Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Welcome to the Fight Club

"So what you're telling me is that my brother has cancer?"

I needed clarification.  It's the question Michael had to answer for me five weeks ago when he called to tell me the news he'd only just received.

There was a small lump near his right clavicle bone, at the base of his neck.
He went to the doctor.
The doctor sent him for a CT scan.
The scan revealed a second mass near his heart.
Conclusive diagnosis: textbook Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

My younger brother, my only sibling, is 36 years old.  He's in the best physical condition of his life.  He's had no symptoms, nothing, to indicate he has cancer.  Except that suspicious lump.  Thank God for that lump.  Thank God he went to the doctor about that lump.

The news felt like a really, really painful kick in the stomach for me.  I can't even begin to fathom what it felt like for him or for his wife, Dana. 

But just like in any other situation my brother deals with, and according to his God-given personality, he picked himself up, rebounded from the news, and prepared himself to fight.

He's already had all the preliminary procedures: echocardiogram, bone marrow extraction, PET scan, and surgery for the chemo port.

Tomorrow is his first day of chemo.  He'll sit in a room for four hours while the poison chemo makes its way through his body.  He'll go through eight rounds before it's all said and done. 

A mutual friend, Caroline, a friend who's walked her own excruiating, yet victorious, journey through leukemia, sent my brother these words...
"Welcome to the club. 
The club that nobody wants to join."


Recently, many have asked me, "So, how's your brother?"

From the few conversations we've shared recently and even today, Michael is good.  He's still Michael.  Still loved by EVERYONE.  Still cracking jokes, making us laugh, like he always has.  Still light-hearted and still so incredibly charming. 

Understandably, he's also antsy and restless, especially since he was supposed to start chemo last week but couldn't because of all the ice and snow.  He's anxious to get the process going.  Ready to (officially) begin the fight. 

Proof of his postitive fighting spirit?  A text from Michael to my husband last month...

"With God's help, I'm going to beat this."

We believe he will.

So, yes, Michael is now a part of a club he never wanted to be a member of, but I believe there is another club to make mention of here.  A "fight club" of sorts.

It's one in which we, Michael's family and friends, join together for him, for Dana and for his three kids.
It's one in which we fight with him and for him.

And it's done through prayer.

Every time we lift them up.  Every time we bend our knees.  Or bow our heads.  Or petition the Father.  Or whisper Michael's name to the One who created him and knows him full well, we fight.

We fight for strength.
We fight for wellness.
We fight for joy.
We fight for endurance.
We fight for peace of mind.
We fight for mental clarity.
We fight for healing.
We fight for a miracle.

In this way, we help carry the burdens of my brother and sister-in-law, his soon-to-be caregiver, to the ultimate Burden-Bearer, our Strength and our Warrior.

As we pray unceasingly, we trust.  We trust God's very own words, His promise to fight.

I know Michael and Dana have been overwhelmed by the enormous outpouring of support since his diagnosis.  I know they are grateful. 

I'm not sure they (or any of us) could've imagined or predicted the high level of love and concern so many of you have shown them and the rest of our family this past month.

So, thank you. 

Many of you have walked similar roads yourselves or with someone you love very much. You've been a part of other fight clubs or had fight clubs supporting you. You know the drill. You know what to expect.

Thank you for your words.
Thank you for your prayers.
Thank you for showing you care.
In these ways, you've proved your membership, your place in this fight club. 
Thank you.

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