Look Good, Feel Good

"Look Good, Feel Good," was the class I had signed up for at the cancer center.  There would be instruction on nutrition as well as how to take care of your skin and hairless head.  The session was to include a free bag of make-up and a free wig, which was somewhat funny to me.  My main objective in wanting to attend was to connect with other women going through chemo- see what their experience had been.  You might say I was into it for the support and encouragement.

As my friend and I walked in, I had one of those de-ja-vu moments.  You see, the last time we came to the center, we had an emotional, somewhat embarrassing encounter.  We were standing there, having completely interrupted a family counseling class, only to have the receptionist apologizing that they had incorrectly written down our appointment time.  We would have to come back later.  I cried, feeling terrible that Eddie had taken time off work, and my friend had rearranged her schedule to drive over to meet us.  

Well, the de-ja-vu feeling was justified.  The guest speaker welcomed me, then abruptly turned to my friend and dismissed her.  She was not welcome in the class under any circumstances, and needed to leave.  The woman would not budge on her position even though I was explaining we had been told friends were welcome.  The director of the center was mortified.  She knew this woman was out of line, but wasn't sure how to handle it with the class minutes away from starting.

I made the decision to leave with my friend, under much protesting from her.  She could hardly handle the idea that I was going to miss out on all the free stuff.  I assured her that I was fine… there was no way I could sit under the teaching of an individual who had come across so uncaring.

The confrontation has proven to be such a great reminder to live a grace-filled life.  I'm sure there is some kind of rule stating no friends allowed (that seems silly) and the instructor took it to the extreme.  She was choosing to enforce the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law.  I'm also hoping she didn't mean to convey such a harsh message.  Her legalistic side perhaps rose to the surface more quickly than grace.  

While I could rant and rave about her actions, I'm choosing instead to learn from them.  I know I'm not the most gracious person at times. Truth is… I like rules.  They provide boundaries, and I function quite well with specific guidelines.  Maybe the idea of offering grace when others are operating outside of the set limit is something God wants to develop in me.  And… just maybe, it begins at home with my husband and kids.  

Matthew 5:7  "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy."  (That's pretty straightforward).

I Thessalonians 3:12  "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you."

2 Peter 3:18  "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."

I didn't attend the class that day, but I do realize I have received a very special gift.  It's called grace.  Now that's something to make me look good, feel good!

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One Leg

We had our blinker on, ready to pull in to a prime parking space when all of a sudden a man jumped into it saying, "We've been waiting a long time to park here."  Where did he come from?  It was all very odd and frankly, a bit maddening.  The beach was humming with spots hard to come by.  As my friend rolled down her window, she was ready for the confrontation.  She caught me completely off guard as I heard her shout, "Oh fine.  I'll just keep driving around my friend who is going through chemotherapy."  Our new foe answered back, "Well, my friend only has one leg."

It was just the comic relief I needed.  I could not stop laughing at the absurdity of the exchange I had just witnessed.  It was classic!  Two people determined to look out for their suffering friends.

It was my first week of chemo and my friend was making sure I was being taken care of.  She had taken me to get my hair cut, followed by lunch and now a walk on the beach.  Proverbs 11:25 "A generous man will prosper.  He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."  What a beautiful Biblical promise.  As we purposefully pour our lives into others, God will fill us up.  

Humility is a fascinating concept.  On the one hand, you have to humble yourself to accept help from others.  It is very hard to admit you need this assistance.  One definition says, "Acknowledging that achievement results from the investment of others in my life."  Likewise, if you are the one assisting someone, you are also showing humility in that you're putting aside your own interests, schedules and plans for the sake of another.  It's two sides of the same coin that Christ uses to keep us from pride.  "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."  Philippians 2:4.  

It was a wonderful day with my friend.  After we circled the parking lot, a spot did open up for us.  Unbelievably, it was right next to the man we had just encountered.  We pulled in and humbly unloaded our things.  And… yes, his friend really did have only one leg. 

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Chemo Club

I never imagined this day would be an event in my life.  Eddie was driving me to my first chemotherapy treatment.  I felt like I was going to be sick just from the thought of it.  Again I asked, "How is this happening to me?"

Upon arrival, the nurse was gunning for me  She had been trying to get a finger prick of blood for months now and I had been able to avoid it on the guise of just being there to chat with the doctor.  Today, however, there was no getting out of it.

The prick itself should be no big deal, but for me it was monumental.  The official start of life-altering, horrific treatment had begun.  I, of course, burst into tears, on the edge of uncontrollable crying.  The nurse patiently waited for my composure to return, then led me to an exam room.

After re-analyzing my decision with the doctor, he comforted me, saying that he knew I was going to do well.  We looked at each other and I saw so much compassion in his eyes.  He patted me on the back, and with that I was led to the dreaded infusion room.

There were eight recliner chairs in the room.  I was told to sit wherever I liked.  "What if I don't like?" was the actual thought scrolling through my mind.  I chose a "centrally located" chair with a good view of the door.  I wanted to keep my escape always in front of me.  One other lady was already seated… smiling pleasantly at me.  Following brief introductions, her IV was started.  My turn was next.

My IV did not go as smoothly.  After much pain and embarrassing tears (okay- loud "guffaws") we were up and running, or dripping to be exact.  I was infusing.  I can hardly write about it without feeling nauseas all over again.

As I began to calm down, having made it through all the preliminary stuff, a very special day began to unfold for me (did I just say that??).  I found myself being warmly welcomed into this new exclusive chemo club.  I met the most beautiful group of people.  Most had no hair- a membership requirement- but that did nothing to diminish their physical beauty.  They were radiant with sparkly eyes and genuine warmth.  Everyone shared bits of their story… most wanted to hear mine.  All could relate and a deep bond was present.  I was given tips on scarf tying, helpful websites, foods that don't make you nauseas and other chemo club tidbits.

The discussion was wonderful and life-giving.  I got phone numbers and even a special hug from a woman who was finishing her last treatment.  She waited for me to return from the bathroom just to embrace me and wish me well.  She told me that she would be praying for me-  that I would make it.  

Seven hours later I was on my way, feeling very encouraged and hopeful.  It had been a good day (did I just say that??).  Psalm 91:9-12  "If you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you:  no plague (cancer) will come near your home.  For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go.  They will hold you up with their hands so you won't ever hurt your foot on a stone."  It really was a monumental day of being infused with the love and peace of God.  He had sent His angels to protect me and fellow cancer sojourners to speak reassuring words to me.  My new, hairless chemo club was a membership gift God was giving me.

Did I just say that??

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