We all know how precious life is. It’s definitely reinforced when you receive the cancer diagnosis.
My husband and I have four children. One son is married and they just had a beautiful little girl in March (our first grandchild), one son is working in St. Louis, one daughter is a junior in college, and our last daughter is a junior in high school. I’m about 5 years from retiring from teaching. There is so much living to do!
Out of the blue, with only one indication, I was diagnosed with 3b colon cancer on December 16, 2021. I was immediately referred for surgery to remove the ascending part of the colon and also most of the rest of it due to colitis (which I had never had a single symptom of or any pain indicating a problem). A few lymph nodes were also found containing the cancer so full on chemotherapy was scheduled to begin February 14, 2022 (Happy Valentines Day). I wanted to find an alternative treatment but could find nothing that was in the states in our searches so we consented to starting traditional chemo. I was told I could most likely continue with daily routines and teaching my precious group of second graders. What we quickly discovered was that about every side effect of chemo was present for me. Severe neuropathy began, along with an aversion to anything metal and cold. I had to use a towel or hotpad just to open the refrigerator. Then it became difficult to tolerate anything cold and I began to lose a significant amount of weight every week. At each oncologist appointment the doctor would lower my chemo dose due to the side effects. After only the 5th of 12 treatments my family and I said “no more.” My body could not handle the chemicals being pumped in any longer. I no longer could eat and drinking was even difficult. I spent my days mostly unable to walk and function. My oncologist agreed but didn’t have another solution except to rest and possibly restart.At this point I renewed my search for an alternative.
God, who is ever so gracious to us in our times of need and plenty, brought a man back into my life that I had known for about 20 years but hadn’t had contact with for over 15 years, for just that moment, to tell me about a place a friend of his went to receive alternative treatments for cancer. I watched a video he shared with me and immediately felt God telling me to look into this more. This led me to Euromed clinic in Phoenix. After sharing my records and story and speaking with a doctor there, we made plans for me to travel from our home state of Iowa to Phoenix in 5 days and begin treatment. We knew that the treatments were most likely not covered by insurance but we knew that to not do anything, was not an option either.
God’s goodness and overall plan is so evident in this journey. He provided a very quiet, comfortable place for me to stay during all of the treatment times from a very sweet friend who winters in Phoenix and also a vehicle to drive while there from a very generous aunt and uncle. He opened doors and just asked that I walk through them and follow where He leads. My husband and I agreed that we had to trust that there would be a way financially too. Euromed staff provides the most amazing care. They couple a very low dose (5%) chemo with a unique delivery system to target the cancer cells specifically instead of shooting it into the body at full strength and letting it go everywhere and destroy all kinds of good things in the body also. They also have other treatments that enhance and build up the body and all the systems. The goal is to kill the cancer AND get/keep you strong and healthy. With these treatments I have gained half of my weight back and look and feel very well.
The staff and fellow patients have become like family as we have journeyed on this road together. However, the care comes with a cost (although a fraction of the cost of full strength regular chemo that insurance was covering at home in Iowa). Each week of treatment at Euromed cost around $6,500. My husband and I initially thought, ok we can do four weeks of treatment and with savings we can handle this. After the four weeks, tests indicated the treatments were a great match for me and my numbers were going in the right direction so it was highly recommended to stay on the intensive schedule of treatment for another 8 weeks at least. We weren’t sure how the financial aspect of it was going to work out, but had to trust that God would not have brought us this far on a healing path, to abandon us now. At this point a sister of a good friend of mine offered to help us try to code some of the treatments to try to apply to insurance. This was another God given blessing. We began working together and have not given up yet, but currently we haven’t been able to find medical codes for the types of treatments I’m receiving so we have been paying out of pocket for over 14 weeks of treatments. Even the bloodwork that is done and would have been done in Iowa, has had added expense out of pocket due to me being in Phoenix instead of Iowa. What normally would be paid for, is $400 every other week of treatment.
My husband has been amazing through all of this. Maybe being a farmer all of his life and living each year dependent on the weather, input prices, markets, and other things completely out of his control, has prepared him well to trust in God providing what we need.
I have said, I may have been in Phoenix physically alone for most of the time, but I certainly was not alone. I could and do feel the prayers of so many who have been so diligent about praying for us for healing and strength. I am currently on a 21 day home to Iowa and three days of treatment in Phoenix regiment. I have wonderful friends in Phoenix who pick me up at the airport and take me back there each time. I am well blessed by them. We pray that my treatment regiment will continue to be able to more and more spread out and the numbers will stay in line so that I can spend even more time at home in between treatments. I am thankful I have a wonderful school administration that I work for and they are very accommodating to my needing to be gone on this schedule. I teach second graders and their care, energy, enthusiasm for life and learning and love also keeps me on a positive track.
I know God has every step under control. I will continue to trust and follow where he leads and opens doors. If you feel led to help with our journey, we would love to have you join us with prayers and/or financially.