Radiation Ends

From James:

Today was So Young’s last day of radiation treatment!

We spent Monday through Wednesday in Baltimore on a “retreat” of sorts that we planned early on, anticipating that So Young would be more tired than ever as the treatment concluded. Ending radiation is a huge milestone for us. It means so many things.

Ending radiation means that we have ended the major treatment phase of So Young’s illness. God willing, she will never undergo surgery, chemotherapy, or any other treatment for this illness. If she does, it will mean that the tumor has become fast-growing (i.e., “malignant,” although anything growing in the brain — slow or fast — is malignant), which is something we are earnestly praying it will not do. So this is it. This was the one shot we had to fight the tumor medically, although of course we still believe that God is the physician who can heal it no matter what is done medically. So Young was treated with the maximum dose of radiation (5,400 cGy) for the brain. It is highly unlikely that they would treat her with radiation again, and then only as a last resort. 

Ending radiation also means that our life gets to return to “normal” to some extent, or at least we are hoping so, although we all need to adjust to So Young’s visual impairment, should it continue. The good news is that her eyesight seems to be improving.

Finally, ending radiation means that we have a new perspective on God’s love for us, because we have seen many people standing up for us during this time. If anything, I consider it to be a wonderful argument (albeit on a small scale) against those who would condemn Christianity for the crimes committed in its name throughout history. All of the people who drove us were not related to us by blood, but related to us through Christ. They were acting out of compassion because of their beliefs — because of Christ living in them in a real, supernatural way. They are just as much our family as our parents and siblings.

So what is next? We are meeting with the radiation oncologist (Kristen Redmond) again in six weeks or so for a follow-up MRI and appointment. She said that So Young’s tumor is likely to look bad at that time — “angry” is the word that she used. The swelling caused by the radiation is likely to make it look big and fast growing, which won’t be true. It will take some time for things to subside (six months is the conventional wisdom), and then we will see whether it has become smaller. That is the hope, although most often that is not the case. Still, the very gradual restoration of So Young’s eyesight is a hopeful sign.

After that, we watch and wait. At first, an MRI is performed every three months. After perhaps five years, the MRIs become an annual event. For Grade 2 astrocytomas, we are generally talking years of watching and waiting, hoping that things don’t turn for the worse. This kind of monitoring is not unique to brain tumor patients. Cancer survivors of all kinds endure it with painful regularity.

Today was a very emotional day for us. The last three days, frankly, have been wonderful for us, realizing that this major leg of the race has come to a close.

At Hopkins, every cancer patient gets to bang a gong that they have in the facility when radiation treatment is over. Everybody applauds when you do it. There are cheers and hugs and good wishes from everybody. So Young asked how many times she could hit it. Usually the patients hit it once. The nurse said, “As many times as you want!” So Young must have hit it a dozen times.


15 Responses

  1. Tears are streaming down my face. I am so grateful that this phase is over. I am bewildered and inspired by So youngs’ spirit!

  2. Yes! I am so happy that you turned a difficult three days into a time away together. Together as a couple and together with God. Hitting the gong a dozen times is a very appropriate way to celebrate.

    She ran three miles? I see So Young and her running partner returning to training soon. With her eyes on the goal, and her trust in God, she can do all things. I believe that God will completely heal her and enable her to return to her usual activities.

    I am grateful to God for you, your beautiful girls and your faithful, generous friends.


  3. What at time of rejoicing as we celebrate the milestones God allowed So Young to reach with so many loved ones by her side and her family’s side. This has brought tears of joy to my heart. All we can do is depend upon our Good and Gracious God.

    I am constantly thinking of you So Young, and praying for you. I am so touched by this milestone and may God be the ultimate Healer of your tumor. There has been so many spiritual lessons learned for me on this journey of yours and I’m sure many more to come. Can’t wait to catch up with you So Young.

    Love ya,


  4. Truly amazing and inspiring 3 miles that is great, look out MCM. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  5. Yeah!!!

  6. Praise the Lord!!! You have all continued to be in my prayers daily, and I praise God with you for His awesomeness in your lives. You inspire with your demonstration of faith, and I thank God for how He is using your journey to strengthen us all. I pray God’s continuing loving manisfestation in your life.

  7. Praise God! It has been such a blessing following your story and reading more about how things are going. We are continuing to pray for you So Young and Gage family! Your faithfulness and peace in God’s goodness encourages and blesses me so much! Wow…running 3 miles?! Plus, the clanging of the bell part made me smile. Just had to stop “lurking” on your blog and say AMEN out loud…kinda ;>. Will keep praying that God showers you with more joyful days ahead!

  8. so so so blessed to be with you for this journey, gage family…

  9. Tears of happiness for you So Young. I love the picture of you hitting the gong. Love you.

  10. Ruby and James
    I’m so very glad to hear that radiation is over!!!! Glad to hear you’re running, Ruby!!! It keeps us sane.

  11. Thank you GOD!!! I am so happy that the radiation is over and will keep the Gage’s family in our prayers.

  12. Radiation done – check; three miles of running – check and wow!! MCHH training begins…soon…lots of hugs coming your way…let me know when you need that running buddy. :o)

  13. YEAH so young!!!!!!!!!! : D i’m sooo glad that YOU got to finally hit the bell!!! i wish i could’ve been there to hear that joyful noise & rejoice w/ you in person! i am definitely rejoicing w/ you in spirit! and i’m sooo glad that you & james got a little “retreat” together! thank you for taking time to blog so we can better journey w/ the gage’s! love to you all!!!

  14. When Navy SEAL trainees ring the bell, it’s because they give up. Not you. 🙂

    Proud of you, lady.

  15. I just read this post again. I love the picture (which I didn’t see when I read the post from my phone)!


    Love, Jen

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