“The world is indeed full of peril…”
The last week has been a roller coaster with as many twists and turns as it has had ups and downs. I have reeled afresh with the struggle that cancer brings, the unknowns, the changes to what had become normalcy, the physical suffering. I have had several phone conversations with staff from the cancer center as they work toward my new regimen. We have had encouraging news and we have had frustrating news, and I have good days and bad days.
I will begin a new chemo this week, only this will be an oral chemo. No more hours spent in the infusion center. Instead I’ll be dosing myself at home twice a day for two weeks, then a week break. Every few weeks, I’ll receive a shipment of pills in the mail, and I have a daily schedule for eating and dosing that I must keep. Even that seems overwhelming to me… how cancer runs my schedule. And I have fought against this kicking and screaming. It seems so silly, I know, to writhe against this small change, but I want to be in charge of my schedule!
On Friday, the oncology nurse from the company that ships my chemo called and spent 45 minutes on the phone with me going over expectations and regimen and dose and side effects, and I walked away completely and utterly overwhelmed. How? How am I going to do this all over again? I cried for a while, then realized how often through this I have been doing the “small things” in my own strength and living like only the big things are in God’s hands. But no. I need Him for every breath, every dose, every minute of my schedule.
“May Your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need.” (Psalm 79:8)
This has been my heart cry once again as I realize how self-sufficient I have become and how desperately I need my Jesus.
And His mercy is great. New every morning.
Today I saw my oncologist and brought pages of notes and questions with me. I know I’ve said this before, but she is amazing. She handled every question with a smile and made sure to fully answer not just what seemed like my intense interrogation of her, but she alleviated many of my fears as well. She helped me grasp what my chemo schedule will look like and how to give myself grace with approximations. As a person who tends to live in black and white, the gray of approximations was a lovely color today!
Her integrated medicine approach is encouraging, and I can bring my list of supplements and diet changes to her, and she says, “Go for it. No interactions. Keep your body strong.”
After my appointment, I went into the infusion center for blood work, and the oncology pharmacist came over to spend some time preparing me for the new chemo, too. He is a wonderful man and went over to-dos and what-not-to-dos in great detail. “Don’t be a hero.” he told me. “Call us anytime for anything that seems wrong or unmanageable.” Then he smiled gently, “God has placed you on my heart,” he said. “I’ve been praying for you, and I prayed over these pills, that God would use them to heal your body.” Yes, my friends, tears.
The new chemo will take some adjusting, and it may require some dosage changes as my body metabolizes it. I have lost even more weight, and she is concerned that the common dose may be too high for me. If I show severe side effects, we will revisit how much and how often I take them. It’s all an unknown still, but sounds somewhat manageable.
This morning I texted a dear friend these words from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening that I read today: “Be thou bold to believe for He has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ In this promise God gives His people everything. ‘I’ will never leave you…” She is walking through a fiery trial, too. One that has fostered many phone calls, weeping together, and sleepless nights of prayer for us both. There are so many unknowns…
But the truth is, no matter what any of this brings, He is with us. And truth doesn’t change.
Yes, “the world is indeed full of peril…”
“…and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater. (~J.R.R. Tolkien)”
This weekend I was able to go out to eat with my family and then a square dance at my church (and even danced a couple times!). A dear college friend came down for Saturday and Sunday, and we watched my Ash play basketball, then went to a JMU game while my younger two went skiing with friends. We shared hearts and struggles, and she didn’t balk at the chaos of a home undergoing renovation. It was a much needed weekend.
Tonight I am curled up with my boys. Ash-man has been home from school with a high fever and deep cough. Bear is battling a sore throat and cold, and we are hoping it won’t turn into more. My Bella-girl is out with her daddy. We have worked on homework and flash cards and maps and memorization. A friend brought us chili and fruit and corn bread. The fire warms. Texts and phone calls have reminded me of the truth above… that love is mingled with grief, but that love grows greater.
Your love. His love.
Yes, His mercy has been poured out in so many ways.
(I have a PET scan on Thursday morning and will begin taking the new chemo Thursday night. Will you pray for us? And pray for protection from so much sickness? Your love and prayers are a gift.)
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