I sometimes wonder where I go during chemo weeks. It as if I myself, my soul, gets transported somewhere else and my body just simply takes over. It’s not me who is there at the hospital and post-treatment: it’s just my body.
It’s as if my chemotherapy is my Jekyll-Hyde potion, chemotherapy transforming my mind, my state into someone else. (When will I come back?)
A quick review for you and for myself of the past week of chemotherapy. (I must work harder to recall things these days.)
It was the week of brothers: Joel, Skylor, and Daniel.
On Monday, Joel and I rejoiced over him being done with chemo within a week.
On Tuesday, Skylor and I rejoiced over him being done with chemo within a month.
On Wednesday, Daniel and I rejoiced over him reconnecting and seeing past nurses and doctors, for he has been done with chemo for quite some time.
I always wanted brothers. And indeed we are genetically related: our abnormal cancer cells mirror one anothers. These cells are the reason we connect, we relate. We are indeed related: Survivorship is our last name.
Recall His words, promise, challenge:
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
Oh yes, I can attest to this, yes! His words are true.
Thursday, day 64, was black.
I sleep deeply all day.
Friday, day 65, was gray.
Fatique of the week, of receiving chemo every 24-hours consistently for 5 days straight, is now weighing on my body. Chemotherapy’s hand pushes back on me, on my body, on my brain. Yes, it is so physical in nature. I can feel chemo-hand’s pressure on me, on my lungs, on wrists. on my ankles, holding me down to the hospital bed. I can only give in.
I will tell you a secret: receiving chemotherapy and being at the hospital is not the scary part. It is the days after, at home, that are. Yes, chemo Jekyll-Hyde potion is at its fullest height, its fullest grasp on my body then. His hand is now covering my eyes, covering my mouth. The medication making it hard to focus, focus on anything (a computer screen, tv, books, notebooks, people) and even harder to formulate words.
There is me, doubled:
The sick me, the cancer patient me.
Then there is me, who I am, my spirit, my soul.
Oh yes, there is my Jekyll. And there is my Hyde. And they indeed war and battle one another, in the same body no less. Oh yes, this is more draining than the chemotherapy potion itself. Science is strong, but thoughts are stronger.
I am, though, always, always learning how hard I am on myself. My parents, my roommates, my friends can attest to this. I want to do everything, be everywhere, be “normal.” But there is a time for rest, rest. And my body demands it as chemo-self has taken over. I am trying to listen and obey more. I am trying to be patient.
It is hard though because you see, my brain tells me that this is my normal for me. Press on, continue on! You have cancer, again? This is how your life just is. This is your normal. You’ve done this already before, been through this. You know how it feels.
My thoughts are just as toxic (maybe more) than the chemotherapy itself.
My thoughts are longing and desiring strength. Normalcy. But mostly strength to be enabled to do and be with all the ones I love and do just life itself. Becoming frustrated with my body, with myself for taking longer to recover now from chemo weeks, with headaches, with heart-beating craziness, with weird numbness—all overtaking me and making me feel selfish.
I long for strength.
“It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace”
2 timothy 2.1
“You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Strength in grace. Grace in strength.
Oh, I’ve been forgetting that! Looking only horizontally to what can I do, what can my doctors do, what can my family and friends do to help me physically, to help me regain strength. And I do need their help and appreciate it (even when I stubbornly do not want to ask for it.) I need the medicines, the questions, the food, the help. But I need to add again The Help.
Strength here in the Greek is to receive strength, be strengthed, increased in strength.
To receive means it comes from outside of me. From Him. From grace.
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
My ultimate strength comes from Him. How frustrating! And yet how comfroting! Frustrating because I want to muster up all my strength and stubbornness independently of everyone and Him. Comforting because as I have been striving and failing and creating more anxiety and with more anxiety less strength and energy, I can recongize and realize strength was never mine and could have never came from me to begin with. Strength is a gift.
Strength is a gift.
Strength is grace.