I had to look up the word “penultimate” when she sent me the text. It means “second to last” and she was referring to my Round 5 of chemo. Sue was encouraging me by pointing out that I am nearly done chemo. The finish line is close but I’m still in the throes of battle and I admit these few days have been challenging. It seems every round has a new spin on unpleasantness. Neuropathy pain in the first round, a blood clot in the second, mind-numbing tiredness and nausea in the third and fourth rounds. Today, five days into round five it’s all about dizziness. The bouts of light-headedness overtake me so suddenly I have to negotiate my way around the house very carefully. I weeble wobble from room to room. I sort of look like Tim Conway in his comedy sketches where he portrays an old, feeble man except nothing is funny or laughable about what I’m going through. I shuffle around in slow motion, arms outstretched to maintain my balance. Climbing stairs is a cardio workout. My husband follows me, prepared to catch me if I should lose my balance. Combined with continuous joint discomfort that the last doctor is now calling myalgia of some sort, I don’t do a lot of moving. It frustrates me, but I’m okay, all things considered.
Yesterday my young friend who has been battling Stage Four metastatic Breast cancer for a few years, posted a picture of herself starting new chemo treatments after doctors discovered progression of the disease on her liver. She’s been battling like a super hero since first diagnosed while at the same time homeschooling her three young children and being a supportive wife to her husband. With a smile and thumbs up, the picture of Sarah yesterday got me so choked up I started to weep. She has to be the most courageous woman I’ve ever met! She is a prayer warrior. I am in awe of her strength and abiding faith. Gentle readers, please pray for Sarah as she battles fiercely on once again!
There are several others whom I have prayed for over these many months who bravely face their cancer diagnoses and their subsequent treatments with hopeful resolve and unwavering strength. Each one of them have admitted to me that if it were not for their walk with God they would not know how to get through each day. I understand. Clinging to His Word, every chemo round is a new opportunity for transformation. I can’t help but change! I hope my physical health improves with each treatment, but I am also counting on God to use this experience so I can be used for His purposes in ways I never thought of before.
I hope I am more empathetic and show more compassion to those who struggle with health issues. I hope I don’t try to compare my journey with theirs. One thing I have learned is everyone’s experience with cancer is different. I have reacted to my chemo treatments differently than another who is on the exact same drugs as me. My personality, support system, health care providers and a host of other tangible and intangible things affect how I handle my treatments. My personal, familial history also affects how I respond in every circumstance. I hope I am modelling more spiritual maturity now than I did nineteen years ago. My goal is to be as encouraging as I can be to others no matter what their individual journeys may be like. They are heroes in their own right. I just want to applaud and cheer them on!
My prayer life has definitely changed as a result of my experience with cancer. How could it not change? I have sought prayer for myself and others and have seen God answer prayer in miraculous ways. I have expected God to intervene in every instance and I’ve not been disappointed. It doesn’t mean God answered according to my will but His. It’s being okay with that. Relinquishing control is a daily surrender.
My relationships with family and friends have changed. I pray I never take them for granted. I am so blessed! Cancer continues to teach me that I am not meant to go through any hardship relying on my own strength or thinking I am alone. I can be “real” and share my ups and downs with them knowing they will immediately pray for me. There is a tendency for me to put on a brave front and not show my vulnerability. My family and close friends allow me to let down my guard and share openly about the challenges I face going through treatments. I’m not Super Woman, I’m just me. I’m scared, I hurt, I get discouraged, but God is bigger than my fears and anxiety and He’s surrounded me with people who remind me of that every day!
I continue to covet all your prayers, dear readers.