Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cancer Journey - Part 14: Halfway There

A couple of days ago, with my head buried in my hands and tears in my eyes, I muttered to my husband, "I don’t want to do this anymore." The side effects of chemo treatment #4 had set in and I was feeling very uncomfortable. I wanted it to be over, I wanted to be well, I wanted my life to get back to normal. My only consolation was that this 4th treatment was the last BIG chemo treatment for me. There are still 12 more sessions to go, but we’ve been told the rest of these treatments are supposed to be easier. The doc said the first 4 rounds are the hardest because of the combination of meds they give. That is why they were spaced two weeks apart. The next 12 rounds will be once per week, beginning on April 2nd, and they will be using a different med that is supposedly less traumatic to the body. That’s what I’m counting on because, if I knew I had to go through more of these harder ones, I think I would have given up right about now. This has been, by far, the hardest treatment; and I seriously dread going back in a couple of weeks.

My friend, Rachel, is a marathon runner. While her races are on foot, and mine are currently symbolic, I think her thoughts and mine coincide when it comes to running our various types of marathons. At the beginning of a run, Rachel says,
I'm nervous and just want to get it started. I know I've trained but am still anxious about how the day will really go and what obstacles might creep up; the weather, my stomach issues, blisters, other aches and pains. I also have that feeling of  "Seriously? How in the world did you get to this place and WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
That’s how I felt at the beginning of my chemo treatments. I wondered how I had gotten there and was nervous. I was concerned about how the treatments would affect me; but I just wanted to get going with it all and get them done.

I would say, right about now is sort of like the halfway point for me. I am glad the first half is done, and it feels good to have the harder stuff out of the way, but I’m also weary as I don’t see the finish line yet. I’m ready for it to be done NOW! But, if I want to "win the prize" I know I need to keep going. Then, one day soon, I will be seeing that finish line, and I’ll be sprinting my way to the end.

Rachel says, "Afterward I usually can't believe I just did it. I am usually super happy it's over." I assume that is how I will feel also. Then, I’ll look back at what has been accomplished, and I’ll be praising God for getting me and my family through it.

Whatever you are going through right now, I hope this encourages you to keep pressing on. Whether you are at the beginning of your journey, at the halfway point, or nearing the end, keep your eyes focused on the goal. With God's help, you will make it through this... and, I know I will too...


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Mountain is Steep, But I Just Hold His Hand

In my previous post, I mentioned how the 3rd treatment side effects were treating me much nicer this time around. While that is still the case (for the most part), I have had a harder time with fatigue. It should be gone by now, but its not. Its lingering. And I'm tired (physically and emotionally) of being tired.

I'm just being "real" here when I say I want this to end. I want my energy back. I want my life to get back to somewhat of a normal. But I know I've got a long way to go.

So, I press onward... walking the path God has placed before me... facing the mountain of discouragement and trying not to let it bring me down. I MUST press onward, as I know that persevering through this trial will make me stronger in the end.

Photo by:  James D. McIntosh, Sr.
So, I will praise the Lord for this journey I am on. He is there, holding my hand and helping me through it. This was confirmed again to me this morning when I was drawn to browse our church website and began listening to some of the special music that had been recorded in previous weeks. One Sunday in January, our friend Kent sang a song that I had never heard until today. Its a song by Del Way called "I JUST HOLD HIS HAND." How appropriate for my blog in general, but even much more appropriate for this journey I am currently on. Here are the lyrics:

When I don’t know how, and I don’t know why.
When the mountain’s so tall I can’t see the other side.
When there seems to be no way, and I don’t understand,
I just hold His hand, I just hold His hand.

He will lead me and guide me along my way,
He will keep me and hide me, safe in His grace.
When I can’t, thank God He still can.
So, I just hold His hand, I just hold His hand.

When the nights are long, and the valley is low,
When the going gets rough, traveling this road.

When I’m searching for strength, and I need help to stand,
I just hold His hand. I just hold His hand.

Precious Jesus hold my hand, I need thee every hour.
Precious Jesus help me stand, Lord keep me by your power.
Oh Lord, lead me and guide me along my way,
Keep me and hide me, safe in Your grace.
When I can’t, I know you still can,
So I just hold your hand, I’ll just hold your hand.

Thankyou, Lord, for bringing encouragement when its needed. Thankyou for holding our hands and helping us through the difficult times.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cancer Journey - Part 13: Treatment #3 Has Been the Easiest So Far

As I sat in the recliner, working crossword puzzles while getting my 3rd treatment, I was not looking forward to how the treatment was going to make me feel. But, so far, this has been the easiest one on me. The fatigue didn't really hit until 2 days later, and there was very little nausea and some mild heartburn this time around. I believe there are 4 big reasons for this better outcome:

1.  MY DIET:  I have been trying to stay more hydrated and trying to get enough protein. My main "staples" seem to be hard boiled eggs, tuna on rice cakes, nut butters (peanut butter or Nutella), dried fruits, spinach dip with crackers, and things like oatmeal, cream of wheat, and fresh fruits. These are the things that have been keeping me going, not to mention the wonderful meals that have been brought over to help feed me and my family (I have another post coming up about that soon!) I am still having trouble with fatigue, due to the fact that my nausea meds keep me awake at night. But, that will end soon and I will be on the road to another good week before my 4th treatment (which is supposed to be the last HARD one, thankfully!)

2.  MY SUPPORTIVE HUSBAND:  He had been there with me at every appointment. At times, he has needed to bring some of his work with him to the treatments, but just having him by my side is a great comfort. He allows me to rest when I need to rest, helps with the dishes, picks up my meds, and snuggles with me on the couch. I know he loves me, and I know his support has helped me a great deal.

3.  THE SUPPORT OF FRIENDS:  Since my husband has been going with me to treatments, we have had various friends stay with the kids while we go. Knowing they are in good hands is a huge load of stress off of me, and I am so grateful for you all who have been there to watch them, or even just offered.

4.  THE PRAYERS OF OTHERS:  I have received many cards and e-mails from people far and near who have told me they are praying for me. It is a great comfort and strength to know this, and I truly believe it is these prayers of intercession that have made the difference. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the love you have shown me during this time. A simple prayer offered up in my name is a wondrous gift that I treasure, and they are precious to the Lord as well. A new friend of mine, who was also diagnosed with breast cancer last year, sent me a note about this. She said: 
I know that "the prayers of the saints" are what got me through, and I know they'll get you through too. I love Rev. 5:8 - "When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints." The prayers of the saints are so precious to the Lord that they are a sweet smell in golden bowls of incense to Him.  
So, again, I thankyou for your sweet prayers, and I ask that you continue to keep me and my family in your thoughts these coming months.