Another Tough Go

As I write today, I’m more or less confined to my lounge chair still feeling the effects of my last chemo treatment. I did not have the neuropathy pain this go-round, which gave me such a huge sense of relief, but there was (is) a whole arsenal of other unpleasant side effects that chemo has hit me with over the weekend. I’m still in its nasty grip.

So far since my cancer diagnosis, I have missed out on our anniversary cruise, Stampede Week, camping at the lake with all the kids, camping weekends with my husband, church services, and this past weekend the No Greater Love Christian Music Festival. We live near enough so we could hear the music drifting on the wind coming from the grounds of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, but I couldn’t join the crowds and enjoy the music in person. I contented myself instead with watching some of the videos NGL posted online. I don’t malign the fact I can’t participate in some activities I had planned to be a part of this summer, but it’s hard to look forward to next year when the day to day now is an endurance on its own.

I am in survival mode, living with and through nausea, unable to sleep at night, but so fatigued I can hardly move about my home. It’s hard to adequately describe what my body has gone through this past weekend, but it’s like being pulled apart from the inside out. No pain, but feeling constantly sick has worn me down. Oh, and I’ve lost six pounds in three days. ‘Nuff said.

My “help me” prayers have been two to three sentences in length, if that. My husband took over adding the specific details when I couldn’t find strength to voice the requests myself. He has watched helplessly as I struggled these many days. At one point, after helping me up the stairs to bed, he just hugged me while I wept into my pillow. I voiced my defeat, while he prayed me to sleep.

Why do I share this? My last post was so hopeful, filled with praise. I am thankful I was pain free this round, but cancer and the chemo that combats it are insidious bedfellows. There is no “easy” way to get to the other side of this. I can’t sidestep this, nor can I quit, even though the physical and mental toll on me is profound. Really all I think about this go-round is a great “cloud of witnesses” that surrounds me.

Hebrews 11 is a list of the faithful greats of the Bible. Men and women who despite setbacks, personal challenges, persecution, and more, lived their lives “by faith”. They were great overcomers, mostly ordinary individuals who are remembered in Scripture for their extraordinary faith. They were not perfect people. In fact, some of them were actually quite flawed in character, but God used them even in their weakness, to make them great for His purposes.

I have my own “cloud of witnesses” who have gone before me, who faced cancer with dignity and great faith. My mother-in-law, Laura, who battled breast cancer, raised her three children and shared the Gospel with them, with me, with family and friends and even when she was confined to a wheelchair in her last years witnessed to all who would listen. She knew her priorities. My mother, Ellen, who determined to put the needs of others before her own, while breast cancer and debilitating blood clots ravished her body. She faced her battle with great courage and strength. There are others: Vicky, Mary, Sarah, April, Michael, Jasmine and many more whom I know and who have battled, or are currently battling cancer in some form or other. They are heroes to me!

Let me also mention the “cloud of witnesses” who are watching MY journey with cancer in the here and now. My family, my friends as well as those who read and follow this blog are watching how I face this health challenge. Will I be found faithful?

Pray for me, dear ones.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

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Happy Dance!

I am a walking, dancing, miracle this morning! I should be in the throes of battling excruciating neuropathy pain, the nasty side effect I’ve dealt with over the last two rounds after chemo, but instead in this third round I am so far pain-free and praising God for answering our prayers!

I don’t know if I can adequately express in words my thankfulness for all the prayers lifted up on my behalf. To those who leave comments, I am humbled by your words of encouragement.

I will admit I had real misgivings going into this round. I am a wimp when it comes to pain. Round Two had been so challenging for me, I dreaded being in that state again this go-round. The prescribed pain-killers had little to no effect on controlling the neuropathy I was experiencing. It was sheer misery. Then, to make matters worse, a blood clot further complicated things and I truly questioned why God was allowing all this to happen to me. I questioned Him in 2001 as well when I battled breast cancer. I remember crying out, “Why me, Lord?” I was surprised by His response to me then and I remembered it this time too.

“Why not you?”

God’s response was profoundly impacting. How arrogant was I then, and now, to think that I should be somehow spared hardship? What claim do I have to any of His blessings really? Is it through my own works or merit? No. Am I better than another in my acts or deeds? Absolutely not! Let’s face it, God didn’t spare His only Son! Why in the world would I even question His authority over my life?

I am ashamed. Forgive me, Lord. I don’t deserve Your Grace and yet You have poured it over me again. You heard my feeble prayers and answered them more abundantly than I could have imagined.

This morning during my devotions I prayed back this precious scripture to the Lord:

Psalm 30 ” I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit. Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you favoured me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed. To you, Lord I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.” You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

Amen!

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Half Way There!

My daughter texted me a cute giphy, while I was hooked up to my IV yesterday for my 3rd round of chemo, of Bon Jovi singing, “Woah, we’re half way there!  Woah, livin’ on a prayer!”  For those of you less techy types, a giphy is a little snippet of a video, a meme, an animated sticker like an emoji to convey an emotion or celebration and the like.  Yesterday, Laurelle’s little pick-me-up was to celebrate my half-way mark of my chemo treatments.  It’s way more palatable to say I’m halfway there rather than remembering I have three more treatments to go!  Fractions have never been my friends but in this case I’ll take it!

I know that the next days ahead will be the challenging ones if the first two go-rounds are any indication.  I will be relying on prayer, and hopeful that the new pain meds I’ve been given will combat the neuropathy pain that has plagued me the last two rounds.

Yesterday, I took special note of the dozen or so individuals who were sequestered as I in our somewhat private cubicles at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary.  Each of us hooked up to our IV’s, some with family keeping them company during their chemo session.  My husband, sitting beside me, patiently waits with me and looks up seafood restaurants on his phone.  It has become our custom after my treatments to go for a fish feed dinner.  It is a way for me to get in a good meal that has staying power for me, and it is a date night at the same time.  Bless his heart!

I don’t know the names of the people around me.  I don’t know their individual stories.  They all wear their battle scars.  The ages are varied.  One young woman, accompanied by her mother I’m guessing, wears a ball cap over her bald head.  An elderly, but stately-looking woman is asleep in her chair, her wig slightly askew on her head.  Her granddaughter knits in a chair beside her.  A middle-aged man, jokes with the nurses.  He somehow forgot about his appointment and frantic family members finally found him outside having a smoke.  (I will never understand people going through chemo smoking.  Just sayin’.)  He’s obviously a favorite patient with the nurses.  He is upbeat and positive, with a hearty laugh.  His hacking cough however, bemoans his journey with lung cancer.  An elderly man is wrapped up in a blanket.  His face is puffed and his eyes dark-circled, indicating a hard-fought battle.  His sweet wife brings him a glass of water as she kisses his cheek and tucks the blanket around his legs lovingly.  These are the faces of brave warriors.  I bow my head and offer a prayer for each of them.

I know what each of those dear ones will face over the next week when the side-effects hit each one of us.  Each of our chemo “cocktails” will determine the extent of different side-effects but each of us will battle through it, as I will, because we have no choice.  The people who sit beside us are counting on us to weather the storm so we can memory-make with them a little longer.

Life is fragile, handle with prayer.  I embroidered a wall-hanging with that phrase when we were first married.  Looking around that room yesterday, my thoughts were on the fragility of life and the fact that if it were not for the prayer warriors in my life, praying that morning and everyday for me, I don’t think I could face another treatment, let alone three more!  Prayer sustains me.  I am “living on a prayer!”

My friend sent me a wonderful verse today: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”  Isaiah 61:1-3

I would never egotistically think that my mission today compares to Isaiah’s then.  However, I gladly claim the promise of sharing a “crown of beauty” an “oil of joy” and a “garment of praise” with those I have contact with in person and online.  It is a hard journey, but God is ever faithful.  He is with me.  He answers prayer.

I can rejoice because I am halfway through my chemo treatments and everyday I AM LIVING ON A PRAYER!

Just for fun, and since I’m a Bon Jovi fan from way back, I’m posting the “Livin’ On a Prayer” video for those of you who would like to rock out with me…and I dedicate it to Cathy M….

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