Missing the Familiar
Monday, March 5th meant the second round of chemo. My nurses were not there. Jeri was in San Francisco with family and Meghan was home with a sick child. That left me in the hands of people I was not used to. They did a fine job but I am learning things about myself. The older I get and the longer this treatment goes I am becoming a creature of habit and routine.
Nancy and I were sitting in the waiting room when one of the nurses came out to get another patient for treatment. We both realized my “normal” nurses were not there. Nancy looked at me and smiled. “You will be okay.” She knew I was thinking of leaving and coming back another day. I stuck it out and the treatment went well. My nurse was someone I had never worked with before. I opted for limited interaction and extended sleep time. On my way out of the treatment area I stopped by one of the offices to make sure “my nurses” would be back next treatment. There is something about their familiarity and the rapport we have built that makes the day almost enjoyable.
A Hard Week
This past week has been a hard week. I am only on treatment number two but I feel like I did when I was eight or nine treatments in last round. There was no energy rush thanks to the steroids. I felt tired and weary most of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Physically I was weak and tired easily.
Emotionally it was another season of adjustment. I was forced to come to grips that I was no “master of chemotherapy” and this was going to be at least as rough as last time. There were times where my mind was cloudy and I had to really search for what used to be simple answers or ideas. “Chemo brain” is a very real thing and is what I fear most as I go through treatment. I do not like the brain fog. I often feel like I have to work for the simplest of thoughts or ideas.
Have you noticed how many Cancer commercials there are on television these days? There are moments I want nothing more than to sit down and “escape” my reality by watching some television. It seems that during every commercial break there is at least one reminder of the fight I am in. Part of me is thankful for all the commercials. It is a reminder that there are brilliant minds hard at work searching for a cure.
Nancy is quick to point out that the last few movies we watched together included the story of someone who lost their battle with cancer. We certainly did not plan it that way. There were surprise plot twists or subplots that we were not aware of when we started the movie. When it becomes clear what is happening Nancy looks over at me and speaks in a very accusatory tone, “did you know this was in the movie!” I manage a weak laugh but my heart hurts for her.
There have been times this past week when Nancy has stopped whatever she has been doing just to sit and be still with me. She will look over at me and say, “I am sorry.” I understand she is sorry that I have to travel this journey. Often I think it is harder for her than for me. She has to watch the transformation and try to figure out where I am emotionally. There are times I am moving like a gladiator ready to do battle with this disease. Moments later I am weary and tired, ready to just simply be still and allow the effects of the disease and treatment to wash over me. Nancy is in a tricky spot, it is often hard to discern exactly which place I am moving from by simply looking at me. So, she is sorry, sorry I have to walk this road and sorry she has to watch me transform in front of her.
Glimmers of Grace
In 2 Corinthians 12 the Apostle Paul writes of a “thorn in the flesh.” Something given him, that he prayed for God to remove, and yet it remained. The apostle writes;
Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10
This week I have been forced to confront my weakness and blessed to see the power of Christ at work in this world. I was weak, yet moved into times of need and God moved. There were conversations that helped people grow and mature. I watched a friend take courageous steps forward in their journey. God allowed me to be a part of it. I gathered with a group of friends as we walked through some of the most difficult relationship things you can experience. We talked openly, honestly and ended our time sharing communion together. It was a reminder that while our relationships may be fractured we remain sisters and brothers in Christ. I watched three local churches from different denominations come together to serve others. I may have been weak but the power of Christ was strong.
Part of my struggle this past week is that I am rehashing issues I thought resolved. I thought I had grown past some of this stuff and yet here it is all over again. Take away my ability to “do” and I wrestle with my sense of “value and worth.” This was one of the things I gave Cancer credit for “healing me of.” Moving in weakness had taught me that “life to the full” has more to do with being and little to do with achieving or doing. I had learned to move as a being in relationship with God…comfortable with the reality that there was much that was going to be left undone. Three weeks in to this round of chemo and my desk looks like a mountain of papers topped off with a few pink phone call notes and the anxiety rises. There is not enough energy in my body to get it all done…what gets cast aside? What does it say about your value, your worth that you are unable to accomplish and achieve? There I am, frustrated and angry at the situation. Disappointed, that these feelings are right back front and center. Weak, tired, frustrated, angry, and disappointed; sounds like a place that can quickly spiral out of control if one is not careful.
Into that reality shine Glimmers of Grace.
Into that reality speak the words of Paul, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
So, I am a man who craves naps, sometimes moments after I awake. My brain is sometimes in a fog, to the point where I am unclear as to which end is up. I am easily overwhelmed and frustrated by that which used to engage and energize me. I am weak. Yet in the midst of that weakness dwells the power and strength of Jesus Christ. I will learn to be content with my weakness so that the strength of Christ may shine through me.
God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good