Christie Turnbull -- Uxor Eximia Mea
These pages chronicle Christie Turnbull's journey beginning in October 2005. As of 2016, the Turnbull Family thanks God together for His faithfulness to us as Christie remains clear from cancer.
In middle of October, 2005, our family learned that we were expecting a new Turnbull! For that, we give thanks to God. The Turnbull girls were fairly thrilled. The Turnbull boy just smiled, grunted and wanted more cheese.
On the second of November (2005) we learned that Christie (the beautiful, youthful-looking woman on the far left in the picture--not to be confused with the other beautiful young women in that same picture) has breast cancer. Of course, we were completely shocked, especially considering that with every child a woman nurses, her risk of that disease is reduced dramatically.
After we had some time to comprehend what we had learned and pray and talk about it together and with our children, we have been encouraged to remember that God is not bewildered or distressed, and that "the Everlasting God, the Lord, [unlike us] does not become weary or tired." Thankfully, we are not looking to our own strength or wisdom as the means of our endurance or the ground of our hope.
You are likely reading this because you are one of our friends and are praying for us. It is because of God's merciful answers to your and others' prayers that we are encouraged. Thank you. Already the people of Cornerstone Bible Church and many followers of Christ in our valley have so practically and sacrificially demonstrated the love that Christ has for His children very graphically to our family. We can hardly express our thanks for each gift and kindness.
On this page we want to keep all of our family and friends supplied with the latest about Christie's diagnosis and condition as we walk through this valley together. Below are some of the details.
If you would like to send a message to Christie you are welcome to do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christie's Current Diagnosis:
Christie was diagnosed with invasive ductal cancer in November of 2005. The type of cancer cells in the tumor were Her2neu positive. Her2 is a type of protein receptor that naturally appears on the outer wall of a cell and aids in cell reproduction and growth. Christie's cancer cells have too many of those receptorsand thus, the tumor cells tend to replicate and grow aggressively.
Christie's Current Treatment:
On Friday, November 18, 2005, Christie had a modified radical mastectomy. After her surgery, the pathologists analyzed the tissue and lymph nodes removed during surgery to determine how far the cancer had spread and what treatment needed to be considered. The results showed that Christie had another, larger tumor in her breast that had gone undetected. For that reason we give thanks to God that our daughter in utero made a mastectomy the only option, since it was exactly what was warranted by the progress of the cancer. The tests also clearly showed cancer in three of the seven lymph nodes that were removed. All of these features taken together put her cancer at Stage II.
These lab results indicated that Christie needed two phases of chemotherapy. The first treatments of Adriamycin and Cytoxan began on January 20th, 2006. That chemotherapy was administered every three weeks and ended in early May. On May 22nd one of the greatest miracles of our earthly lives occurred when Isabella Vivian was born four weeks early and in apparently perfect health! For us it was like being with Moses during the exodus. We were watching God's mighty work. Then my wife commenced her second phase of chemotherapy. Beginning in the first week of June and lasting until the 25th of August, Chris received weekly doses of Taxol (poison derived from the bark of the yew tree) and Herceptin (not a chemotherapy, but an antibody that inhibits the growth and division of cancer cells). Though the Taxol was finished at the end of summer, the Herceptin treatments continued (back on a three week interval) until May of 2007.
Finally, in early September of 2006 Christie started daily radiation treatments. These were complicated by some significant nerve pain and difficulty in positioning her arm for the radiation, but on October 9th, after 25 doses, she bid farewell to that phase of cancer treatment. As she continued with the Herceptin, she battled the longer-term side effects of chemotherapy and the challenge of caring for an arm that has no lymph nodes. Herceptin, and all other official treatments, were completed in the first week of May. And Christie had scans in May and July of 2007 that showed no signs of cancer!
The Ingredients of Hope
(This is an excerpt of one of the more important Quotidian Updates, below.) Throughout this season in the Turnbulls' lives we have been renewed in our strength and hope by remembering (over and over) the really important things. For one, there is the bare fact that nothing really matters more than human beings. As much as I love our house and our yard and the mountains and our old Subaru and the red rocks of Utah and the old desk in my office and certain 60's music, all of that recedes into the background when something like cancer becomes a part of one's life. I can't think of anything on the earth that is more important than my wife and our children and our family and friends. I don't treasure anything on this earth more than those people. Really, what could be more important than a person?
But even more significant in our lives has been, and certainly now is, our relationship with God. In some ways, going through a time like this resembles trekking through an August desert, or being put into an oven to bake at 375. It cooks away all of the excess and nonessentials, and we are left to survive on what is really substantial. I think you know how it is when you have been hiking or working outdoors all day in the middle of summer and the only thing you really want is the one thing you really need: water. Americans spend a whole lot of time drinking soda pop, but that would not be the thing to give someone who issuffering real thirst.. At that moment of true need, there is nothing that tastes better than water. This parallels the effects of this trial for us. It often makes our desires mirror our true needs. We begin to want what God says we really need. Instead of trying to draw nourishment from evanescent things like Herb Alpert's music, we are forced (in the good way) to find our delight and satisfaction and hope in the one thing that lasts forever and is unperturbed by small things like cancer: God Himself. This fact makes the words of Christ in John 7:37 and 38 even more pointed: Jesus stood and cried out, "If any man is thirsty, let Him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.' "
It is during this season that we are reminded of the essentials that bring us spiritual life and hope in the face of death. Here are some of the most important I know:
1. That God created the world and everything in it and that because of that He has the rights (as all inventors and creators do) over what He made. I belong to Him and Christie belongs to Him and He can (and should) do with our lives in accordance with the good purpose for which He made us. As the Scripture says, "it is He who made us and not we ourselves."
2. That God, who made the world and us, has also mercifully revealed Himself to us. He is holy and righteous and good. This is the great hope of people living in an imperfect world (like you and me)! God is good and just and will ultimately make all things right. His excellent character means that evil will not go unpunished and that suffering is not the end of the story, although it may be a significant part of the middle. As the Scripture says, "proclaim the name of the Lord; ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He."
3. That His goodness and righteousness are not only our one true hope but also the ultimate standard by which all men will be measured. God's character is the pattern that we were made to imitate. When we go astray from His ways and His goodness in the way we think or act or treat our neighbors, we are missing the mark and naturally guilty. This going astray is what the Bible calls "sin" and has just as much to do with what we omit as what we commit. For example, the Scripture says, ""You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind." In this excellent command I see God's goodness as well as my own breaking of that command.
4. That cancer is a great metaphor of sin. Cancer is a cell that is meant to be part of a larger organism, that decides to live for itself and grow at the expense of the organism. In the same way, I have sinned personally against my Creator (ask my wife for details) and--it may be hard to believe-- Christie has also sinned. In fact, the Scripture says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And just like cancer, something has to be done about sin. It cannot be allowed to grow and prosper. If it does it will kill whatever it touches. That is why it makes sense when the Scripture says that "the wages of sin is death." Death is a final separation, and sin will ultimately separate me forever from the people I love and God who made me. This is probably the most culturally uncomfortable teaching in the Scriptures: people like you and me will spend the rest of forever separated from God and everything that is good (since all good things come from ultimately from Him). But it is realizing the accuracy of this truth that allows us to even begin to see another facet of God's goodness.
5. That God is merciful and kind beyond all comparison. The wonder and scandal of the Scriptures is that they tell the story of a God who loved us so much that, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Who would give his life for a friend? Many heroic men and women have done so. But the amazing thing about God is that He gave His life for His enemies. Christ offered His sinless life in the stead of those who deserved to die because of their sin. That's me. And, to add to the wonder of this story, after His death (because He is God) Christ rose from death as the conquering Saviour. Can you see how that is the decisive hope for the Turnbulls? If Jesus Christ loved us so much that He would offer His life for ours, how will He not also be faithful to help and keep us through such a trial as this cancer? If Christ shattered death itself through the power of His own indestructible life, how can we refuse to have hope in the face of death?
6. That God also sovereignly and mercifully applied these truths to our lives personally. It wasn't just enough for us (or anyone) to know about these ideas. God kindly brought us to the point where we acknowledged that we had indeed ignored and disobeyed God and that we, personally, were rightly vulnerable to His righteous judgment. Then we could actually see Christ not merely as some figurehead of a major world religion, but we could embrace Him as the living God who saves us and gives us life. As the Scripture says, "God commands all men everywhere to repent." That word, "repent" means to turn away from sin and to march toward God. This all happened at a particular point in both of our lives. On our side, it involved admitting to God our sin, and committing our lives to Him and thanking Him for His forgiveness. That personal interaction with God has become a daily way of life. Paul ideally describes this type of life (in the book of Galatians) when he says, "I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and delivered Himself up for me." Of course, this is the very kind of life that we are pursuing and that we seek for every one of our friends and family. (By the way, I didn't make this stuff up; it's is all in the Bible. And if you have a relevant question about these matters, please ask.)
Thank you for your prayers. We hope to keep this page up-to-date with essentials that will help you pray for her and us.
(Note: the Quotidian Updates are arranged with the most recent entry first so that one does not have to scroll down a long page to find the day's summary.) Also, don't forget to hit the Refresh button on your browser to load the latest changes to this page (see below).