The importance and purpose of hope has been on my mind almost constantly the past few days and so I’d like to share a few thoughts. But first a quick health update.
Still exploring treatment options
We are still trying to figure out the right treatment path forward. I met with another team of specialists to review my case. Comfortingly, they confirmed that everything I’ve done up to this point is what they would have recommended. Unsurprisingly, they also confirmed that they don’t have any additional standard treatment protocols with proven results and that my incurable status leaves me with choices on trying to balance longevity with quality of life.
The lung biopsy we did two weeks ago was just one of the newest nodules that had popped up in the last 6 weeks and looked different than the other lesions. It came back as inflammation and organizing pneumonia and did not contain cancer cells (which is a good thing!). As I understand it, I have 5 cavitary lesions that they feel confident are squamous cell, this spot that they just pulled tissue from that is inflammation, and one pretty large spot the size of a tennis ball that they aren’t sure if it is cancer or inflammation / organizing pneumonia.
I’m meeting with a pulmonology specialist on Oct 4th and 5th and I’ll likely have some more CT guided biopsy fun sometime before then. Now the thinking is that they want to do more biopsies and get cells from the largest mass in the upper left part of my lungs and from at least one of the other cavitary masses which are the ones that look like black holes on the CT scans.
The clinical trial I was exploring through the Huntsman Cancer Institute won’t be a fit for me until after they get more information and potentially treat the organizing pneumonia. So my best guess right now is that we treat the inflammation / organizing pneumonia for 4-6 weeks and then start up on either a clinical trial or a maintenance chemo drug. But a trip to Rocky Point, Mexico with my extended family will precede whatever the next treatment plan is. Some times tacos are the best cure to problems and so I’m going to test the limits of that theory the second week of October.
We all have hopes and dreams for good things that we will experience in the future. I’m not unique in looking forward to watching my kids grow up, traveling the world with my wife, becoming a grandparent, and providing meaningful service. While none of this is guaranteed in life and while we should never get complacent with the goodness of today, it certainly generates excitement and appreciation to look forward to those experiences.
My focus the past three or four months has been to create memories with the family that will long outlive me. It has been about having experiences and conversations that the kids can reflect back on later in life and from which they can draw hope and strength and understanding. It has been the most important summer of my life and by far the most enjoyable.
But in some ways it has really amplified the aching I feel for those elusive future experiences with my family. Friday morning I enjoyed a bike ride with Sofie to a breakfast joint on the Newport Beach pier. We had some great conversations and the whole time I’m sitting there hoping the tears don’t fall from my eyes and below my sunglasses where she can see them. I see this confident, loving, beautiful 10 year old girl that is going to experience so much greatness in her life and I get to call her my daughter and I’m not going to be around to witness any of her teenage or adult life. I knew to ride my bike out in front of her on the way home so that I could get the emotion out and wind-dried before making it back to the beach house.
Thinking that I’d had my emotional moment for the day I plopped in my normal spot at the beach for some time in the sun next to Camilla as we watched the kids play in the surf. And then all my mind wanted to do is think about sitting in that same spot with all my adult kids as we watch the grandkids playing together and as my adult kids take shots at me for my laminated family trip itineraries and overpacked schedules. Can’t I be the over exuberant grandpa and trip planner for at least a day? I have the best grandpa name that all the little grandkids will call me — BIG PAPA! Just give me one day of that.
So as I’m sitting there next to Camilla wiping my faucet for a nose and mixing my physical pain with an increased emotional aching, I am agonizing over the knowledge that all the memory creating we can jam into a single summer doesn’t compensate for 40-50 years of future plans that will never happen.
Camilla reminded me of what Elder Gong taught us a few months ago when we met with him:
Christ makes it possible for a perfect restoration of all things and there is nothing good in this life that we will miss out on that won’t be restored to us through the resurrection and eternal life He will give us.
I am continually feeling the anchor of my soul being the ultimate hope in Jesus Christ and His atonement. Nothing else can sustain us through this harrowing experience. Hope through the atonement is the only infinite and eternal reservoir of strength that can match what we are going through.
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.”
To the best of our ability Camilla and I have lived life in an appreciation for the present moment while pairing that with a great hope for future decades of idyllic experiences as a family. But that hope isn’t the ultimate hope. And as I was feeling my hope for the golden years diminishing, I am realizing that ultimate hope in Christ gratefully and miraculously includes those hopes that I thought I was being deprived of. Just as the atonement swallows up sin and pain and sorrow, I believe it also compensates for missed opportunity and disappointment for things not experienced, even if at the present moment that disappointment feels close to infinite.
What awaits us all in the mansions of our Father is “a better world” than however great our future prospects look from our current perch. And that is a comforting thing, whether our future prospects look dim or shiny, to have the confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessing of all that the Father has.
My hero Elder Neal Maxwell wrote:
“Thus, real hope is much more than wishful musing. It stiffens, not slackens, the spiritual spine. It is composed, not giddy, eager without being naive, and pleasantly steady without being smug. Hope is realistic anticipation taking the form of determination—a determination not merely to survive but to “endure … well” to the end (D&C 121:8).
While weak hope leaves us at the mercy of our moods and events, “brightness of hope” produces illuminated individuals. Their luminosity is seen, and things are also seen by it! Such hope permits us to “press forward” even when dark clouds oppress (see 2 Ne. 31:16, 20; Heb. 6:19; Ether 12:4; Col. 1:23). Sometimes in the deepest darkness there is no external light—only an inner light to guide and to reassure.”
And so we will cling to real hope, the Ultimate Hope, and let Him fill us with peace and chase away the aching.
Here are a few pictures from of our latest adventures
Amy Clark did our family pictures again this year. She is one of our closest friends in addition to being an amazing photographer. She captured some shots this year that I’ve stared out for over 5 minutes straight just to take in the emotion. It was an extra special family picture day this year. I will share the full family pictures when we send out our Christmas Card later this year.
I had some of the greatest friends in high school and so much of who I was as a teenager was related to my involvement with our high school baseball team. 7 of us and 2 of our coaches got together in Mesa a couple of weeks ago. We reminisced for 2 or 3 hours on all the hilarious experiences we had and how freaking awesome and athletic we all used to be :). Times have changed…
If you spent more than 3 minutes with me in the past 5 years you’ve heard me talk about TruHearing. It is one of the most formative and influential experiences in my life. I genuinely love what I do and who I work with and the company that we have built together. I was with several of coworkers at a conference with a bunch of our clients this week and it was a wonderful chance to reflect back on the amazing five year run we’ve had together.
Last week was our annual Newport Beach trip with the Millers who are more like family than they are friends. It was the sixth year we’ve done this trip and each year it somehow gets better.