that building feeling sad and afraid. But, we didn’t. God sent our family and friends to surround us so we would celebrate His love for us. He caused us to be reminded of Him. To keep our eyes on Him. Not the storm. Not the walls of water on either side. Him. Keep our eyes on Him. Because He is a good father. It’s who He is.
My favorite place in the entire world is the beach. God knows this. So, He provided a way for us to spend a few days at the beach before school starts. He used a very dear friend to bless us by offering a condo for the weekend. We didn’t have to think about it long! We said, YES! and jumped in the car.
It doesn’t get much better than this. I love these people.
So, before you leave, I have to just tell you a quick thing God showed me yesterday. He is so magnificent. Once we got settled at the condo, Clay laid down to sleep for a while and Ben was bouncing off the walls. So, Ben and I walked down to the beach. It had been overcast and rainy, but the sky was clear, so we went down. Ben was in the water and I was just sitting on the sand watching him and thanking God for letting me be in that moment. The sound of the waves can be an amazing stress reliever.
I’m kind of day dreaming, and suddenly I realize that there is a very dark storm approaching.
It’s hard to capture this with a camera, but I want you to see how there is sunshine to the far right and the storm was like a perfect line. There was such a clear distinction between the pleasant sky on the right and this dark storm on the left. It was a sudden change. When I looked to the left, all I could see for miles was dark clouds. I just knew we would have to go inside. Ben was skim boarding and having such a good time that I was planning to wait to the last second to make him go inside.
But the closer the storm got, the more I thought we might be able to just wait it out. So I stayed there. I was still. The wind really started to pick up. I was freezing. But, I just sat in my chair and leaned into the wind a little. It blew hard. It was uncomfortable, but I was able to stand it. Ben acted like nothing was happening. He just continued to play right in front of me. So, the wind blew. The waves were huge. The dark clouds surrounded us. The storm looked like it would last for hours. But we just waited.
And suddenly, the sky lightened up.
The storm moved past us. The wind calmed down. The air warmed up. The waves settled. And the sky was light again. And, once again, I was at peace. Listening to the sound of the waves, watching my happy little boy and resting in the peace.
Who can control the wind and the waves? I know who can. And yesterday afternoon, He spoke to me through the wind and waves. I felt like I was on an island. Like it was just me, God and Ben. I felt like God was literally visible. Like He was up there in that cloud so I could see Him. He was speaking so clearly.
When I looked up and suddenly saw that huge, dark cloud, with such a defined beginning, all I could think of was the day we were in Dr. Bruce’s office and he said, “Clay, you have significant abnormalities in your CT Scan.” What? Talk about a sudden storm. Everything changed in that moment. Our storm had a very defined edge. We went from sunny, beautiful weather, to an instant dark cloud.
Then, as the storm got closer, and I just sat there, I felt the Lord reminding me of how He has caused us to be still. We have been still this entire time. We have just waited on God to direct our steps and He has. The storm is not comfortable. The wind is cold and the waves are enormous. I would so much rather be sitting on a beach with perfect skies and a very light, warm breeze. But, God is helping us to endure this storm. We are leaning into the wind, but we are not getting blown away. In fact, we are not even getting rained on.
God was telling me that the storm will pass. As the sky cleared and the wind calmed, I could hear His voice saying, “The storm will pass.”
I was struck by the fact that Ben just played at the edge of the water the entire time. He was not affected by the storm. He didn’t even really notice it. I’m sitting there with tears running down my cheeks and he is just as happy as he can be. He has no idea that we could have been in danger from the storm, or that his day may have been interrupted by lightening. He just played and was content.
That was the Lord’s way of reassuring me that my kids are going to weather this storm with me. No matter what is ahead. No matter what the sunshine brings. They are going to weather this storm with me. They are not going to be adversely affected. I believe that.
After the storm passed, Clay, Sam and Grace joined us. We sat for a while and just talked and played. I watched my little family and thanked God for how He is with me in such a tangible way right now. I thanked Him for speaking to me in every moment. I thanked Him for making that storm today just to show me that OUR storm will pass. He moved the heavens for me today. And, look at this beautiful sight…..
That beautiful sky is exactly where that dark cloud was, just a short time before this picture was taken. Look at Clay’s scar – a constant reminder of what the Lord has done. We stood together and saw the sun shine again. I’m praying that Clay will be with me when this storm passes and our sun shines, again. I’m praying that we will be standing together to see it.
But, my trust is in a God who moves the clouds and the waves just for me.
So, I know He will be there. And I trust Him. Amen.