I have been slowly, but surely recovering from my last chemo treatment. I have discovered that with each round, it’s taken a little bit longer to come out of the “fog”, and I have been impatient and frustrated I haven’t bounced back as quickly as I had hoped. Part of the frustration, is the very real fear of having another cancer reoccurrence. Admittedly, there have been times I have listened to that inner, pessimistic voice (the enemy) who discourages rather than encourages me. It’s a very real battle, that affects me in some ways more than any chemo side effects do. It becomes a heart issue of questioning what I believe about God and what I believe He can or cannot do.
Mark 9:23-25 ““‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
It is normal for all cancer patients after diagnosis to be somewhat hyper-sensitive to any new or lingering symptom after treatment fearing that it might be cancer making a comeback. Any ache or pain, or tummy upset or ANY bodily discomfort is cause for worry. Even though I’ve heard from two doctors now that I am cancer-free, the fear of reoccurrence has been something I’ve thought a lot about. I’ve said it before, but I am sure I have a form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to some extent. The thought of going through more chemo, nearly paralyzes me with fear. Apparently, I’m not alone. Fear of a cancer reoccurrence is something I must acknowledge and recognize, and give completely over to the Lord to deal with in order for me to fully recover. I need to heal from the inside out, and allow God to heal me from the “heart-side out”.
Leading up to my doctor’s appointment yesterday with my surgical oncologist, I fretted over a few nagging discomforts that haven’t dissipated, but have grown worse with each round of chemo. I haven’t taken my own advice to stop “Googling” my symptoms, so prior to my appointment, I had worked myself up into quite a frenzy. When the nurse took my blood pressure, it showed on the outside, my fears on the inside. She asked if I took my blood pressure medication that morning. I had, but my BP was still through the roof! Thankfully, the good folks at the Tom Baker Cancer Center in Calgary, understand their patients, and when I met with the doctor, she patiently listened to all my concerns and addressed each of them in turn, especially reassuring me that none of them indicated a cancer return. “You are cancer free!” she said again, so I felt encouraged and more than a little relieved, and my blood pressure went down…considerably. Then she gave me some practical suggestions how to handle some of those nagging aches I was experiencing, so I would be better able to cope with the side effects that still lingered, without immediately jumping to the conclusion that my cancer was back.
My husband reminded me on the way home from the appointment that I went through much the same thing of doubting myself being cancer-free in 2001. In fact, for several months I wondered what to do with myself after my cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments in 2001. I had fully expected to die and the thought of a life after cancer actually had me quite baffled. What eventually put me on the road to full recovery was engaging in new challenges that took the focus off of me and my circumstances, to allowing myself to open God-sized doors of opportunities, I never thought to open before. I wrote a book, that led to two more. I started blogging. I got my Masters degree, and I took on new ministry roles at my church.
I start radiation treatments on Monday. In about a month, I will be finished with all my cancer treatments. I can’t continue to focus on the years ahead with negativity and wonder when or if I will ever get cancer again. That’s out of my control and I can’t dwell on that. Instead, I would like to expectantly wait for God to open some doors for me that I’ve never considered walking through before. I know that being fully healed and recovering will require some heart changes in me too.
My husband grinned and jokingly suggested, “Maybe this time, you should think about getting a Ph.D.” I don’t know if he saw the change in my expression or not. He had to have noticed that familiar glint in my eye, as I pondered the possibilities.
If God calls me to it, why not?
Well done Lynn ! “Hangeth on in there” ! It’s a huge step forward and the results are very good.
As another survivor, I know exactly what you mean about the worry of every little ache or pain. I’ve found that difficult to control and try to avoid driving everyone nuts ! Also, I think you’re right about post traumatic stress. Even with a complete recovery, cancer does have a massive impact psychologically. I’m in very good health now, but still in a kind of underlying state of shock. Yes, keeping busy and enjoying life are the important things now.
When I’m on a difficult life “journey” I think about what Rick Warren said :
” Remember how far you’ve come, not just how far you have to go. You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be !”
” Hope is as essential to your life as air and water.”