Howie's doctors recommended chemotherapy after his tumor started becoming more active in October,'97, but we decided to wait until it was absolutely necessary. We felt anxious because we had heard so many horror stories about this form of treatment and heard that it wasn't always effective with brain tumors. In '97, we met with an oncologist that Dr. Chalif recommended and in '98, we met with neurologist Dr. Malkin at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital. They both shared that PCV chemo has very good results with oligodendrogliomas. Both doctors were also honest in sharing that there could be harmful side effects with this treatment, including weakness, nausea, low blood counts, and possible damage to other organs, so we opted for nutritional therapy instead.
We knew it was the right time to begin chemotherapy after Howie had his fifth brain surgery. We wanted to make sure the tumor didn't return and he didn't want anymore surgeries (he had three in the past two years). Howie started PCV chemo (procarbazine, ccnu, vinchristin) in June, 1999.
Before he started, we prayed that the Lord would direct us to the right nutritional program to protect his immune system from chemo. Debby, a friend we had not seen or heard from in eight years, called us one evening from California. When we told her about Howie's brain surgeries, she immediately said that he needed to start taking Mannatech products. She gave us the name and phone number of a distributor she knew and we ordered some products from him. Our friends Carol and Bill also recommended these products. And Kathy, an email friend of ours, believed so much in these supplements that she offered to pay for them for Howie to use! About a week before starting chemo, Howie embarked on this new nutritional program, in addition to taking high doses of Vitamin C. During the six months of chemotherapy treatment in '99, Howie suffered very few side effects other than fatigue and lower blood platelets. His white blood counts remained normal, and he didn't lose weight or suffer from nausea. And the MRIs he had showed no return of tumor! Our friends and relatives were amazed to see how good he looked. The anxiety we had previously felt about chemo treatment was now replaced with peace and contentment. The Lord had again answered prayers on Howie's behalf!
There was another major source of anxiety we experienced in 1999: Y2K!
We started hearing about the potential threat of Y2K in mid-1998. I read many articles on the subject and looked at website devoted to this issue. At first, I panicked as I read predictions that our western civilization might come to an end. I finally realized that these warnings were overblown and stopped accessing the more frightening website. But I continued to read news articles related to Y2K as well as recommendations on how to prepare. Howie and I decided in '98 to buy some dehydrated food. In '99, we accumulated other necessities, including bottled water and candles. We live in New York and had no source of heat if there were power outages related to Y2K, so we decided to spend a prolonged vacation during the winter with my family in California.
We believe there's a fine line between preparedness and anxiety. Most people buy health, life, auto, and fire insurance to prepare against potential disasters. It's all right to prepare, but there's no reason to fear. I'll have to admit I did feel anxious over this issue at times, but Howie never did. My brother Dave, who is a computer systems administrator with NASA' s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shared with me that much of the information out there was hype, but I chose to continue reading the warnings of others who shared more dire concerns. I was so convinced that this could be a worldwide problem of major proportions. Looking back after January 1st, 2000, I realize I would have been saved myself many anxious moments by following the Lord's commands to "Fear not." It would have been wiser for me to look at this issue from the perspective of computer experts, like my brother, rather than listen to so-called analysts who were jumping on the bandwagon of fear. Howie and I did avoid panic on Y2K, however, by preparing and by praying daily for God's wisdom and strength and protection. We feel sorry for those who quit their jobs to move to the mountains out of fear. They must be feeling quite foolish!
During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt remarked, "The only thing to fear is fear itself." Fear and anxiety can either make us immobile or cause us to make very irrational decisions. The way to face our fears is to look at them through the eyes of faith, which is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11 :1). God knows our tendency to fear, so He gave this command numerous times in the Scriptures: "Fear not." Instead of feeling anxious, we should pray about everything with thanksgiving. God wants us to have His peace in our hearts, knowing He is with us as we walk through life's stressful situations. In Psalm 23, David said, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff; they comfort me."
FOR THOSE WHO HURT: You may be feeling anxious and fearful because of a present condition or potential future event looming on the horizon. You're not alone, for even the Lord's disciples experienced fear. It may help you to memorize and meditate on this command from God's Word: "Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; surely I will help you; surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). And remember to pray with thanksgiving, even in the midst of fearful circumstances. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7). God wants to replace all your fears and anxieties with His peace that passes all understanding, so face your fears with faith.
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