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  • Writer's pictureJenny Dunaway

You Don't Look Sick

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

"You don't look sick." are four words, when combined, can cause anger and frustration to a blood cancer patient. The person speaking those words truly means well. They intend it as a compliment--that the person appears to be okay. However, it is received quite differently.

My husband Michael has been battling multiple myeloma for 13 years, now. He has endured countless different treatments, some established and some newly developed immunotherapies. He would stay on a treatment until his myeloma numbers started to rise. The latest treatment that he had not yet tried would be prescribed by his oncologist. Some drug, plus another drug, plus dex, always dex. (Dexamethasone turns my husband into a monster, as many caregivers know well. It is the devil!)

After Michael had to have a partial hip replacement because his myeloma had devoured the inside of his femur, we knew a new treatment would probably be the next step. His doctor ordered a bone marrow biopsy but the results on the portal were hard to decipher. I knew they didn't look good. The same day the results came back, the doctor's office called and told us we had an appointment that Friday--it wasn't previously scheduled. Both of us knew this wasn't going to be an ordinary appointment. Michael's anxiety went through the roof. I tried to be positive saying that the biopsy results probably confirmed which treatment Michael needed to begin and the doctor didn't want to waste time.

Kevin, Michael's PA, walked into the room with Dr. Mann who is the head of the myeloma department at VCU. Both men sat down and thoughtfully gave us Michael's options. The better of the two treatment possibilities was CAR T-Cell Therapy. It's actually a treatment we had been looking forward to trying once it was available for myeloma. Imagine, no cancer treatment for potentially years! Now that it was a reality, we really hadn't prepared ourselves mentally for what CAR T-Cell Therapy involved. We both were a little stunned when we left the office. We had a nice lunch a Olive Garden and talked about what we needed to do to get ready for being away from home for an extended period of time.

Both of us have a lot of things on our to-do lists. Michael wants to finish adding lights to his new lawn mower and I have a hundred and one tasks that need my attention. With my friend Sherry's help, I got most of my worries at my house resolved. I am truly blessed with dear friends. There is SO much to do--it's hard to know where to begin.

After putting the flowers in the parish hall at church, I decided to go to church instead of going home to check on Michael. Even though he had been very nauseous for three days, he was sleeping and would be fine until I returned. Then I realized that I need to begin where I always should begin, prayer. I had been so caught up in the remodeling of my house and the stress surrounding the new treatment that I had forgotten the most important thing. The Lord has brought us this far and He will walk with us down this new path, too.

Megan used Genesis 18:1-15, one of my favorite Old Testament stories, in her sermon. God said, "Is anything too hard for the Lord." when Sarah laughed at the idea of having a child at her age. Sarah denied laughing because she was afraid that she had offended Him. But our Lord has a wonderful sense of humor. "No, you did laugh," He probably said with a smile. Is anything too hard for the Lord? I believe that all things are possible with God. Curing an incurable blood cancer? Yes, it IS possible! Why limit my prayers to giving him more time when I could be praying for God's complete healing. My breath prayer will be, "Lord Jesus, Heal Michael." The Lord tells us to prayer without ceasing so I will strive to pray this prayer as many times a day as I can.

The next time someone says to him, "You don't look sick." I will thank the Lord for His mercy and healing. I will believe that he is being healed by My Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Most importantly, I will speak it aloud, " The Lord is healing Michael."

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