The past few weeks have felt like I was riding a seesaw. A seesaw dominated by someone who enjoys watching you stuck high in the air.
Where I Stand
I have completed six treatments in this round of chemotherapy.
I usually make it somewhere around ten to twelve treatments before changing to “maintenance chemo.” Maintenance chemo is the same schedule with reduced drugs. The plan will be to continue maintenance chemo until my body says, “ENOUGH!”
I have returned to the world of balancing quality vs. quantity of life. It is a strange place to be.
If you know me, you understand I am all about moving forward, achieving, and making sure we do the best we can with what has been given us. That Dan meets any hint of lowering drug amounts or slowing treatments with an adamant, “hell no.” (You will forgive me)
The Dan, whose body has undergone close to five years of chemotherapy, sits and ponders what it would be like to take a break. Quality over quantity can be made to sound appealing.
The treatment is working.
The numbers connected with my bloodwork are all heading in the right direction.
My most recent scans show that the largest tumor on my liver is shrinking. It was 9 x 7 cm, and today it is 7 x 5 cm.
A friend of mine once said, “Your body just loves chemotherapy.” For some reason, that is true. My body does seem to respond to these systemic chemotherapy treatments. For that, I am eternally grateful.
I Will Not Lie.
This round of treatment has been the hardest yet. Doctor Saroha is not surprised. With each round of treatment, my body has learned what to expect. It prepares itself for the assault of the chemotherapy, which is saving my life.
I have learned to manage things like anticipatory nausea. Yes, that is a thing. Sunday evening before treatment, I begin to feel ill. My body knows what is coming. It is preparing for the treatment and telling me to get ready. It is crazy how our bodies work.
Even though treatment has been challenging, I am blessed to be able to say, the treatment appears to be working. Over time Dr. Saroha expects to see a diminishing return with future treatments. That is part of what makes it so hard to say “lower the dose” when we talk about quality vs. quantity.
Years ago, I was in the Dominican Republic with a group of college students from Western New England University. We were there as part of a spring break service project. We taught English in a few local schools and found other ways to serve the people of the community. One of our greatest joys was simply playing with the children of the orphanage where we stayed. Each afternoon we would have a few hours of fun and games, just sharing life with the children who called the orphanage home.
One of the kids’ favorite toys was the seesaw. They would play on that thing for hours. Their joy, in the midst of chaos, poverty, and hardship, has remained an encouragement to me.
A few weeks ago, I found myself reflecting on that seesaw.
I feel like I am riding that old rusted seesaw.
The Ups & Downs
Some days I find myself full of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement for what the Spirit of God is doing in and through my life.
Other days I am so tired it is all I can do to grab a few hours of activity between naps.
I want nothing more than to find balance and consistency, yet it eludes me.
One morning I awake full of energy, with a mind that is fully functioning. My day is filled with productivity as I craft messages, make phone calls, return emails, and plan for the future.
The next day, I have to read a single paragraph four times to grasp what the author is trying to communicate. It is not that the author is profound, my mind is clouded, and it takes me longer to understand and retain what is being shared.
Stuck On The Seesaw
If you ride the seesaw, there will be up days and down days.
To be honest, the ups and downs are what make life exciting.
The exhilaration of being at the top, feeling as if you are living at the top of the seesaw. Slowly heading downward, towards a season of difficulty. Crashing down, only to be lifted again.
I am reminded of my friends in the Dominican Republic. No matter where they were, they approached it all as JOY.
Grateful for the opportunity to ride the seesaw, they filled the air with squeals of laughter, shouts of panic, followed by sheer exhilaration. They rode the seesaw for all it was worth.
How can we mirror their energy, their enthusiasm for life when the seesaw gets difficult?
During this seesaw season, I have found encouragement in what some may consider an unlikely place.
During one of my down periods, I stumbled across Coldplay’s performance of their album “Everyday Life.”
As the title track begins, it sounds like the cry of someone stuck at the bottom of the seesaw.
“What in the world are we going to do, look at what everyone is going through…everyone hurts, everyone cries, everyone tells each other all kinds of lies, everyone falls, everyone dreams and doubts, everyone gets their heart ripped out…”
In the midst of the song, something slowly transforms. There is a call to joy, a call to hope.
“Got to keep dancing when the lights go out.”
Even amidst the struggle, there is something deeper going on.
The song ends by repeating the word hallelujah (Praise God). It reminds me of a young child smiling while atop the seesaw.
No matter what happens, I will keep dancing. I will keep praising the one who came to “set captives free.”
May you have the eyes, ears, heart, and mind to sense the Spirit of God alive well and at work in your world.
May you keep dancing, even if the seesaw is on rock bottom.
To listen to Coldplay’s “Everyday Life”