Battlefield

(I wrote this about a year ago.  It was a really rough time for me)

Patrick Swayze died today.  I cried.  It was the mourning of a fallen comrade, another victim on the battlefield of cancer.  I wept for him and for myself.  It’s a blatant reminder that many don’t survive this illness.

The tears seem to flow quite easily lately.  I just completed my third round of chemo which means I’m halfway through this treatment.  It also means things are getting harder.  Life just keeps speeding up, but my body wants to slow down.  The school year has started and my energy level is not keeping up with the demands of homeschooling.  The world doesn’t seem to want to wait for me to feel better.  It all just keeps coming.  The thought that I’m not going to make it is ever present in my mind.

Fighting depression is new territory for me.  I don’t want to go there, but find myself on the brink of slipping past the point of no easy return.  The deciding factor of where I land is going to be the thoughts I allow to take root in my mind,  the way I “talk to myself” … so to speak.

Positive self-talk is key to survival.  To keep this mind chatter healthy, I know I must consistently do three things:  exercise, sleep and spend time with God- which is all hard to do when not feeling well.  The most important one is time with my Heavenly Father, praying and reading the Bible even when extremely nauseas.

God is the great minister of the mind.  Verse after verse speaks of hope and promise.  You’ve got to read it to believe it.

Romans 5:1-3  “Let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through Him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things He has for us in the future.  This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys- we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles.

My life is in God’s hands.  I trust Him.  As I daily turn my thoughts over to Him this “battlefield of the mind” becomes His fight.  I surrender it all.  God wins… not cancer!

Sigourney

“I told you,” my doctor was exclaiming as he wagged his finger in my face.  I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a scolding or an encouragement.  “I told you, you would look great without hair.”  A grateful smile was appearing on my face.  “You have one of those looks that can really pull it off,” he continued.  He went on to say how amazingly beautiful the bald Sigourney Weaver was in “Aliens,” and told me I look that incredible.

Well.  Talk about an immediate boost to my waning self-esteem! I wanted to hug and thank my doctor.  He had impacted my life immensely in just a few short statements.

Simply put, I miss my hair.  Many days I have to gear up before leaving the house, a sort of pep talk thing.  I repeat phrases such as, “You can do this.  You look fine.  Most people aren’t even noticing.”  It’s the anticipation of what might be said or what looks will be given.  If I let my mind go there, I can end up defeated.  Usually, once I get in a social setting, I’m fine.  People are very sensitive and kind.  In fact, I feel most comfortable when asked about my bald head, rather than the “elephant in the room” type of thing happening.

The whole wig idea just didn’t work for me.  For some reason, with my personality, it felt as if I was not being authentic, not to mention how uncomfortable I felt with it on.   Scarves also did not go over very well.  I could not fold and tie them in any presentable way.  My lack of spatial visual technique was completely evident with each attempt.  So, instead of covering my head with a beautiful wig or scarf, I chose to wear hats.

It has been a great lesson in finding out what I am made of.  More than ever, my security has to be in Jesus.  My confidence has to come from who I am in Christ, rather than if my outward appearance is acceptable to the world.  I am a child of the King, loved by God and filled with the Holy Spirit.

I Peter 2:9-10 states clearly who we are.  It says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God;  once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

That is who I am, with or without hair!

Verse 11 goes on to call God’s people, “strangers and… aliens.”  I guess Sigourney and I have more in common than just our bald heads.

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

(This was the big day in Aug 2009)  The wig looked terrible.  How could I have loved it so much when I bought it?  What was wrong?  It was not hanging right, seemed so flat.  We were minutes from walking out the door to go to church and this last step of putting on my hair was becoming a growing disaster.

This was to be my first outing with the new “do.”  I had not anticipated having any trouble.  My plan was to throw the thing on and off we go.  Now the whole family was offering both wanted and unwanted suggestions on how to make it look better.  I felt like a fool.  I should have been more prepared, but then again, how do you prepare for instant baldness?

This “transitioning to no hair” weekend had been packed full of every emotion.  It was happening whether I was ready for it or not.  Now it was a matter of the best approach, managing the inevitable.  Saturday was the day.  I had so much hair dropping off of me that I couldn’t even enter the house.  I was stalling by doing some yard work, all the while feeling like cobwebs and spiders were crawling down my neck, back and arms.  This was it.  Take control.  Face up to it.

Eddie and I gathered the kids on the back deck armed with camera, video recorder, scissors and clippers.  Our goal was to make light of it and have everyone participate.  Our 3 year old, Olivia, went first.  She had a little pair of scissors and began cutting on my hair, although she seemed to be aiming for my ear most of the time.  Jessica, 13 years, was next.  She sculpted a whole design that actually looked quite good if my hair would just stay in place.  Next was Cory, 9, who made final chops having a good laugh.

I was holding it together pretty well until Ed pulled out the clippers.  The fun and games were over for me at this point, and cold, stark reality was there again.  I was a mess.  Covering my eyes, I wept as he shaved the remaining hairs down to a half inch.  Pictures of my mom battling cancer passed through my mind.  My heart was breaking all over again for what she had endured.  I can’t even remember how she handled losing her hair, whether she shaved it or let nature take its course.

The silent prayers were flooding my mind.  I was humiliated and devastated, but mostly praying for my family.  I just want them to be okay with this, knowing that God loves our family so much.  Our response is to love Him back and stay calm.  God really does have everything in control.

It’s a point of surrender.  Even my hair belongs to God.  I know that He is working all things for my good, and there is a purpose even when I can’t clearly see it.  a pastor recently said, “God will think about your life in ways you never will.”  I guess that’s what makes Him God.

We eventually made it to church.  God blessed me with some amazing comments about my new “haircut.”  He had to be chuckling when one lady grabbed me, hugged me and said, “See.  I told you, you wouldn’t lose your hair.  I’ve been praying.”  I was SO grateful for that comment.  I was going to make it through this- one surrendering step at a time- whether hair today or gone tomorrow.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18  “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow