Three weeks ago, I finished chemotherapy for the third time in my life.
And yes, it has taken me 3 weeks to process that fact, swallow it whole, place the seed-fact in the ground and wait for it to patiently grow.
I am still sitting and waiting, watching for the seeds of the past to grow now. There is a small shoot of joy-hope I am beginning to see.
The last and quite possibly even the longest day of treatment. Definitely one of the busiest!
I arrive, Dad wheeling me in onto the 11th floor, and Paula is waiting for me. Oh, how I truly believe that Paula is someone God has connected me to and has been tremendously used in my life. Paula acts not just as an overseer of my health, connecting and providing me with resources, but is also a fellow overseer of my faith, reminding me of Biblical truths and expressing God’s love to me and numerous other teen and young adult cancer patients. And once again, He uses Paula today. She is waiting to introduce me to another young adult cancer patient Ben.
Looking at Ben, hearing of his similar diagnosis, seeing him with the same intense brace wrapping his hip and thigh, all brought back the memories of being 13, of those first moments of being newly diagnosed and treated and undergoing surgery. And I can’t help but whisper-prayer in spirit reflective-gratitude on how far He has brought me in these past 11 years of life. What a gracious reminder.
Oh Ben, how I thoroughly enjoyed meeting you and your mama that last day of my treatment. Your mother such an encouragement and you as well as I rolled down the hallway towards my last treatment.
The typical pre-medication, the routine, the chemo drugs, the visits from fellow employees of the hospital who are not just employees but now friends and family…all encircle and characterize this last day of treatment.
And another surprise, another provision! Fellow brother-survivor Daniel is here and shows up at my door. Oh, how God is so good!, bringing not just him but his sweet girlfriend Morgan over later. His timing could not be any better.
Daniel knows. He knows what questions to ask, what thoughts I am having as today is the last day of treatment. As much as I love my parents, friends, and the staff at Children’s, no one else quite gets it like he does as he also has had to end treatment and transition twice now in his life. God coudn’t have brought anyone better to my door that day. Daniel with his past experience-questions like a shovel in hand, unearthing my thoughts that are buried deep within me that I myself have been at times too afraid to dig up. And at the same time he is sowing seeds of joyful-hope, of encouragement and ease, making my father and I laugh and smile.
Oh, thank you brother-survivor Daniel. Thank you God for bringing him in your incredible timing.
Look down the hallway, look to Ben and see what will now be my past: treatment life.
Look here in my room, look to Daniel and see what will now be my future: post-treatment, survivorship life.
Look here, down at my hands and see where I am now: in-between, crossing over.
Look past to Ben, see his tree that I am walking away from.
Look forward to Daniel, and see in this distance his tree that I am walking to.
Look down at my feet, and see I am slowing prodding there, at times tripping, and squinting to see the future.
Before I know it, the treatment itself is done, and other friends and family are slowly trickling into my room. Awaiting for the bell-ringing ceremony, the bell that my parents and I always pass every time we come in for treatment. The bell-ringing is always done ceremoniously after a patient is done with treatment, the patient themselves ring the bell.
Although it is a wonderful feeling, I am still nervous-anxious-unsure as I get up next to the bell, my family, friends and supportive staff and team at Children’s all looking at me next to it. And although I am weak today, the bell itself still is sure and strong, ringing for me what I cannot speak for myself. Bell-language, bell-assuredness, ringing out thanks and gratitude for this moment, for my family, for these friends, for this staff at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Although I am still shakey from the bell-ringing and the chemo, my day is not fully done. Later in the day I am to have an MRI and return back here.
Daddies always know their daughters; my father suggests we go to Katzinger’s Deli in between bell-ringing and MRI, and one of my closest friends Hannah comes with us.
Oh, how Katzinger’s is somewhere I haven’t been in forever, food deeply connected to me, cancer and this moment. Flashback to the previous diagnoses at 13, 18 when Dad and I would come to this deli and relish in giant sandwiches and even bigger pickles. And here we are, creating newer memories with lunch meats and cancer. Celebratory sandwiches.
Later, we return to home, return to rest, my father himself rings his old, antique farm bell that hangs from our back porch.
Ring in Father rest,
Ring in Father restoration,
Ring in Father gratitude,
Ring in Father hope for the future, for yours and mine.