Some people ask if chemo therapy hurts. No. It’s as silent and sneaky as the disease of cancer itself. Of course if you are like me and you don’t like needles, don’t like looking at them or feeling them, then I’d say- yep being a human pin cushion hurts. Otherwise, the only thing you can feel is the cold liquid pumping into your veins. Then a few days later it sneaks up on you with a queasy stomach, head ache, metallic taste in your mouth and a wide variety of other side effects that peak about 10 days after the drip. Weeks later you may lose your hair, coloring, nails and sense of humor. This is what happens when poison is used to eliminate fast growing rebellious cells.
So where can a cancer fighting patient find joy? It’s in all the beautiful people you meet along the way of the journey. Yesterday I had my second round of treatment and went to a beauty class all in one day. The class was called “Look Good Feel Better.” A nonprofit organization that generously gives beauty supplies to women going through chemo treatment. I found them when I was doing my research months ago through the American Cancer Society. I went to get support and encouragement, but quickly found that giving support and encouragement felt way more natural. Everyone was in the same treatment stage. They had either just had their second round or going to have it in a few days. We compared war stories like old army buddies. We giggled at our bald heads, no eyebrows while swapping new wigs, scarves and hats. “Look Good Feel Better” gave us a healthy supply of new make-up which we applied in each other’s company while exploring new colors and techniques. For a couple of hours yesterday, I found a spot of humanity in this whole process. I forgot that I was being treated for cancer and just felt the kindred friendship of my new buddies. It occurred to me that this was just the same feeling as the first day on a new job, sitting next to a stranger, the first day of school and maybe even the first time behind a wheel. It is just a new experience.
Then reality hit at the very end of class when my new friend Carol age 70, a real pistol, told me that her daughter 45-year-old Dawn was in Chicago dying of liver cancer as she was battling breast cancer. I could have sat there for hours to talk with her as the facilitator were turning out the lights and picking up the trash. I’ll pray for you Carol and Dawn too as I waved good-bye! My God, why? Why must this woman be tormented to be away from her dying daughter while she takes her own cancer treatment? All of a sudden my circumstance became so minimal.
I have been forced to stand at the door of mortality and knock to see if the door was open. It takes a little more courage to do that then knocking on doors to sell Girl Scout cookies, but not much more. Without Jesus, I would not be strong enough to do this. The most courageous person I know is my sister. Once we were standing on her front lawn at 2 am in the morning and a car came screeching by out of control. It slammed into a block wall perpendicular to her house. I gasped and put my hand over my mouth in disbelief. I was paralyzed by the sight. My sister’s reaction set her feet into motion and she ran across the street to see if the crumbled up car had a survivor. There was a girl inside still alive and a call was made to 911. All of this happened before my hand came away from my mouth. I was paralyzed with fear and no courage.
I don’t watch scary movies because I know that my lack of courage will keep me up at night. Cancer is one crazy scary movie! So, when people say that I am courageous and brave. I just laugh because I know that’s not me! That has to be God in me. His word says to focus on noble things, so I do. His Word says that I (the weak) am strong, therefore I am. His Word says that He will strengthen me and I have witnessed this first hand. Thank goodness that the weakness in my character, basically a coward, is where God is illuminated in me.
Several times Christian women have spoken out and told me that they felt the need to encourage me with Psalm 91. There was one young lady who is a friend of my son who had a beautiful quilt made with scriptures all over it for me and sent it home with a book about Psalm 91. What a blessing it has been to read line by line details about this promise of protection in Psalm 91. The verse that jumps right on my heart is
A thousand shall fall at you’re your side, and ten thousand at your right hand;
but it shall not come near you.
I believe that I am healed. Not by my own understanding, but that of my God. I can’t ignore the repetition of scripture that people share with me that bequests my belief! God doesn’t Promise me everything I ask for. But this time I just KNOW that I know that he has promised me this. I will hold on to this promise and speak it out loud as often as I can.
Getting back to standing at the door of mortality and waiting with sweaty palms for an answer to my knock. I’ve asked myself a few questions. When I see the face of Jesus do I want to tell him about all the things I’ve done and accomplished or do I want to know that I did all He wanted me to do? Do I want to have a million dollars in the bank or do I want to touch a million lives? Do I want accolades and approval from man or do I want to walk in the confidence that Jesus perfected of my life? What do I really want out of this life for the rest of the days I have?
I have waited at the door of mortality and decided that it is not going to open for me today. I pivot on my rear heals and about-face setting out to search for His sheep to feed, looking for a million hearts to hold with the confidence that God has a perfect plan for my life. Time to be obedient and do the things I know He wants me to do. I will abandon my plans and chose His for the rest of my life.
And this is the gift that cancer gave to me!