Clay was diagnosed on May 2 of this year, so it’s been a little over six months. In that time, he has had radiation, chemotherapy, lots of different medicine, and surgery. Yet, he has maintained a really positive attitude and he has had very limited side effects. He looks really good. He hasn’t been sick at his stomach (except for twice) so he hasn’t lost a lot of weight. In fact, he’s gained 10 pounds. He lost his hair, but that didn’t matter! We’ve watched so many others in the same situation who have suffered so much.
His main side effect has been fatigue. He tires very easily, so he needs more rest than usual. His taste buds don’t work very well, so he can only taste foods with really strong flavor. His voice is weakened and he constantly sounds like he is hoarse. It doesn’t hurt, but he sounds like he has a sore throat all the time. He has sporadic joint pain and occasional mild headaches.
We have thanked God so many times that He has made the burden light.
That changed a little when we found out this week that Clay has shingles. It started as a small bump above his left eye. The bump kept growing until Thursday am when he woke up with whelps on his forehead and a swollen eyelid. We were on our way to the Oncologist for an infusion, anyway. They gave him some antibiotics through his IV and just told us to watch it.
By 7:30 that night his eye was almost swollen shut and it was starting to hurt pretty bad. I am so thankful for the precious people God has added to our lives through our church. One of those is a dear friend who is also a dermatologist. He answered my text immediately and, after seeing a picture of it, he told me it is shingles. We started the meds that night. He also gave us pain meds that helped a lot.
Clay was pretty uncomfortable all day Friday, but every time he would talk about it, he would say, “I haven’t had to deal with anything this hard so far. I’m really blessed that I went so long without major problems.”
I would just smile at him. It is true, but I think it is a huge testimony that he can keep that perspective. You know how sometimes it is hard to see the reality of your situation when you are right in the middle of it? Well, God has enabled him to see the truth about where he is and I’m so glad. Because, it is true. In the midst of a very difficult situation, God has kept him well and has blessed him with strength.
Thank you, Lord.
And, knowing that fact, made this week a lot easier for both of us. It hasn’t been fun, but the Lord helped us through. He is still recovering today. In fact, we are watching church from home today. I love that we can do that.
So, as far as the plan, we are continuing to do what we’ve already been doing. Clay will stay on the Temodar (chemo pill) one week out of each month. He will continue to have the Avastin infusions every two weeks. We’ve been told that he will remain on these medications as long as they are working. I thought the Temodar was limited to 6 months, but the Oncologist told me he will stay on it as long as the tumor is not growing.
We have a scheduled MRI on Monday, December 5. Sometimes it feels like we live from scan to scan. But, I just do my best to take my thoughts captive and stay right here in the moment. I don’t want to spend my time worrying or living in fear of what tomorrow holds. It is so much better to live for today and enjoy what God has given us. His grace is sufficient for today. And His grace will be waiting for me when tomorrow comes.
At times, I feel like our lives revolve around doctor visits and treatment times. But, then I look back through my Photos on my phone and I realize how much we are still living this life and enjoying time with our friends and family. Here are a few highlights from the past several weeks…
Clay’s niece, Ali Furlow, asked him to escort her in her homecoming court for Walker High. It was so sweet. Clay’s nieces and nephews really love him and Ali wanted him to be part of this special night. She has a wonderful dad, who was excited that she asked Clay to walk in his place. So, it turned into a big family event.
And, Walker was playing Live Oak, so we got to watch Clay’s cousin’s son, Ryan Morris, play QB for Live Oak. He’s been wearing his “Pray for Clay” bracelet in every game this year. It was great to watch him play that night.
When they announced Ali and Clay, Ali asked the announcer to read James 5:16,
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
It was a very special moment for all of us.
We saw lots of good friends, including Don from Dr. Russell’s office! Clay was especially excited to see a long-time friend, Angel Benedetti. They got to visit for a while.
Grace went to homecoming. Clay could barely stand to let her leave. She was quite beautiful. He wanted to go with her to make sure that no boys talked to her all night! Poor Grace.
We got in a car accident. Someone rear ended us on the Interstate. No one was hurt. And, guess what we were doing???
We had just been to Krispie Kreme donuts. This picture is not from the same night, which makes it even more funny to me. We’ve visited Plank Road wayyy too many times lately. He absolutely craves them and it is very hard for me to tell him no. It’s even harder for me not to eat them when the aroma fills up the car because they are so hot you can barely touch them. I mean, seriously, how can they be so good? It’s just wrong.
Clay’s love for these sugary delights is starting to show. He has gained 10 pounds! Now, when I gain 10 pounds, no one says a word (which I prefer, believe me.) When Clay gains 10 pounds, everyone makes a comment. It’s so funny. Several people have walked right up to him and said, “Well, you are putting on some pounds, huh?!” He just smiles and says, “It’s the Krispie Kreme!”
We always look for opportunities to enjoy family time. I’m sure that, at some point in your life, you’ve probably considered how a diagnosis like this would change you and how it would change what you do with your time. Well, we are living that out right now. And, I can promise you…it changes everything. Every moment is important to us. Every opportunity to be together or be with our kids or be with our parents or be with friends. The little things become highly valued, like Ben just wanting to lay with Clay in the bed for a few minutes.
Every moment becomes important.
I rarely leave Clay, but Grace and I did sneak away for some girl time, recently. All the girls in my family (that live in BR) went to the Vintage Market Days craft show in Amite, LA. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time shopping and being with the girls.
Clay always enjoys visits from friends who just want to spend time with him. Caleb brought him Albasha (one of his favorites because he can taste the really strong flavors.) It’s not the best picture, but it’s a good memory for me. My dad showed up and we all visited for a while.
I continue to feel very loved by so many of you. You text me, call me, hug me, pray for me, visit me, read my blog, send me cards, and so much more. I’m amazed at how many wonderful people God has placed in my life. Almost every time I am having a difficult moment, or I need some encouragement, my phone goes off with a text or call from someone just letting me know they love me and are praying for me. God is so sweet to always send the encouragement I need.
I love you. I love that my family is surrounded by people who love us. I pray that God will richly bless every single one of you. I pray that God is using our situation to work in your life. To keep you grounded or to bring you closer to Him. He is a wonderful Savior and Friend. I hope you draw near to Him today. Love you, Kristy.