I have been trying since the end of February to get a blog post written about everything we’ve learned in foster care training, the process since we finished training, and what the road ahead, foster-wise, looks like. But today I have to change the direction and leave the “February in a Flash” post in the drafts folder a bit longer. We need your prayers.
Yesterday Boyd was diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
To back up to the beginning, I’d been watching a mole on his back for about nine months. Something about it just wasn’t right. We had doctors look at the mole; each one said it looked fine and not to worry. But I couldn’t shake it. I know now it was the Lord and His grace & mercy putting that uneasiness in my heart about the mole. So I nagged. And nagged. And nagged some more. (Spare me “dripping faucet” quotes here, mkay?) Each time I looked at his back, I asked when was he going to the doctor again.
Finally, at the end of February, Boyd went for his physical required by foster care. He got our doctor to look at his back. She said it looked fine but would set him up with a dermatologist anyway. A week later he went to the dermatologist. She looked at the mole and said it looked perfectly fine, but since it was on his back where he couldn’t see it, she would cut it off anyway. She removed the mole and told him if he didn’t hear from them, everything was fine.
Three weeks passed with no contact from Ochsner. Then yesterday morning, the phone rang. The lady on the other end told me she needed to speak with Boyd, and she was from the dermatologist’s office. I told her to call his cell because he wasn’t home, then immediately hung up and texted him to make sure to answer his phone because it would be Ochsner calling.
About half an hour later, he walked in the door and one look at his face told me it was bad. “They said it’s melanoma.” And he broke down. I broke down. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen Boyd cry in my life. He’s just not a crier. We stood there for a while, soaking in the news. I prayed in my head, words that ran together and made no sense and I just trusted the Lord to read my heart and the Holy Spirit to speak in my inability to do so.
Finally we called our pastor, who mourned and prayed with us over the speaker phone, and said he would call upon the staff & elders of the church to begin interceding on Boyd’s behalf. Then Boyd wanted some time alone to read and pray (though Sara wouldn’t leave his side) so I made the calls to let his parents & my parents know what had happened.
Within a little over an hour Chad (our pastor) was at our house to lay hands on Boyd and pray for him and our family and build us up with Scripture. Family members were calling, emailing, grieving with us. The members of our church family who had been informed sent texts & messages of support & encouragement. Even Chad’s wife, who was in another state at a conference for adoptive mamas, sent texts of encouragement & support (and has continued to do so ever since she heard the news, even all throughout the day today). We shared the news with our closest friends in our homeschool group, coveting prayer. The amount of love poured out to us was astounding.
We were very upset, not just because of the diagnosis, but because the office said they would call him in the morning (which would have been this morning) to schedule an appointment, but it would probably be towards the end of March, early April before they could get him in. Boyd’s response to them was, “You just told me I have a highly aggressive form of cancer, and now you’re saying you can’t see me until the end of the month? Something doesn’t add up.”
And then there was one other factor: India. Boyd leaves next Friday with a team from our church to go to India. I won’t go into details of all the crazy things that have happened to the team members since this trip was planned, but suffice it to say, the devil does not want this team in India. We are ALL expecting God to move in mighty ways based on the amount of spiritual warfare different members of the team have encountered leading up to the trip. And so we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that getting this news thisclose to when he leaves for India was just one more heaping of spiritual warfare on the already full plate.
Yesterday was hard, one of the hardest days of my life. Not knowing the extent of the melanoma, not knowing what the next step should be… it was so hard. I didn’t know what to pray. I prayed for complete healing. I prayed for there to be no cancer remaining in his body. I prayed for the Lord to contain the cancer to one spot if there was any in his body. I prayed that His will be done in all things. To the praise and glory of God, He gave me such a supreme peace that He was in control, that this did not surprise Him in the least, and that we could trust in Him because He has victory over sin, disease, and death. He reigns eternal.
After I talked with my mom yesterday, she immediately called her dermatologist to ask him about Boyd’s diagnosis. He personally called her back last night and shared some good information with her, and then asked if we could fax him a copy of the pathology report for him to look at. Once he got the pathology report, he could tell us what stage the melanoma was at and where we should go from here. He also knows many dermatologists here in New Orleans and could recommend a good one for Boyd’s continuing care.
We didn’t sleep too much last night (obviously), both of us waking up at different times in fits of worry, both of us having to be individually comforted by the Lord to just remember to turn it over to Him. Boyd got up early this morning and headed over to the clinic to pick up his pathology report. He brought it back and immediately sent it to my mom’s doctor. During that same time, my mother-in-law was at her biannual appointment with her oncologist from when she had cancer several years ago(thank You, LORD, for placing these two doctors in our lives at this time!) who also asked to see the pathology. So Boyd faxed it to him, too, and we waited. In the meantime, Ochsner set Boyd up for a consultation on March 14th – the day before he leaves for India.
We heard from Dr. Nickelson (my mother-in-law’s oncologist) first. He said the pathology looked good, that the tumor was small and he didn’t see any reason why Boyd wouldn’t make a full recovery. Then later this afternoon, we heard from Dr. Altick (my mother’s dermatologist). He said we caught it as early as we possibly could. It is in Stage I, so it is cancer. But the tumor is very small, only 0.4MM, there’s no bleeding in the tumor, and there is only radial spreading into the normal tissue, not vertical spreading. This is huge, because it is when melanoma spreads vertically – down to the lower layers of the dermis – when things start to get really scary. Dr. Altick said that they would do surgery on Boyd’s back to remove the affected tissue, but the good news is that the dermatologist at Ochsner actually removed quite a bit more than is normally done with a mole removal. Normally they just scrape the mole off and that’s it, but she took out a good bit of skin around the mole itself, which in this case is good since there was radial spreading of the cancer. And to add more good news to that, Dr. Altick said the timing of his appointments was normal, that even if he were at MD Anderson, the timing would remain roughly the same. He said that Boyd’s going to India is actually a blessing because it helped get his appointment moved up sooner than they normally schedule them, which means he’ll consult and move to surgery sooner than what normally happens. As of right now, it looks like he won’t have to do any kind of chemo or radiation. Surgery should be enough to take care of all the cancer.
Spiritual hindsight is 20/20, and I can see the Lord’s hands all over this. I feel like all I can do is praise right now, offer praise for the undeserved grace and favor received in this situation. He is TRULY in control.
But this journey is far from over, and I write this to ask for your prayers.
- I’m pleading with you to pray for Boyd’s protection while in India. Please pray that the cancer will not spread any while he is gone. I know it is a short-term trip, and that the timing of everything is standard, but we covet the prayers nonetheless. Our trust is in the Lord. We know, we know, we know, WE KNOW he is supposed to be on this trip, and because of that we are trusting in God to take care of him while he is gone.
- Please pray that he will be able to schedule his surgery immediately after his return. Melanoma is a scary disease because of how aggressive and fast-moving it is. It is reassuring to hear from the dermatologists that the timing is fine, but we don’t know how much is left in his body, and obviously the sooner it is out, the better!
- Please pray that the cancer has not spread to anywhere else in his body. This is very, very unlikely, but with melanoma it is something I am adding to the prayer request list.
- Please pray for their trip and the people in India. I wish I had the hours and words to give you all the confirmations of everything God has done and is doing to make this trip happen. During their stay the team will spend some time at the orphanage and then travel around to the villages to the pastors. Earlier this year, Babu asked for money to buy some water buffalo & build a stable for them. The goal between our church and another church that regularly supports Babu was to raise enough for the shelter & 10 buffaloes. It is to the praise & glory of God that enough money has been raised to build the shelter and buy thirteen buffaloes!!! God’s hand is moving in southern India, in ways that can only be attributed to His power and glory!
I think one question that’s probably hanging around people’s heads is, “How will this affect our foster care application?” To be honest, right now I don’t know, and I don’t think that’s something we’ll know till we have more information about his surgery, recovery, and prognosis. I haven’t told our home development worker yet, mainly because we just got the good news this afternoon, but I will call her on Monday and fill her in on what has happened. Our HDW is a Christian and I know she will be praying alongside us for his protection and recovery.
Thank you for reading to the bottom of this, and please, please lift Boyd up in prayer!
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26