Caring for a Spouse with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)

MCC5

 

 

Meet: Shorna
Caregiver Connection: Shorna, who currently works as registered nurse in the ICU,  graduated from high school with Carol and Pedro back in 1984.
Who she cares for: Her husband, who was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)
Favorite Bible verse: “When I am afraid, I will trust in him.” Psalms 56:3

In the space of one year, our lives went from miracle to medical mystery. On December 15, 2004, after a 15-year wait, God gave us our miracle son, Jeffrey. Life felt complete for Jim and I—our family had expanded to three and life seemed as if it would only get better.

By December 15, 2005 things had drastically changed. In the week leading up to our son’s first birthday, Jim, a retail manager in Walla Walla, called in sick and went to bed, a rare occurrence during over 15 years of service. He had no cough, nor sniffles, so I wondered why he stayed home.

As the week progressed, and he continued to call in sick, I asked him how he was doing but he couldn’t pinpoint his problem. He said things like, “The lights were too bright.” As the week wore on I noted some confusion. Just little things: 2+2 didn’t equal 4 anymore. Jim would get up suddenly and say, “I need to go to the doctor now,” and out the door he would go right then, without waiting for me to get our sleeping son out of bed to go along with him. He would get home from the doctor and not remember much of what the doctor said.

But some things he did remember. The doctor would say, “Take a chill pill,” and give him a prescription for Ativan. Another time the doctor said, “Walk it off, go back to work. ” After seeing the doctor four times in one week, Jim decided to go back to work.

Nothing was supposed to be wrong. He was supposed to be okay. Jim mustered up all the courage he could. Sweating and pale, he set out for work. He described his experience to me later by saying that it felt like he was driving and “seeing through a pin hole.” He could hardly see anything.

After being at work for just thirty minutes, he called me on the phone. “I don’t know what I’m doing.” His voice shook with tears. “I’m looking at this book and I know I need to help a customer, but I don’t know what to do.”

I told him I would send his parents to pick him up, and take him to the hospital (we live 20 minutes out of town, and Jeffrey was sleeping). As soon as the baby woke up, I got him ready and we went to town where doctors were performing a CT scan of Jim’s head.

Jim had a brain tumor. In short order Jim was being taken to Harborview, in Seattle Washington.

The next day was Jeffrey’s birthday. It was also the day that Jim was told he had a Glioblastoma Multiforme, stage 4, inoperable brain tumor, located in the left thalamus. He was given three to 12 months with treatment to live. The doctors sent him home a few days later, and told him to get his affairs in order and prepare for the worst.

When we got home, we talked. We had always figured out things ourselves. But we couldn’t handle this on our own. We had no control. We had one option—surrender it all to God. We didn’t know exactly how to surrender the problem, though, because our walk with God hadn’t been a priority.
That night, the Holy Spirit impressed Jim to throw out all the bad food in our home—no bad sugars, no bad fats. Giving those things up wasn’t easy for Jim, because he was a meat-eating, sugar-loving man.

I welcomed all the advice I could get. I went searching for answers. We tried everything alternative that came our way that seemed to make sense.

We knew that Jim had to do chemotherapy and radiation just as soon as they could start the treatments. This was a far advanced disease, and he wanted a little bit more time.

Chemotherapy and radiation started right away. So did all the other alternative therapies.

Although the doctors predicted that Jim had less than a year left on this earth, God had other plans for our family. Jim spoke with the Lord, “God, IF there is a God, show me who you are.” Jim started getting up early in the morning and spending one to three hours with God, reading his Bible and praying.

Within one week Jim said, “God I believe You!” What changed so quickly? In that one week some people came and saw our car that we needed to sell sitting behind the garage—and they bought it! Then a neighbor gave us $500 to help with medical expenses. She had found owl droppings and baked them and sent them to WSU for 10 cents apiece to make that $500. We also needed a fence. God impressed some people to donate their time and supplies to put in the fence for us. Miracles do happen, if we let God have our hearts.

Meanwhile, the effects of chemotherapy and radiation proved devastating for Jim. Within one month, he couldn’t walk. He had incapacitating headaches that caused him to tremor and groan—and nothing seemed to help.

Month after month went by, and Jim clung to life. He lost 110 pounds over the first year. He actually fit into my jeans. But chemo had to end. He couldn’t handle it anymore. His labs were good, but he was no longer eating. Now the waiting began, waiting for him to die. That’s an awful feeling, lying in bed all day, wondering if he’s going to wake up or breathe his last. Would Jeffrey have a daddy? If so, for how long? Fear—sometimes that’s hard to give to God.

Month 18 rolled around. Jim was still alive. But now an MRI showed progression of disease. Life would be short. In trying to decide what to do we sent his MRI to the tumor board at Harborview in Seattle, Washington where 30-40 medical doctors review the scans. They all concurred: Jim had tumor progression and needed to have further treatment. Only one radiologist here in Walla Walla said, “No this is not tumor progression it is radiation scarring.”

After spending time in prayer, Jim decided to decline further chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He would continue with alternative therapies, and nothing more—the side effects of the treatments were just too devastating for him.

As each day passed, life took on new patterns. Jim’s ability to walk returned. His vision in his right eye came back. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months—and things continued to improve. Jim started getting out more, doing more things, and enjoying life. He drove a lot, and spent good times with family and friends. The headaches remained, but he never complained.

Months rolled into years and Jim continued to do well. He figured if he didn’t need an MRI there was nothing he needed to know. He trusted completely in God.

As our human nature is, we go up and down in our spiritual life. Believing, trusting, and obeying, is part of our daily walk with Christ. Learning to depend on Him fully is sometimes hard. But these years have been fulfilling. God is in control. Our lives are surrendered to Him on a daily basis.

Fear, fear of the unknown is awful—giving God that fear can sometimes be very hard.

Nine years after Jim’s original diagnosis of Glioblastoma Multiforme grade 4 brain tumor (when he had been given months to live), Jim’s confusion and headaches returned. Fear reared its ugly head again,

After seven years of not having an MRI, he asked for an MRI. Going to the hospital that day he held my hand, thinking he may never come home again. But to our surprise the doctor said “There is NO TUMOR, just scar tissue from the radiation.”

WOW! It seemed unbelievable. How could it be true? We sought out three more medical doctors’ professional opinions. They all concurred—Jim was tumor free. It’s a MIRACLE! No doctor can explain how this type of tumor can just go away. God is in control! God knew I needed a good husband. God knew Jeffrey needed a good daddy.God's miraculous intervention #GBM http://wp.me/p2UZoK-zg via @blestbutstrest

Life may not always be easy. Jim’s headaches remain, but I have a great husband and Jeffrey has a great daddy. Jim may not be able to function the way he used to. He may never be able to work out of the house again, but he can drive and he does a great job homeschooling our precious boy Jeffrey.

I tell the story, not only for my healing but to tell others there are more options. Put God first in your life. God will take care of you, in sickness and in health. (tweet this)

Find more inspirational stories at My Caregiver Connections.

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  • WOW! Praise the Lord! What an incredible testimony, both of God’s awesome healing power and the community and provision that he provided through his people. This is just amazing!
    Messy Mom recently posted…Mother Son NightMy Profile

  • What a beautiful testimony of love and faith and hope. God bless this family with many more years.

  • Wow, what a beautiful story!
    The Momma recently posted…Five Minute Friday: StillMy Profile

  • Amazing! God is so good, and He is clearly using you as a part of His greater plan. Thank you for sharing!
    Kristin recently posted…Five Minute Friday: StillMy Profile

  • Wow! What a testimony! My sister and her husband live in Walla Walla and have just gone through a battle with cancer… they refused chemo and radiation and went the alternative route and he is feeling much better. I love that you included that you “tell the story, not only for (your) healing but to tell others there are more options. Put God first in your life. God will take care of you, in sickness and in health.” Amen!
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…STILL – A Five Minute Friday postMy Profile

  • Awesome!
    paula recently posted…A New Baby at our HouseMy Profile

  • Lois

    Just wondered if a plant based diet would help the headaches, and not eating any of the trigger foods, or foods her husband might be allergic to.

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  • Thank you for all your comments, care and support.
    God will lead us where ever we go.:-)

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