Friday, May 8, 2015

Up....Down; Up.....Down

Cancer treatments have very high highs and very low lows. We go up, we go down, we feel like we're going in circles at times. Chemotherapy is toxic, lifesaving poison. Without it, the cancer would eventually take over till a person dies. With it, a person might wish they would just die because the after-effects are so severe.

A great high for us is that my husband's tumor, which started this whole mess, which kept him awake at night in pain, which caused his daily life to be completely centered on managing the pain, is no longer an issue. He's no longer numb, no longer writhing in pain till it's time for more meds, no longer altering his life to accommodate and control it. The chemo has shrunk the tumor until it can no longer wreck the havoc it was wrecking on him even just a month ago.

Another high is the healing of his hematoma. They are not fun. Even though it was an internal injury, it caused severe external symptoms and pain. All that has finally subsided. It is hard to watch a loved one suffer and not be able to do anything about the suffering.

Another high is the fellowship of fellow cancer survivors. We had no idea that so many friends and acquaintances are cancer survivors and having this news revealed to us at this time is incredibly encouraging. We are so very thankful for social media which makes keeping in touch with people, and getting back in touch with people, so easy.

We are not immune to the downs, though. The pain, nausea, lack of energy, robbery of motivation and overall sacrifice of our family are things that can get us down. David comes home from work and often can't join us for dinner, even if he's home on time, because he has to lie down and take an hour-long nap before he can even function. Our time as a couple is severely limited while he rests more, giving his all to provide for us and do his treatments. The chemo cocktails work in his system for weeks, so the symptoms progress accordingly. The first few days after chemo, he actually feels pretty good because they give him steroids to help. But, when the steroids stop, he crashes and the next week is incredibly challenging. The week after that, he starts to regain some energy, just in time for another round of chemo that will knock him down again.

I understand. The kids understand. We all understand. But, we do not like it. I have decided it's ok to get down about these things. How can we not? How can we not be upset that our kids don't get much time with their dad, or that he's had to use all his vacation days for chemo so there will be no vacation this year or that we can barely have a conversation some evenings? It's ok to grieve the things cancer takes from you and your family. Grieving these things is normal, healthy and right. If you're suffering through something hard and want to grieve, just do it and without apology.

The encouragement we get from other cancer survivors is universally compassionate. Not one of them has said, "Choose happiness!" as though it will make things all better. They have all simply shown compassion. They are a lot like Jesus, Who showed compassion to so many. He showed compassion even to people his disciples tried to keep away from Him. Compassion is a rare thing, we have learned. Very rare, indeed.

Yesterday, while waiting at the chiropractor's office for my daughter, the gal at the desk asked me if I'd like to sit in the massage chair. I told her I'm not yet a patient, but she didn't care. She hooked me up nicely in that chair and for the next 10 minutes, I enjoyed a full-body massage that made me cry. Her compassion touched me. I thanked her and she said, "You looked like you could use that," so I guess, to some, the tension in my life shows.

Today, I am thankful for the relief my hubby is experiencing. I'm thankful for smart, compassionate people who encourage us along the way. I'm thankful for our kids and how they have rallied around us and stepped up to show their love. (My Mother's Day has already started with flowers on my doorstep.) I'm also thankful for my sisters, who call, email and text to check up on us often.

I'm not trying to think positive or choose happiness; I believe my gratefulness is completely of God, from God and because of God.  If left to myself, I suppose I would curl up in a state of depression and feel sorry for myself.  Instead, our God chose gratefulness for us and poured it over us.

Praise be.

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