(Previously published September 13, 2010)
You are all treasures that I hold close to my heart, each one of you, who has spoken words of encouragement, cheered me onward and upward, and reminded me again and again that we are each on a journey....a journey toward the heart of God. Toward knowing Him more fully and making Him more fully known. You have thronged God's throne of grace and mercy on our behalf and lifted my name to the very one who holds my life in His hands. You have poured on us the love of Christ. You have loved us. You have made the road a little less rocky, and a little easier to walk. I am so humbled to be the recipient of so much love.
Thank you for your comments here and on Facebook, for the cards received, the gifts in the mail from those whom I've never even met face to face, the flowers, the financial contributions, the emails, the phone calls....you've shown you cared and for that I say "thank you." It doesn't seem like enough, and yet I pray that God showers down His abundant blessings on each of you in ways that I never could. God has used each of you to touch places of my heart intimately. "I thank God upon each remembrance of you." Phil 1:3
Chemo Round 2......
We made it through Round 2! My second chemo treatment was last Thursday. Barclay was called into surgery that day, and my precious friend, Beth, once again stepped right in to hold my hand and laugh me through treatment. I think the nurses might think we are a bit crazy. God has knitted our hearts together not only through His Son, Jesus Christ, but through our losses (miscarriages and deaths) and through the triumphs we have celebrated over the years as God has reigned victorious in our lives and taught our hearts to trust Him even more. Thank you, Beth. Thanks for traveling one more road by my side, for not being afraid to press in, for loving me enough to keep checking in on me.
Here is one of my nurses, Kelly. She, was a little reluctant to be photographed, but finally agreed. Thanks, Kelly! She brings more laughter, lots of reassurance and plenty of smiles on a day that you just wish would be crossed quickly off the calendar and fade into a distant memory. She and all the other chemo nurses help make the process a little less painful.
I had been prepared by my oncologist that my first chemo will pretty much determine how I'll feel throughout my course of treatment. The biggest change will be with fatigue. Fatigue will become more prevalent the longer the treatment continues and as the drugs build up in the body. So far, I'm managing. I was thankful to still have an appetite Thursday evening, but by about 7:00PM, the nausea began and my body was just worn out. I crawled into bed allowing my body to just rest. Friday arrived with about the same. A general feeling of nausea, a little fatigue and not much of an appetite. But I am functioning and able to continue with daily activities, and for that I am really thankful. Saturday brought one more day of the same and then by Sunday, I was back up and running...and Monday....back to myself. It is one crazy cycle, but I'll take the normal for as long as I can get it and praise God for the reprieve He gives.
The Final Strands of Hair.....
After the initial head shaving last Wednesday, I knew that the fuzz that covered my head would be temporary. As the hair follicle closes from the chemo, it releases the hair. Over the weekend, it became evident as I would run my hand over the top of my head....tiny strands of hair would be left laying in my hand. And as I laid my head down Sunday night, prickles ran over the top of my head making it uncomfortable laying down. By Monday morning, I could just pull the tiny spikes from my head with ease. It was time.
My friend, Hillary, who is a breast cancer survivor, had told me that when she came to this stage, her hair came out in her hands while showering. As the prospect of this seemed a bit overwhelming, I asked my rock of a husband to assist me in this process over the kitchen sink. Of course, I didn't do anything but hang my head in the sink. He did all the work. We are truly walking through the "in sickness and in health" part of our vows as we committed our lives and hearts together through Christ in marriage 16 years ago. And God is using cancer to establish our marriage as never before. As we embrace each step together seeking God first, He is building, unifying and teaching us both. Barclay is a true example of a man of God and God has given me the blessing and privilege of calling him husband and being his wife.
Cancer has given me perspective. Cancer has given me a deeper love for Barclay. Cancer has shown me that each day is truly a gift from God and we can either take that gift and grumble, complain and be angry or we can take that gift and have joy, contentment and peace. The choice is ours. And cancer has shown me that my deepest fears can be met face on with Christ, who is faithful and just, and with Him what seems like a mountain becomes a spring welling up with living water, if only we will let go to the power, majesty and love of Christ. He will rain down.
Onto the sink we went....ready to let all the remaining pieces of hair fall. As Barclay gently (but vigorously) washed my hair, he had put our worship mix on in the background. Together, he and I praised God for who He is and all that He has done. And as God so intimately does, He met us in that moment. When our son, Joshua went home to be with the Lord, we had chosen the music at his funeral very purposely. There was a song entitled, "He Knows My Name" that was poignant for us because it speaks to not only the power of God, but His tender heart, His love for all of us and all knowing character. As the hair was being washed away, as Barclay gently held the razor in his hand, shaving....God reminded us that He is our maker, He sees our tears and He hears me as my heart is overwhelmed and cries out to Him. Before the very foundation of the is world....He knew. And as each subsequent song rang out through my ipod, God met me as He reminded me over and over again of who He is. That is where my heart needs to lie everyday....in who He is. As the water washed over my head, so His Spirit washed over my soul.
The hair is now all gone. And what remains, I pray is so much more.
More of Him and less of Me.
"He must increase, but I must decrease." John 3:30
Again, I am truly blessed and my heart if full. I am savoring the gifts God has placed into my life.....cancer being one of them. I don't understand His ways....but you know what, I don't need to...all I need to do is continually trust Him and allow Him to finish the work He desires to do that I may be changed forever for Him and His glory.
May today, you cherish and thank God for the gifts He has placed in your life....
each and every one of them.