Chemo Woes and Chemo Joys
I am not really sure where to begin. My desire for my next blog post has been to be positive, so I guess I will start there. I submitted and completed my comprehension exam, which ultimately determines if I pass graduate school. I am pretty positive I passed although there were moments that I questioned if I would be able to analyze the coincidental case that detailed the trials of working with a woman dying of Cancer. For those who don’t know I am graduating with my Masters in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma on May 11th, 2013, and that in itself is a positive and cause for celebration. In addition, the chemo nurse navigators called today and told me my Cancer counts are coming down, which means the chemo is working!
Speaking of chemo, I start my fifth cycle on Wednesday. Wednesday will be my thirteenth infusion.I think people are curious about chemo, so I thought I would write about what I have come to expect of the three infusions I receive in each cycle.
Wednesday– I receive IV Taxol. This is the chemo drug that makes me loose my hair, but is not the one that makes me so sick. It is about a six hour day, and once I get home I expect to be anxious tired and uncomfortable. Most of the discomfort stems from the IV they leave in my hand for the following day and the steroids they make you take to prevent adverse reactions from the drug.
Thursday – I receive IP Cisplatin. IP means they will use the port that has been secured to my right rib since my surgery in December. From the beginning I was told that IP chemo causes more side effects than utilizing a typical chemo port usually found near one’s collarbone, however, IP has better long term success. The Cisplatin knocks me down for about a week with severe nausea, headaches, stinging eyes, and pain that seems to reach into my bones.
The following Wednesday– I receive IP Taxol and Evastin. Taxol is the same drug that I receive the first day of the cycle, however, again they use the port in my stomach. During this chemo session I have come to expect quite a bit of pain, nausea, and blood clots in my nose. This is another full day lasting about seven hours, which includes the turning they have me do after IP chemo to ensure the drug coats my stomach.
After explaining what a chemo cycle entails this story will likely have more meaning. On the last day of my most recent cycle I was awakened about five hours before I needed to leave my house. I was nauseated, uncomfortable, and anxious for more chemo. I prayed for much of the morning, listened to worship music, but still couldn’t find the strength to get out of bed. That morning I sat up in bed and began to pray the Lord’s prayer out loud. This is not typical for me neither to pray out loud nor pray using the Lord’s prayer. As I began, “Our Father who is in Heaven” I began to cry as a result of the suffering I was enduring, and understanding that there was no way I could get through the day on my own. Throughout the entire prayer I pictured my God in Heaven, and uttered the words I have known for many years in the midst of mixed tears of joy and pain. Saying this prayer did not take away the sickness, but it gave me enough strength to get out of bed and get ready for another infusion. I continued to rely on His strength as I put together a few goodie bags, and while I dealt with a need to stay near the bathroom due to becoming sick. What comes next is the miracle, as I made my way to the car I felt God’s spirit come over me. It was as if I had to keep trusting Him and His strength throughout the morning until I made it to the appropriate time for Him to really intervene. Once I made it to the Cancer Center the sickness I had dealt with all morning was almost completely gone and He had replaced my suffering with abounding joy. I had so much joy that a friend who met there jokingly asked what I had taken that morning. I was happy to tell her I was high on the Holy Spirit! Maybe an even bigger miracle was the reduced side effects I had during the infusion this day, and the ability I was given to talk about God with others while I received chemo, which is a stark contrast in comparison to the silence I had to maintain the last time I had received the IP Taxol.
I tell you all of this not only to recount how faithful God has been in the midst of suffering, but also to share this truth with someone who may need to be reminded of His faithfulness. We have heard it before, but once again God doesn’t always act as quickly or in ways that we desire. This testimony, however, hopefully gives tangible evidence that even when we are doing everything right, when we are surrending ourselves to Him, He may require us to fully rely on Him to a point where we almost can’t take it anymore. I have been to that point on several occasions, but I and I hope you will find that once we reach that point is often when God does His biggest miracles and carries us through what is left to endure.