“Oh!”

The room became a frenzy of motion minutes after making the decision to have chemotherapy.  My doctor was whipping out notepads and rattling off instructions like nobody's business.  He was ordering lab tests and writing out multiple prescriptions while my head began to swim.  It was a feeling of no turning back.  I think he wanted to seal the deal before I could get away.


Reality was hitting me.  I needed to slow things down and reconfirm my decision.  I began probing my usually calm doctor who had just transformed into this version of mad-scientist-chemo-guy.  My first question was simply, "Am I going to make it through this?"

"Yes," he answered.
"I have three kids," I reminded him.
"Yes.  You will do fine.  You'll make it."
"My youngest child is three years old," I countered.  
"You'll make it," he repeated.
"I homeschool."

"Oh," was his reply as he turned to face me.  I now clearly had his attention.  The affirmative response was not coming so quickly.

We smiled at each other as he processed this final piece of the puzzle.  I thought to myself… he gets it.  He understands this all-consuming lifestyle we have chosen.  This is not a quick yes, you'll make it, type of fact.  His answer was wonderful, full of insight.  He simply asked, "Do you have people that can help?"

This was an easy response for me.  "Yes.  I have great friends and family.  I am so loved and supported."  

"Then you will do just fine," he said.

It was a beautiful, calming moment in the middle of this medical chaos I seem to keep ending up in.  Jesus, through my doctor, was getting the point across to me.  I was going to make it because He was with me and I have many brothers and sisters in Christ who will not let me walk this path alone.  

Colossians 1:17-18a  "He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  And He is the head of the body, the church…"

It's an incredible support system.  I'm going to be okay through this next season of treatment and perhaps even see my children thrive in their education.  I'm taking Colossians 1:17 as a direct promise to me.  In Jesus, all things will hold together.  

"Am I going to make it, Lord?"  I ask.
It's a resounding, "Yes.  We will make it."

(I began chemo almost exactly one year ago today.  This particular dr appt was mid-July, 2009)

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Puffiness

(…my cancer journey… cont.)

"I hope you are writing these things down.  You've never been funnier."  This was the response of one of my closest friends as I shared with her the enormous depth of grief I was feeling.  As trivial as it might sound, my despair was inspired by a shopping trip I had been on that day.  The goal of the trip was to find a swimsuit for me, which in and of itself can be traumatic.  However, in a moment of insanity, I had invited two friends to "assist" me- two, size 3 friends.  It was the perfect set-up for a breakdown.

Ever since completing the radiation treatments, not to mention having four surgeries in seven months, I seem to have this extra layer of puffiness.  My waist is gone and my overall dimensions- swollen.  I recently asked my surgeon for an explanation.  He just grinned, telling me how great I looked.  Upon further whining (by me) he again encouraged me to embrace the puff.  In fact as I expressed my desire to be rid of the swollen look he profoundly remarked, "Be careful what you wish for."

This was definitely a foreshadowing of what my next doctor's appointment would hold.  Little did I know that in three days I would be making the decision to have chemotherapy treatment.

I really thought I was home free.  Out of my four main doctors, three had landed on the side of no chemo.  I only had to get clearance from one more to be at peace with the thought I had done all that was needed.

As this final "clearance" appointment approached, Eddie and I had prayed for clarity.  We desperately wanted to make the right decision.  This was our third time of meeting with this doctor, and for the sake of being at peace, we knew we had to land on the chemo debate.  Settle it once and for all and move forward.  

This particular doctor is very warm and caring as well as brilliant and thorough.  We began again discussing all options, pros and cons, and seemed to be heading for the usual stalemate.  I was silently pleading for help and direction when he made the deciding statement.  "If the cancer comes back, it will be fatal."  Talk about clarity.  I felt like saying, "Okay God.  Message received- loud and clear."  

Both Eddie and I told the doctor we were in – let's go for it.  I was actually saying the words, "I choose chemo."  And you know what?  I was at peace.  This oxymoron (chemo-peace) I never thought possible, happened.

The puffiness and swimsuit shopping now seem so ridiculously trivial with what lies ahead.  "Be careful what you wish for," continues to echo through my mind.  There may come a day in the very near future where I will be longing for puffiness.  It's true, perspective is everything.

Proverbs 14:30 says, "A heart at peace gives life to the body."  I am at peace and I'm choosing life.

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Jigsaw

When I think back over all the different treatments I've had, I shudder the most at the thought of internal radiation.  It was the one procedure that all four of my doctors agreed was necessary.  My main referring doctor had described the procedure as "tolerable" – not the most encouraging word.  To this day, the memory of having to drink the morphine makes me physically gag.


Part of my difficulty with it was a lack of connection with this well-known Stanford doctor who would be administering the treatment.  He was brilliant, detailed and extremely technical- all things I wanted.  However, there wasn't that personal touch I had grown accustomed to with other medical people in my life.

Each of the three treatments began the same way.  Eddie and I would arrive and check in at the first waiting room.  After some time, we would be led to another area where I headed for the locker room and Eddie made a bee-line to the puzzle table.  I'm sure he was hoping I would take my time changing.

As I previously mentioned, there were opportunities during the treatment when Eddie was allowed to come in.  We would have about an hour and a half to talk.  Though the setting was completely uncomfortable for me, I have to admit we had some of our best conversation ever.  It's amazing how honest one can be with a bit of morphine flowing through the system.

While I wouldn't say it was the most romantic "date" we've had, it definitely had an air of intimacy about it.  Here we were, in the middle of chaos and turmoil, given (in an unexpected way) a forced time of relaxation.  Ed, on the one hand, was doing jigsaw puzzles, a favorite past-time of his and spending quality time with me.  I had to lie still and focus on communicating with my husband. 

I'm learning to look for God in everything.  He takes the pieces of our lives and fits them together even when we can't see the big picture.  He's there in the middle of our pain and difficulties.  One author put it this way, "The mountain is amazing, but the desert is equally full of God's presence to refresh our lives."  As puzzling as it may seem, God did refresh us time and time again throughout this whole, intolerable ordeal.  He was with us, with me… and that's a piece of my life I'll never forget.  

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