Fighting Fear with Faith and Hope

Bone.  Marrow.  Biopsy.

Three words I hoped I’d never hear again.  But that’s where we were on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at the UNC Cancer Hospital when Kelly’s blood work numbers came back askew.   Not all the numbers were bad.  In fact, all the numbers were in the normal range — except for the one number that really counts, his absolute neutrophils.  Neutrophils are white blood cells that fight off infection.  Kelly’s neutrophil number was 1, meaning he had about 1,000 of those cells to fight off infection in his body.  That’s a problem because normal absolute neutrophils will range from 1.8 to 7.7.  In July, his absolute neutrophil number was 4.2 — the best it’s been since he went into remission.  When he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, his neutrophil number was 0.

Neutrophils.jpgNeutrophils (The most abundant white blood cells in most mammals.)

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When we were discussing options, Dr. Foster looked at Kelly and said, “Another bone marrow biopsy is an option.  I know a biopsy is uncomfortable.”

Uncomfortable,” Kelly replied wryly.  “Is when your underwear rides up.  Bone marrow biopsies are excruciating.  But it’s the only way we’ll know for sure what’s going on, so let’s do it.”

So, this past Monday, two years, ten months, and 27 days from the first time he had a bone marrow biopsy, he lay on a gurney at the UNC Cancer Hospital having his sixth one.  He was face down, waiting patiently while Dr. Van (his other cancer doctor) was preparing the site where the needle would be inserted.  I was holding his hand and it just didn’t seem like it was enough, so I got on my knees by the gurney and laid my head next to his so that we could be face to face.

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We prayed.  We cried.  He gasped in pain as they numbed his hip.  Silent tears rolled down his cheeks as Dr. Van used three separate vials to aspirate marrow samples.

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It’s hard to watch the man who is your earthy rock go through so much pain.  It makes you feel so small.  And I remembered several scriptures and began to pray them:

 All you who put your hope in the Lord be strong and brave.  (Psalm 31:24, NCV)

Always respect the Lord.  Then you will have hope for the future, and your wishes will come true. (Proverbs 23:17b-18, NCV)

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)

Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times.  (Roman 12:12, NCV)

When I had no more words, I sang.

I sang “How Great is Our God*” by Chris Tomlin.

I sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness*.”

I sang “He is with Us*,” by Love and the Outcome.

I sang “Amazing Grace*,” which led into “Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone*,” by Chris Tomlin.

We were holding each other’s hands so tightly that our fingers were white.  So I poured out my tears, a language that only God truly understands.  And in near silence, Dr. Van continued to work.

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And Kelly broke the silence, not with a gasp of pain, but with these prayerful words, sung so softly that I might have missed it if I hadn’t been so close to him:

In seasons of despair and grief, my soul has often found relief… I’ll cast on Him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.*”

Almost immediately, Dr. Van said, “There is power in the Blood.  And I know that you both know that God has this — either way.”

I usually write something about weight loss on Wednesday — physical weight loss.  Today’s post is about losing the weight of a spiritual burden.  I took a great deal of fear with me into that procedure room, but I came out feeling light and full of hope.

What will the biopsy show?  We don’t know.  But we know God’s got this — either way.

*To listen to each song, just click on the title.  “Sweet Hour of Prayer” is sung by George Beverly Shea, who for years was the voice of the music at all the Billy Graham Crusades.  Kelly loves Billy Graham and loved to hear GBS sing.


22 thoughts on “Fighting Fear with Faith and Hope

  1. Hey sandy,
    Just read your post , I’m so sorry Kelly and your family have to go through this again. You are strong and with the Lord’s help you will get through this. Thinking of you all and sending my love.

  2. I’ve been praying for Kelly through this and I also have another friend going through leukemia now. She needs prayer too. Such an agonizing battle! But I lso know how God has healed people too. And I believe that through prayer we can help to beat this thing! Praying for you today!

    1. What is your friend’s name and I will add her to my prayer list. I believe in specific, bold prayer. Thank you for your support, my dear friend. Sandu

  3. Sandy…as I read this tears rolled down my face. First for the pain that Kelly was feeling as they were abstracting his bone marrow, then for the love that you two have for each other and then in that moment of no words came the worship. Goodness….such love for each other and love for our God. Praying for strength that only God can provide. And praising God for a good report. By his stripes you are healed Kelly, for he forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases. Blessings to you both.

  4. Prayers for both of you and your family! Not only do you and your family need Kelly WELL but, so do his students!!

  5. Thank you for posting this inspiring reflection of the past, the procedure and your faith. It was hard to read at times, as we hate knowing that our friends or family are ever going through so much pain;yet, your conveyance of the events are uplifting to know you two have so much faith and in this, we are all rewarded and Enlightened by your example. I have you both in my thoughts , heart and prayers.

    1. Your support means everything to us Dana. Friends truly are friends for life. Your words and forays help so much. Kelly and I love you! Sandy

  6. Prayers for Kelly, you, and your family. I know how difficult it is to wait, but I’m so thankful you have the peace that only a relationship with God can bring. Love, Cathy

  7. You are both in my prayers – I am sorry for the pain Kelly must go through, but I want you to know your article tonight gave me hope through my grief. God is so good and I put both of you into His care.

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  9. You both are in my prayers. I know God can and will heal Kelly and make him strong once again. You are his rock now. Stay strong and keep the faith.

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