I don't remember what the weather outside was like, but for my family December was a stormy month.
Physically stormy. Mentally stormy. Emotionally stormy.
In the month of December, my dad spent 21 of 24 days in two different hospitals. He was admitted to the first hospital for another round of aggressive chemotherapy, and while it took longer than it should have, it was scheduled and intentional. His second hospital stay was two weeks long, began with a trip to the ER, and went downhill from there.
The second, unplanned hospital stay was characterized by fevers, interrupted sleep, multiple doctors, increasingly worse lab test results, lack of appetite, confusion, pain, a small blood clot, a full-body rash that baffled the doctors, and exhaustion.
He was very sick, and he just wasn't himself.
It was awful. Indescribably awful.
And it was a blessing in disguise.
The storm of alternating improvement and decline in my dad's health has passed, and he's been home for a week now. His appetite is returning, the lab test results have improved (for the most part), he's getting more sleep, and he's resumed most of his usual routine.
He is still sick, but he is at least himself again.
My parents have dealt with a multitude of medical issues over the past few years. Chemotherapy. Drug reactions. Unexplained fevers. A stem cell transplant. Hospitalizations. And opinions. Lots and lots of opinions.
They sorted through all the opinions and made decisions about treatment. Some of them were hard decisions, some were unexpected, and none of them were fun. But the hardest decision they knew they were going to have to make has been with them from the very beginning.
When does it stop?
How long does the chemotherapy continue?
After the two-week-long storm that was my dad's hospitalization, the answer became clear.
Chemotherapy treatment stops when it's no longer effective; when it hurts more than it helps.
For my parents, the decision to discontinue chemo was partly reached in the middle of the chaos of hospitalization, and partly in the calm quietness of their own home.
Separately, not knowing what my parents had already decided, my dad's doctor reached the same conclusion.
No more chemo.
The storm is over, and although it's still raining, it's calm.
And we have peace.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.