Just Greater Plans started on the bathroom floor of MD Anderson in September 2015. Yes, a bathroom floor. My husband was battling cancer. He had been battling since February 2015. In July 2015, he received a seemingly clear PET scan. His tumor had been reduced from 8.5 cm to 3cm. That was a good tumor size with his type of cancer so the doctors would just watch it until his next scan. We were told that if the tumor started to grow again, he would have mild radiation. Radiation didn’t seem that bad considering the five months of chemo he had just endured. However, over the next month, he started feeling bad again. We called his doctor and they moved up his PET scan. We knew something wasn’t right, but never did we expect what was coming.
In early September 2015, my husband’s scan showed his tumor had not only grown, but was larger than when he was diagnosed. The doctors had no idea what was going on. They had never seen this before with his type of cancer. We were told he would be admitted immediately for salvage chemo. After the first round of salvage chemo, we knew this was different. Yes, he was sick with the chemo he received from February to July, but it was tolerable. This was completely different. He couldn’t get out of bed. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t do much of anything. Visitors were discouraged because of flu season, so he sat in bed and was miserable. They were giving him the strongest chemo his body could tolerate. The doctors repeatedly expressed how his positive attitude would help him, so we needed to keep that going. Since I took a leave of absence from work to take care of him, I found myself painting more. I decided to take the ugliness, and the scariness of his cancer and make it positive. I always asked him before I painted anything, and he was always supportive. It helped me, and it helped him. He often said how me painting made him feel like I was pursuing my dreams, and he wanted me to keep doing it.
In September 2015, we arrived at MD Anderson for him to receive his second treatment. We barely made it to Houston that day. He was so sick and so weak. Before every treatment, they do blood work. It became routine. Get your blood work done, get settled in your hospital room, then a few hours later you would start treatment. This day was different though. His oncologist’s nurse showed up and pulled me aside. She told me that they were switching his chemo. His body could no longer tolerate the chemo he was receiving. It was shutting down his organs. I guess it didn’t seem like I wasn’t fully understanding what she was saying because she said “Mrs. Kling, the chemo is killing him, but so is the cancer.” I really could not believe what I was hearing. His sweet nurse sat with me for over an hour. She explained that the next month would be spent trying to find the balance. They couldn’t even give us a percentage of outcome. Just that the next month was critical. If he even got as much as a cold, it could kill him. She told me that in these situations they recommend keeping this news private during treatment so that the patient can stay positive and not worry about how family and friends would react. He needed all of his strength to fight. This felt so weird to us. We were both so open with our families and our friends. It felt like we were lying. People reached out and I told them everything was good. He was already in isolation and not allowed visitors because of his immune system, so we took their advice and kept it between us.
That day in September was rough. It was purely by the grace of God that I held it together the few times my husband was awake. He had been vomiting so much that day. Nothing was helping. They adjusted his bed to sit him up because they were afraid of him choking since he was so out of it. I felt helpless. I couldn’t call anyone. So I just sat there and prayed. Finally, in the early evening, the doctors found a combination of meds that helped him get some relief and he was out. In that moment, I couldn’t keep it together. I did not want to wake him up with my crying, or even the slightest glow of the iPad, yet there was no way I was leaving his side. I decided to go in the bathroom. I put a towel on the floor, put my iPad on two stacks of paper towels and decided to watch Netflix and forget about what was happening. I knew I had to be strong for him. I had to get it together. I started thinking about things that would make my husband happy. I started thinking about my art and how my husband had been so happy to see me painting again. Even though he was feeling terrible, he always found a way to encourage me and tell me how he wanted me to paint more and to paint with a purpose. He had his dream job and wanted the same for me. I kept thinking about how I should really go for it this time. I wanted to have all of these things thought out so that when we went home we could talk about something other than cancer. My husband was always wanting to talk about something positive that had nothing to do with cancer, so I thought maybe this would help.
I had been painting things that directly related to his cancer, but in an abstract way. Painting these things was cathartic. I refused to allow it to be negative. While I was sitting there, I was trying to find a way to connect my art with what we had been going through and maybe help others in the process. I needed a name for my art business. I didn’t want to use my name because it was hard to spell, and this seemed bigger than me. I was scrolling through my phone and I came across a quote.
“If God knows why, I’m sure he knows when, how and where. No but’s, no what if’s, just greater plans.”
Just Greater Plans. That was it. That was the name. We didn’t know why my healthy husband got an aggressive form of cancer. We didn’t know why after we decided to try for a family again after a miscarriage, this cancer took that ability away from us. We didn’t know why the cancer came back when it responded so well the first time. None of it made sense. In that moment however, I knew I had to commit to this. I had to make this thing happen. Although it is often hard to sometimes see the greater plans in store for us, they are there. We just have to look for them.