(Previously published September 29, 2010)
Chemo has this way about it. It is sneaky. It plays with your mind and your body and ultimately wreaks havoc producing nausea and fatigue. It wants to bring you down and your body has to fight with all its might to regain and reestablish a stable state. And it tries to weaken you to the point of breaking. But it doesn't happen all at once.....that's how it is sneaky. As the chemo gets pumped through your veins, you don't feel a thing. But as the afternoon turns into evening, extreme tiredness takes up residence in your body that seems to linger for a couple of days. A friend this weekend referred to Adriamyacin as the "red devil." I think that name is pretty accurate on all fronts.
I had my third chemo treatment last Thursday. My oncologist had told me that the longer you get chemo, as it accumulates in my body, the more effect it will have and the more tired I will become.
I am tired.
This last treatment was the hardest. It tricked me this time, though. I left the Cancer Center on Thursday afternoon feeling just fine. My in-laws were in town for the week and I had extra hands on deck each day. It was a dream! I felt full of energy from a week of extra help. As the evening ensued, so did the fatigue and by about 7:30 or so, off to bed I went. I awoke Friday morning feeling rested and was off an running. Nausea was an undertone throughout the day, but I have grown accustomed to that after my treatments. Overall, I was surprised at how good I felt on Friday. Saturday morning, I went in early for my Neulasta shot (it helps my blood rebuild for the next treatment) and then onto the football field for Seth's game that morning. As friends asked how I was doing, I joyfully said, "great!" and truly, I was feeling good and so glad to be at the field. And that's how this chemo thing works....one minute you feel great and the next you feel cut off at the knees. I thought I would sail through treatment number 3 and be on my way.....but by later that afternoon, my body was slowly shutting down and crying out for rest. I crawled into bed late Saturday afternoon, as we had dinner plans that evening with friends. I slept for a few hours, but just didn't bounce back as I expected.
Sunday came quickly and was filled with more children's activities. And as Monday approached, I still didn't feel 100 percent. I was frustrated, tired and struggling on many fronts.
You see, as the fatigue begins to take over my body after these treatments, it becomes so hard to get out of bed in the morning. I now have to retire earlier than usual in the evening, as well. I set my alarm for 5:00 AM each night and just can't seem to get up. I actually turn my alarm off in my sleep and I don't even have the alarm clock set next to my bed. It is on the floor toward the end of my bed. Crazy, I know. This has plagued me since college. It has become a joke actually. Barclay just laughs when he sees me setting it.
But, oh how I need to get up early before the children. That time is precious. It is the time when I get recharged, refreshed and filled so that I can make it through the day. It is the time that is reserved for me and God.
Well, chemo has snuck in and tried to rob that from me and I've let it these last couple of days.
How I long for the lazy summer mornings on the front porch. How I need that time.
And what resulted was the perfect storm. My body was weakened, my mind distracted, and my soul was dry and thirsty. And I struggled. I was depleted on all sides, but being pushed on all sides.
That is where I have been these last couple of days......in the desert waging war against the drugs that are suppose to fight this cancer but are bringing me down.
It isn't a good place. And all I wanted to do was run and hide. Seek shelter.
This morning that is what I did.
I cried out to my Jesus. He got me out of bed before the children awoke and I sat at my desk with my Bible open and began pouring out my heart in prayer.
As the tears streamed down my face, God clearly began speaking to my heart. As God knows my heart intimately, I mean let's face it, He created it.....He sees the cobwebs of sin and pride...He sees what man cannot. He began to bring to my mind a verse in the midst of my prayers. He began speaking to me....
"in returning and rest you shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall by your strength."
Now, I've got to tell you. God has spoken to me many times and many times very clearly, but never quite like this. These words kept flooding my heart as I kept on praying, so much so that I stopped praying, opened my computer to Blue Letter Bible to find where this verse was in the Bible.
Guess what the next verse says....."But you would not."
My heart stopped.
It all goes back to a choice.
You see on Tuesday morning, as I was so distraught, distracted, agitated, tired and just plain worn out.....I tried to sit with the Lord, but the children had woken up, the day was beginning and children were already calling for me from the four corners of the house needing help with schoolwork. And Jed sat at the table ready for his 1st grade lessons. As I walked out of the office, Barclay said to me, "No Stacy, you need to be with the Lord."
I chose to do Jed's lessons.
And that's how it happens. We choose to put something before the Lord. I put my fatigue, I put my day and all my responsibilities and everything became too big. And that's when the tiredness sets deeply in. And as the chemo is sneaky and takes me by surprise, as Satan so craftily works, so do my choices. Nothing can come before God. If I am not setting time to sit before the Lord, I am empty, I am operating in my own strength and rest is not to be received, no matter how much I sleep or how hard I try.
In returning (repentance) and rest (resting in the Lord) you shall be saved. In quietness and confidence (utter trust) shall be your strength.
And as my eyes continued to read through the rest of the chapter, to my amazement I began reading one of the exact verses God had spoken to my heart 8 years ago after our son Joshua went home to be with the Lord. At a time that I was crying out to the Lord once again.
He is so faithful. He so intimately meets us if we would just call out to Him. Come and be fed by His Word. He restores. He refreshes. He is patient. He is gracious. He makes the path straight.
"Therefore, the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the LORD is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem;
You shall weep no more.
He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry;
When He hears it, He will answer you.
And though the Lord gives you
The bread of adversity and the water of affliction,
Yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore,
But your eyes shall see your teachers.
Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying,
This is the way, walk in it." Isaiah 30:18-21
He is the way. The only way.
And through this maze of cancer, chemo and treatments, and all else that comes along my path, He will tell me the way to go, if I would just seek Him and spend time with Him.
With God's strength, this chemo will not take me down. It may weaken me. It may set in and cause my body to fight like it has never fought before, but it won't have me. And I pray that even though it is a poison to my body, it will be a healer of any remnant cancer cells floating through my body. And that what Satan desires for evil.....God desires for good. That in this chemo journey, in this fight, I would run even harder into the arms of my heavenly Father and see Him face to face. Know Him more deeply than I have ever known Him before.
And so today is a new day. My body is still tired, but my spirit is refreshed and refueled. God says "man cannot live on bread alone, but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." This is what Jesus said to Satan as He was temped in the desert. He hadn't eaten in 40 days. I'm sure He was quite tired and His body was weak. But I also believe He was strong. He had just been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. He was strong as He had spent time with His Father. In quietness and confidence was His strength. He trusted in His Father. Bread will fuel our body, but not our spirit or soul. We need God's Word. I need His Word each day.
...........and in quietness and confidence is my strength.