Friday was a good day.
Friday began with a trip to the oncologist. They seemed encouraged by my progress. My blood work was good, not great. I got the “green light” to go ahead with chemo (round 3) on Monday. They opted to add a shot to this round that will help increase my white blood cell count. I continue to like my oncologist and the team that is there caring for me. Nancy and I left encouraged by the progress and the way the team seems to know who I am and the quality of relationships and care we are developing in such a short time frame.
On the way back to the office we stopped and bought a cake. JAM daycare had received their scores from the Environmental Rating Scale and they had scored a 5.56! It means that JAM will progress to a STARS 3 center and within six months will become a STARS 4 center! Moving up to STARS 4 has been our goal for the past two years and the staff did such a great job that we are jumping over level 3 and going right to level 4. That rating reflects the quality care at the center and opens opportunities for even greater improvement. We had fun celebrating with the staff once we made it back to church.
Later in the afternoon Mark Chandler came by and we completed paperwork so he could officially become our new custodian. Mark has been filling in the past week and has done an outstanding job and we are excited to welcome him on staff at FBC! His work ethic and commitment to making sure things are done correctly and well is much appreciated and will serve the FBC community well. Welcome aboard Mark!
I had one of those sacred and special conversations today. Someone came into my office and as we talked they shared, “I do not know how to talk to you anymore…I do not want to ignore your cancer…but at the same time that does not define you so I do not want to talk only of your cancer…I just do not know how to talk with you anymore.” I appreciated their honesty. It is something I have felt with others and in all honesty have felt myself these past few weeks. To talk only of my cancer feels like I am letting it define me, yet to ignore it feels as if I am not paying attention to the elephant that is charging and crashing its way around the room. We had a great conversation. We talked of life, death, and how to experience “life to the full” in the midst of chaos and turmoil. Our time together was encouraging, challenging and left me encouraged. I could share more…but our conversation was sacred and special. It began with honesty and openness, there may be a lesson in there somewhere.
I went home to rest for a while and on the way returned a phone call to the person who was my spiritual director while I was in MA. It was good to catch up with Kit. We talked about my experiences these days. We shared how God is alive and well, working in the midst of chaos and times of celebration and joy. It was nice to hear how his ministry is taking on a new season and to hear the excitement in his voice as he and Tricia continue to follow the Spirit’s leading.
Later in the evening I went to the Relay for Life. When I arrived Kathy Allaband came up to me and gave me a bag. Inside the bag was the purple “Survivors” shirt. She looked at me and said, “I went ahead and got you one of these because, well you know, you are going to beat this.” A short time later I was ushered to the track and joined others to walk the “Survivors Lap”. It was another special time. I got to walk with Bill Miller. Bill has been fighting cancer for the past year and a half. Watching him fight with dignity and strength has been an encouragement to me. Our time together as we walked the lap together was sacred. For the first time I felt as if I could in some small way understand what Bill’s struggle has been and I knew he understood where I was and what my future held. Part way around the lap my wind wandered and I started smiling. “So, this is what faith looks like…get the Pastor a survivor shirt when he is less than one month into treatment.” It made me smile and helped lift up my spirits. I made it around the track…I did not win the race…but I finished the lap. Next year I will be back and when they hand me my purple shirt my treatment / recovery will be in a very different place. Whenever I start to get down, or wonder what is going on I am going to get my “Survivor shirt” and wear it for a while and remember Kathy’s faith.
Friday was a good day.
A few months ago I would have moved through a day like Friday jumping from one thing to the next. Cancer has forced me to slow down. It has forced me to move at a pace which allows me to see people and experiences for what they are and to embrace and enjoy the moment instead of always looking ahead to what is next. I am thankful for that gift. I pray I will continue to move that way once this Cancer thing is in the rear view mirror.