chemo day 4-6, and more

I look back and am amazed at how long it has taken me to come back to this writing space.

From my last entry, I wanted to live those 13 lucky days in-between cancer treatments. And I did by drinking lots of fancy coffee, savoring Jeni’s ice cream with my roommates, getting amazing Dewey’s pizza with Josh on Valentine’s day, grabbing lunch with fellow sister-survivor Ashleigh and, surprise!, Corinne as well. I got to share with the women in my homechurch the deep thoughts that plague my vision of how to live and speak freely and honestly. Overall, I did a lot, and crashed hard in between activities with hour+ naps.

Returning back to treatment after a long break can be hard, feeling like you’re returning back to a completely different life. You finally “caught a break” it seems, and now you’re returning to lower energy, fatigue, not your complete self.

The past 3 weeks of treatment–chemo days 4, 5 and 6–were better than the last chemo trio. One of my favorite nurses and dear friends Jodi administered chemo to me each of those 3 days. The first day, she had heard about how terrible of a time I had with my port being accessed, and she remembered in general how much I hate ports. She prompted for us to pray aloud as she aimed and angled the needle into my port-chest–a direct bull’s eye–and the moment reminded me how much I can pray to God for all these things, even the small, mundane medical things and how he listens and comes through.

Chemo day 4 Holly visited me, and my room had a rotating glass door it seemed, people in and out all day long, connections being made, laughter in and out of the room. Holly spent pretty much the entire day beside me, which I didn’t expect her to at all, and chatted away with me. Her telling stories, asking questions, laughing all transported me to another place, as if we were in her living room, sharing a couch and break-and-bake cookies instead of sitting in the hospital room, eating chocolate chip cookies from the hospital cafeteria that my dad brought up. It’s amazing the medicine of friendship.

Chemo day 5 I slept all day. I didn’t feel well, had been sick the night before, and everyone concerned about if I was in the beginning stages of the flu. No revolving door today of people, talking and laughter, but instead a dark room with washcloths for my head and Mom sitting next to me silently viewing social media on her phone. The blessing of Peg the massage therapist comes in and reminds me of the power of connection and touch for the body.

Chemo day 6 was the quickest chemo day yet, Jodi on top of the doctors and pharmacists to clear me and make me treatment. Dad and I back into our routine that we’ve mastered years ago in past treatments: Dad goes and gets a bagel and Starbucks coffee while I get my port accessed; he calls me before he comes back up to my room to see if I want anything to eat; Dad calculates crossword puzzles next to me and poses poetry, literature and Biblical puzzle clues at me while I read my book; I nap somewhere in between all of it; Dad goes to lunch and calls/brings up food later; I receive chemo and get wheeled out in a wheelchair when done. Chemo morning and afternoon done.

In between all of the chemotherapy days, I’ve been alternating living at my parents and my place. I haven’t been as “out of it” as I was during the last chemotherapy cycle, which is great! I can still at times simply blink and then be passed out for a couple of hours though. I crave and eat a lot of ice cream (it’s as if my appetite has rediscovered Coldstone Creamery Oreo Overload.) My stomach is highly influenced and persuaded by food commercials, including Long John Silver’s which I haven’t eaten in years haha. As I rest, Josh and I obsess over the tv show Man in the High Castle. I pick up a fictional book by one of my favorite authors, Jodi Picoult, who I haven’t read in such a long time or to read even for fun in a long time and read compulsively. I strive to work more, trying to be there and recognize earlier when my body is getting tired and needs to go home and rest. I work with new students who bring me a lot of joy in just connecting with them, helping them, helping others outside of myself to get outside of myself, my thoughts, my circumstances. The girls in my Bible study and I go out for a weekend retreat in a beautiful HGTV-looking home and learn and reflect on prayer. I realize how much I don’t thank God enough for them and their joy late into the night.

Thank you, thank you, for all these joys.
Help me to stop and appreciate them more and more in the midst of my time.

A lot is happening this Wednesday, March 15th.

On Wednesday, Josh and I will celebrate 2 years of dating (it’s been that long!)
On Wednesday, I get my first set of scans, recording the progress of 2 months of chemotherapy I’ve had so far (it’s been that long?!)
On Wednesday, we would have been celebrating Skylor’s 19th birthday (it’s been that long since he’s been gone)

Beware the Ides of March much?

My body is always aware of when scans are upcoming it seems. Perhaps this is why my neck and shoulders have been so tight and tense these days, just tensing and thinking about this day. I swear I feel every small pain of my body. I notice whenever I feel any pain in my lungs, and I wish I could look inside and see what is going on within my rib cage, this war within my body. Is the chemotherapy attacking in that moment, causing pain and injury to cancer cells, is that what I’m feeling? Or am I feeling the cancer army multiplying in size? This seems like such a blind battle within my body that I’m participating in.

It’s these medical snap shots of scans that uncover the reality underneath my skin. I know I have cancer, but I don’t see it. I just see all of the effects around me, my circumstances and life changing, hair loss, loss of energy because of the chemotherapy. Its these images that show deeper, underground roots of reality in black and white truth.

The inward truth can be scary.

Please pray for a calmness of heart and for a body to relax and heal.
Please pray for a mind that trusts and hopes still, no matter the circumstance and images captured.
Please pray for the results of these scans, that the reflect accurately the battle within me, clear images for radiologists and physicians to read and discern the army’s movements.

As always, thank you for your prayer-support, thoughts and well wishes!

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