Okay, so…this weekend marked an interesting anniversary for me. It was a year ago on Saturday, that Dr. Lawrence Einhorn came into Keith’s room at the IU hospital in Indianapolis and announced that the stem cell transplant had worked, and Keith was cancer-free. Here’s the entry from that day from my book, The Journey:
So, Keith had the CT scan at 9 am today. At 11 am I was out getting him some ice and saw Dr. Einhorn in the hall. That is unusual, as he usually isn’t on the unit except on Mondays. As I was going back to the room, I saw him coming toward Keith’s room, and my blood went a little cold. He came into the room, smiled, and said, “I’ve got good news for you. The CT scan came out completely normal!” We all cheered and jumped up and down (okay, I jumped up and down, Dr. Einhorn didn’t.) He said that the scan was so clear that Keith didn’t even need a followup PET scan, and that he could do follow up visits at home. He doesn’t need to see Keith back here for 6 months! Then I said, “So you are saying that it worked?” He smiled and said, “Yes, it did. I told you that the cure rate for this was 90%.” Keith said, “Yes but up til now I’ve fallen into that 10%!” Not this time, woo-hoo! We were thrilled that he came to tell us himself. To get that news from Dr. Einhorn was the best gift we could have received!
His counts are still low, but starting to move a little. His white count is at .5 (was at .3 yesterday). Since he didn’t take a big jump, it looks like he will be in the hospital through the weekend. We’ll get to watch the super bowl on the little hospital TV. That’s okay, though. The news from today certainly made up for that! Then SOMETIME next week we will be headed south! And we are ready!!
I have to tell you, there is no way in the world we could ever thank all of you for your prayers, emails and support. I am completely in awe of the number of people who are praying for Keith around the country and even around the world. We got a letter yesterday from a church in Gulfport, Mississippi. It was a letter from their prayer ministry letting us know that they had prayed for Keith last Wednesday night, and then had the signatures of all the people that prayed for him. I have no idea how they got Keith’s name or if we even know anyone at that church, but they took the time to pray for Keith, and that is so incredible. This particular segment of our journey has really taught me a lot about prayer.
This time around, the passages of scripture that I have clung to are Jeremiah 29:11 and Isaiah 43:1-2. The other night I was reading the full 43rd chapter, and the last verse has been what I have carried with me the past few days: “Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?” We are blessed and thankful.
I have often had people ask how I deal with the fact that Keith was pronounced “cured” by the medical community three times during his cancer journey. When I look back on it, I realize that it was those glimpses of hope that kept us moving through the rough, rough treatments. I think that’s what you do through any illness. You keep moving and trusting God as He lights up the next step.
However, I guess if I am honest, the mere fact that I remember this anniversary means that it bothers me a little. But when I look back on it, and the events that have transpired since then, I know that God was working all things together. At the time, all I could see was the illness and the potential healing. But God was at work doing other things, and one of those things has been in the works and came to fruition this past week.
One of the men that Keith met as he was going through treatment in Indy was a young man named Doug Franklin. Doug was going through the BEP chemo, and several days he and Keith were in the “chairs” together receiving the treatment. Doug’s cancer was similar to Keith’s, in that it started with a large abdominal mass. He was still facing the RPLND surgery that Keith had already had, so they talked a lot about that.
Then the conversation turned to their faith and ministry. Doug is an architect, and a volunteer youth minister at his church. He is responsible for organizing and planning the mission trips for their youth group every year. He and Keith talked about mission trips, Keith’s love of the Navajo people, and our Samoset Mission Center here in Bradenton.
Well, to shorten a long story, Doug is now cancer free, and is bringing a group of 40 students and adults this July to work in Samoset. It is amazing how God has worked out all of the details, and I believe that God is at work within the story to bring life change to a lot of students. It helps me make sense of all those difficult days last winter.
There are a lot of things going on in my life right now. I wish desperately that Keith was here to be a part of them all, but the one thing I know is that just as Is. 43 says, “No one can deliver out of my hand.” I am in God’s hand, and He is orchestrating the details of my life. It is a wonderful, safe place to be, and my goal is to keep my eyes on Him and keep walking through the doors that He is opening.
I love the book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. A recent entry said this: “I am with you and for you. You face nothing alone-nothing! When you feel anxious, you are focusing on the visible world and leaving me out of the picture. The remedy is simple: fix your eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.”
2 Corinthians 4 :18 says “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” Keith was able to focus during those days of illness on the eternal things that God was doing. He did not focus on his circumstances, but looked for ways to serve God through them. Because he did, I believe a lot of lives will be affected for the kingdom this summer!
May we do the same…don’t focus on circumstances, but on the power and the love of our Father who is at work in you!
Blessings, my friends!
Sybil Smith said:
Leann, I have not = nor will I forget you (poor sentence). Had to tell you the
timeliness of God’s work. I was sitting here at my computer waiting for word
from our 21 year old granddaughter who is awaiting cardia ablation in B’ham.
Lorilyn is a Sr. at Montevallo, talented musician focusing on the flute. Has
had many ‘physical happenings’ in her life that have formed her into a lovely
Christian witness. Heart rate reached 255 and surgery was mandatory. The
verse you gave at the end of your article just filled the bill for me as I await
a call to say all is well.
Please know it was not just Keith I loved. When you pray for a family as often
as I was, and am, privileged to pray for your’s – you just fall in love with them.
May God bless you on your continued journey to carry on the work He has
for you. Praying to that end with love.
Joyce Tucker said:
How good to see your words and hear from you. You have no idea how many times you and your family come to mind. Sometimes I just pick up The Journey and read when I get lonesome to hear from the Martins. Love you and thanks for continuing to share your journey. What an awesome tribute to you and Keith’s willingness to never give up the kingdom’s work.
annette mcleod said:
One highly respected neurologist told me that Sarah Grace had a kink in her spinal cord and that we should wait and see what happens, He was not aware that emergency brain surgery was planned already, I had to tell him if he waited she would become paraplegic or die. All this to say, I am still bothered by his words, and yet like you I see God’s hand in that conversation. This doctor later told me he would now listen to a mother’s concerns more closely , I was able to hear a story from a mom who was Blessed by this same Dr. who helped her child overcome a dangerous situation. Sometimes I think Satan wants me to dwell on these Doctors and it is my Faith and People like you who freely share their “God Stories” that help me keep my eyes on HIM the true Father of us all! I love you LeeAnn!
I remember the choir celebrating Dr. E’s words with a very special card made by Jan M. so Keith could keep those words in front of him always…..but….God is bigger and His purpose is greater. Keith was used to reach so many more lives than we could ever imagine. We are still on your journey with you, and will be praying for you, Josh and Bethany.
Jim, Lisa, and Olivia said:
I was so glad to see your new blog. You will never know how much your blog helps other people. It had been so long I was afraid you had decided to stop blogging. I just finished your book. It was sad, yet strengthening to my spirit to read again the journey your family went through and the faith in a loving God, who walked every step with you. I know that all who read it will be strengthened also. You are continually in our prayers.
Unworthy but His,
The Stepp family, Jim, Lisa, and Olivia
We are testing…already read this treasure…
Joyce Tucker said:
I had not read this comment. Who is testing?
After study just a few of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your mehotd of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website checklist and will probably be checking again soon. Pls check out my web site as nicely and let me know what you think.