Saturday, February 18, 2012

Quietness, Trust, and Support

I began writing this post from sunny Orlando. This week would be a scheduled treatment week; but my oncologist graciously allowed me to postpone this week's treatment so I could attend an annual conference for work. I must say the change of pace and scenery was very good for me.

I've got two treatments down & only 6 more to go! Treatment day 2 was very entertaining. While Ashlee & I usually watch a movie while I'm getting my drugs, we ended up talking with the other women seated around us. Initially our conversation was about the most recent episode of The Bachelor, but it soon turned to each of us sharing our cancer story. Cancer stories are a lot like everyone's individual life two are alike & every journey is different. It was very encouraging to me to hear from these ladies who were all much further along in their chemo treatments than I am. We talked about how we each responded to the chemo & the shot the day after. I did respond a little better to the shot this time, which I'm convinced causes me the most issues (aside from nausea). The biggest  benefit this time was that I opted to not stay alone at my apartment after treatment. Ashlee and her husband were so kind to open their home to me after treatments. Since my  hair began falling out right before my second treatment, I decided to have Ashlee buzz it. I was really unsure about the whole GI Jane look initially; but now as is it continues to fall out, I'm growing more accustomed to it. In fact, there are times when I forget I don't have hair & I'm not wearing my wig! I think I freaked a bellhop out the other day when I opened my hotel room door without a wig and showing my balding head! It wasn't until I saw the shocked look on his face that I realized I had no hair! 

I don't want it to seem that my biggest challenge has been the loss of my hair because that isn't an accurate picture. The days and nights after treatment can be really difficult. I had some issues with dizziness after this treatment, which made it difficult for me to sleep. The middle of the night can also be a trying time mostly because most people are sleeping and there's a lack of physical presence. It's during these times I'm praying the most. I also sing "I've got peace like a river" over and over.  I find myself thinking, "If I can make it through the night, I'll be one day closer to feeling better. "

The Tuesday following treatment I return to the oncologist's office to have blood drawn. They check my white blood cell count among other things. After this treatment my levels were low...too low. While they said I could be out and about, I needed to avoid actively sick people. Do you know how difficult this is in the middle of cold & flu season?!?! Since some illnesses had been going around at the office and I was trying to be well enough to go on the trip this week, I was advised to work from home. I felt so defeated. I'm a people person, and here I was going on over a week in my apartment. I was going NUTS!!! I am so thankful for friends who went with me to dinner and stopped by to visit, so I had some people interaction aside from visits to the pharmacy and grocery store. I know I have issues with just being still and resting, but I'm trying to get better at it. 

This week I was reading my daily Jesus Calling devotional, and it spoke to me exactly where I was last week. The devotion is written as if Jesus is speaking, "Thank Me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still. Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again. Some of the greatest works in My kingdom have been done from sick beds and prison cells. Instead of resenting the limitations of a weakened body, search for My way in the midst of these very circumstances. Limitations can be liberating when your strongest desire is living close to Me. Quietness and trust enhance your awareness of My presence with you. Do not despise these simple ways of serving Me. Although you feel cut off from the activity of the world, your quiet trust makes a powerful statement in spiritual realms. My strength and power show themselves most effective in weakness." It really made me stop and think how many times I want to push myself because I want my old, normal life back. Right now, the old normal has been pushed aside for my new normal, and I need to embrace it.

So, I mentioned I began writing this post in Orlando (I'm finishing it in my neighborhood Starbucks) where I was at annual work conference. This whole week was a source of encouragement for me. The biggest thing was seeing people who I don't see on a regular basis, but have been walking with me on this journey. I think I got more hugs this week than I've received the last two months!!!! Our Sunday night meeting ended with a private concert with Martina McBride. She currently has a song out titled, "I'm Gonna Love You Through It." This song talks about a woman's journey with breast cancer and those who step up to say, "I'm gonna be by your side and see you through." I can barely listen to this song without crying, so when she started singing I knew this night would be no exception. You may be wondering why this song makes me so emotional. First, you need to listen to it! Second, I know not all friends will choose to stand by your side when something like cancer comes into the picture, so when people do it's a beautiful gift. I've had friends who have turned their backs and walked away. It's been hurtful, but I realize they are not the friends I need in my life...especially on this journey! For every person that has checked out, I've had 5 more that have stepped up to say, "I'm here for you whenever, whatever!" I've been so overwhelmed by the love and support I've received. When I say support, it goes beyond transportation to appointments, bringing food, cleaning my apartment, or running errands (all very important things). It's the smallest acts of kindness...a text message, e-mail, or phone call. These people expect nothing in return from me, they just care. I am so BLESSED and THANKFUL to have each of these people in my life!