Today marks one week since I was told I was cancer free and able to resume my meds. The swelling has gone down considerably. This weekend my thumbs and forearms were finally pliable and no longer feel like the skin is about to split. However, I still have to rest after a couple of lines of typing. For instance, I had to lower my arms and let them hang for about one minute after typing the line about my thumbs and forearms.
As soon as I went on the meds I think I started losing water accumulation and started dropping weight by about a pound a day (don't I wish that was a trend that would continue with excess fat after the excess water is gone). That got me all excited that my recovery would go much quicker this time, but the trend seemed to plateau after five days. Drat!
I've been having crazy ideas that come in the middle of the night. I think my brain is starting to shake off the fog and is metaphorically leaping for joy and just throwing out ideas and getting all excited about them to the point I'm not getting much sleep. I have to admit the ideas are pretty cool (or maybe the part of my brain that analyzes stuff is still in the mental fog or any idea is a breath of fresh air and is being evaluated purely emotionally) and I'm jotting them down. Some of them have to do with lighting setups and other ideas for photography. One is an idea for a notebook (paper, not computer) of all things. Some are just plain silly..... Like, "What would an Amish TV network be like? Especially considering the Amish don't watch TV." I have a newscast with Jedediah Lehman as the bearded anchor man and some stories already cooking. Now, if I can just get ahold of a good video camera.....
I was able to go to church yesterday. That was a major plus. I only missed the previous Sunday in order to protect the church peeps from my radioactive-ness, but it seemed like it had been forever. I just sat in a chair and everyone came by to say howdy and get (or give) a radioactive-free hug.
When I wake up in the mornings my eyes are still glued shut. When I wipe the goo free and am able to open them they still look like these angry black holes in my face, but I think they look better after a few hours (or I just get used to seeing them like that whenever I go to the bathroom and look in the mirror). It's hard to evaluate and determine if something is actually progress (like the weight loss, which was measurable) or just subjective hopefulness. A few things are undeniable, but most of the things I've "noticed" may just be wishful thinking -- although, that in itself could be a result of just feeling better in general.
I'm going to try an outing today and see how I do.
Pastor announced yesterday that Brooke Nungesser, one of "our" missionaries to Poland (one of the 'Polish Nuns' [Nungesser]), has received her results from a recent MRI and the tumor on her pituitary is back. I know that Brooke was praying for me and I will certainly be praying for Brooke. Whatever lies ahead may not be easy, but I can assure you that God's sustaining grace is more than sufficient for you at every point along the journey. Take this opportunity to draw near to him and he will draw near to you.
There's something about "cancer" and other "tragic circumstances" that can be a great clarifier. You get that diagnosis or hear some news and suddenly things that occupied your thoughts and held such a place of high importance just evaporate like a fog into thin air, leaving the things that were truly important all along to stand in stark contrast to the formerly important things that obscured them.
So, why did I use quotation marks around "cancer" and "tragic circumstances"? Because they aren't even important. They are the catalyst that parts the curtain of life to reveal what is genuinely important. We get so wrapped up in circumstances and possessions that we neglect and even abuse that which is precious beyond measure. You can just cruise through an average neighborhood on a Saturday or Sunday and see it. The parent yelling at the kid that just put a dent in the car with her tricycle for instance. If you were to go to the parent and tell them you could make the car good as new and protect it from any new damage from dents or scratches they might get pretty excited. So you wave your hand and the dent is gone along with any scratches, and tar from recent road repairs just glides off and drops to the ground. Now they're really excited! "That was amazing! And you're saying it'll just stay this way? In perfect condition? For as long as I own it?" You nod in the affirmative. Now, as you walk away you reach down and pick up the little girl they were just yelling at and head down the street. Gratitude turns to anger and they want to know where you're going with their kid. "Oh, that's the price. The child is now mine in exchange for a perfect finish on your precious car......" Now perspectives change radically. The finish on the car isn't nearly as important when you're faced with the true value of a treasure so recently taken for granted. In fact, you'd rather lose the new car completely......
For me, cancer was like that. Cancer cleared away the fog of busy-ness we allow ourselves to be caught up in and I was able to see once again the things that truly matter. Did I enjoy cancer? No. But if I could go back and choose to opt out of it, I wouldn't do it if it meant I lost the things gained by having gone through it.
That's my prayer for Brooke and for my aunt Karen. That cancer would be a tool that God uses in their lives to bring something of value to them that transcends the "circumstances" they'll find themselves in as a result of their diagnoses and treatments. I can't wave my hand and have their cancer not exist. It's there. It's real. But there is a name that is greater than the name of their particular type of tumor. He is also there. He is also real. And he has the testimony that he can bring beauty from the ashes of their circumstances. Oh, I'll also be praying that the treatments are effective and that cancer loses this round, make no mistake. But more importantly, I'll be praying that God does a work in their lives that is so great that they wouldn't give up the things they find on the other side of the experience in exchange for a smoother journey.