The Non-Cancer Blogging Event has come to an abrupt end. I am typing this from the chemo room at Dr. M's office. I am hooked up to an IV, and Taxol is being pumped into my veins. I am surrounded by five other women, all older than me, most bald like me. Maintenance chemotherapy has begun.
Yesterday, Mom, Hubby, and I met with one of the oncology nurses for a chemo teaching session. None of the information was necessarily new or startling. The new protocol utilizes Taxol (a chemo drug that I was on previously) and Avastin (an antibody) to prevent recurring cancer. We know that the reality is that in my case, the cancer will almost certainly return--the maintenance protocol is hopefully just slowing it down some. I will come in every Thursday for chemo--3 weeks on, one week off, for the next six months. Those four weeks together are considered to be one "round." After the third round, I will have a CT scan done; after the sixth round I will meet with my doctor and re-evaluate.
I am told that the side effects should be much less than the hell I endured with the "big" chemotherapy. Most patients experience a day or two of fatigue after a treatment; nausea and muscle and bone aches should be significantly less, if I even experience them at all. I will have to go to the lab every week on the day before chemo and have a Neulasta injection after the third week in every round. Neither of these routines is new.
All in all, I guess I should be thankful. Compared to where I've been and what I've done, this should be a piece of cake, right? But here's my hangup: I don't want to compare the next six months to the last six months. I don't want to drive to Dallas every single week to sit in this room with these other sick people and know in my heart that I am one of them. More than anything, I don't want to explain to my sons what I have to do and wonder how to answer their questions. I want cancer to GO AWAY. I want to go back to the life I had before The Sickness. I want to be freed from the cloud of doubt and fear that seems to follow me wherever I go.
After the meeting yesterday, Hubby and I hugged my mom and she headed home to Houston. We got in our car, and my emotional dam unleashed a waterfall of tears. I am exhausted from this. I have fought hard, and I worry that I just don't have what it takes to keep fighting. The last few weeks have been as close to normal as I have felt in a long, long time, and I have loved being able to do the things I used to do before I got sick. I am so MAD that I have to give that up again and replace it with this new normal!
I am reading a little book by Anne Graham Lotz called Why?. In it, she says this: "There is more to life than being healthy, than being happy, than being problem free, than being comfortable, than feeling good, than getting what we want, than being healed. There is more to life even than living! And the 'more to life' is the development of our faith to the extent that our very lives display His glory!" Just a few weeks ago, my friend Becky (who is also the boys' music teacher at school) sang in the worship service at church. The chorus of her song had these lyrics:
I've been cared for so faithfully.
But Lord, hear my plea
And may it be
That you're satisfied with me.
I will not stop asking for healing. I will not stop believing that God is in the miracle business and that I can live a long, happy life. But even over that, I want to make those song lyrics my own prayer: May it be, sweet Jesus, that I draw power from you that I don't have on my own, so that every breath I take points right back to you. I want to dig deeper and look harder to find satisfaction and contentment in what you've given me, so that you shine.
"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7
I have a long way to go before I can honestly rejoice in my circumstances, but I will work on it! In the meantime, I will drive to Dallas every week and I will sit in this room with these other sick women. I will trust my God, love my family, and believe that there is a plan in place for me...and that it is very, very good.