days 58-60: 2/3 of chemo done!

Oh goodness, it’s been a while. Where did those treatment days, that weekend, time itself go?

It still continues to shock and amaze me: life continues on outside of treatment. Whenever an upcoming chemo week starts, my mind wants to mentally pause life itself. I trick myself into thinking that life outside the hospital walls stops, that energy and movement halt, synchronizing themselves to the chemotherapy drugs that are halting this growth of mine.

But, life does not stop.
Friends continue to get married.
Roommates continue to work and go to school.
Holidays are celebrated.
Bible teachings are given and studied.
Grocery runs and errands are made.

I feel like I am consistently jumping back into a movie that I started watching a while back and was forced to leave midway or I distracted, and now I am trying to observe and watch intently again to pick back up on this plot we call Life.

LIFE.

Do you remember the negatives of photographs, their sepia hues, their imprints of moments of life itself? I’m reviewing in my hands now the negatives of days 58, 59 and 60. These three negatives are hazey in my mind, hazy in my hand. Each recall only a brief moment, a brief imprint of each day for me. I can honestly barely remember them; the sepia hues are muddy.

NEGATIVE 1: DAY 58 
It’s April Fool’s day. I’m fully aware of nurse Jodi’s schemes as she has encouragement post-its all over my hospital bed. She keeps placing her hand underneath my pillow. Click. Image of a fake spider appears in the negative. Can’t fool me Jodi! 

NEGATIVE 2: DAY 59
In this negative, there are so many faces crowded into such a small square space—both film-wise and my hospital room-wise. It’s one of those days where everyone comes in at once to see me: the social worker, social worker intern, the nurse, nursing students, massage therapist, recreation therapist, the doctor…It’s comical that they always sense one another and come in all the same time, a chemo party!  

NEGATIVE 3: DAY 60
Megan’s face is center in this negative. She is one of my closest and best friends who helps remind me to laugh at myself. I need it on days like that, especially on the last day of treatment week. Thanks Megs.

Oh my, day 60 of 90 treatments!

2/3 of the way done with chemotherapy!!! 
(my mathematician father would be proud of me and my ability to reduce fractions)

Oh wow, time has not stopped or paused but has continued to move on and go.

60 of 90.
60 of 90!

Praise Him!

 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
romans 12.12

 There has been so much that has happened in these 60 of 90 treatments. My mind is shuffling the memory-cards, trying to memorize and recall each moment.

Let’s go back to the front of the deck. shuffle, shuffle. 

RECALL.

With this past Easter Sunday, God is reminding me of the darkest times of waiting before even all of these treatments. The month of waiting before officially knowing scan and biospy results, of knowing for certain that my cancer was back. June—normally sunny—was dark, deep darkness of waiting, waiting.

I sat next to Mary of Bethany while I waited.

That summer, the girls in my high school homechurch were doing a series on Women of the Bible. I was originially going to study and present a teaching on Ruth, gleaning from her life as she gleaned alongside Boaz’ fields. But God kept directing me to Mary for some reason.

I learned quickly why. I needed her by my side. In fact, I crawled right next to her on the ground shortly after I gave that teaching.

Let me introduce you to her:
Mary of Bethany was one of Lazarus’ two sisters. Yes, Lazarus, the man whom Jesus rose from the dead with just a call and power of his own voice.
Mary poured perfume on Jesus’ feet, weeping and wiping her hair on his feet, which was highly scandalous of her to do. She gave all to her Lord: her means to live off from, affection, her mind to study his teachings.
Mary had no shame in crying in front of Jesus, in front of the Creator, telling and asking him why would he let something to tragic happen to her and her family.
Mary is my kind of girl, a woman who I long to be like in her vulnerability and faith. But it is oh so hard to.

For that dark-shiva month, I read and re-read her story almost daily:

john 11

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

11 …he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind manhave kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

I clung to the words that Jesus told Mary. I knew as I sat by her, I was not just speaking directly to her but to me also. I knew.

“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”

I cried every time I read this. I still do. What a promise! A promise that is hard to believe sometimes, many times.

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Do you believe this? 

Oh yes, double-edge sword piercing me whole. How can I believe this?! both Mary and I cry. Yet we want to and have that small mustard-seed faith to that is being watered and grown by our tears.

But Jesus, it’s hard to believe when scans are before you, highlighting cancer in your bones and a brother’s corpse is in front of you. Death seems so triumphant. 

Oh yes, death is triumphant over mere humans. But over him? No. 

It is through the voice of Jesus, the faith in Jesus that raises Lazarus back from the dead. Lazarus didn’t do a single thing but return because He acted and called out. And his resurrection pointed back to Him, to His Glory like He said it would.

It’s those dark moments of waiting though in anticipation for the glory that make the glory even brighter in contrast. To go from death to life, transfroming all the bad into good—true miracles.

He is always transforming my cancer into something better, into something for his glory. I’m seeing the glimpses of it from the tomb of what I thought marked my death but itsead is bringing me true life.

True Life.

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