Full to the Brim: Entering Round Two of Chemo
Today is the day. Let the poison drip begin. It feels sort of barbaric, doesn’t it? A bit like the dark ages when bloodletting was the thing of “modern medicine.” Today with all our scientific, medical advancements we do this thing that brings one to the brink of death, with a little break in between, just to do it over again and again.
Yesterday the big story on the news was that women with early stage breast cancer may not need to do chemotherapy any more. Never thought that story would peak my interest. I am early stage and doing chemo! Now this feels like a medical advancement that makes sense (probably feels similar to those peasants in the Middle Ages when they discovered that bloodletting didn’t really make sense- duh). But I love how all the news reports leave out the details of “may not need.” Man! Triple Negative Breast Cancer fits the “MAY NOT” category. Right now on the medical front, the only treatment to beat my cancer is heavy doses of chemo and lots of prayer.
Fourteen days after round one my hair decided it wanted no part of this. Well, it was probably more that it had no choice to fall out – it was dead. Hair by the handfuls was my lot for the next week. My sensitive head had enough. I woke up on Saturday morning, done thinking I could prolong the enevitable. I got out our shears (watched a couple YouTube videos because that’s how we do our learning these days), went into the bathroom, smiled at myself in the mirror and began shaving my head. HOTY was a little worried of my mental state and secretly texted Mother Teresa in a panic. I never cried. I didn’t even feel sad. I felt relief. And of all the feelings that I didn’t except – I laughed. At one point I had that look of bald on top with a ring of hair on the bottom, oh my gosh, that is a look no one should wear! Just shave it all off for goodness sake! So I did. I found I have two red birth marks on the back of my head that I didn’t know existed. Huh, my thick hair had kept that secret for 54 years. Well, perhaps bald isn’t beautiful (in my case), but it isn’t bad. It is hysterical. I catch a glimps of myself in the mirror and just laugh at my cute little bald head. I am okay, which is so surprising to me. I have identified with my hair all of my life. I have always loved my hair. I have worn so many different styles and so many colors and I have always loved it. But for this period of my life, I have none and I am actually okay. Wigs, scarves, caps, and hats have been sent to me by so many who love me so much. I get a new look, of my choosing, each day. I have a “spy” wig and two wigs similar to my cut right before treatment. You never know which Deborah you’ll see next. Hair or no hair? That is the biggest question of my day.
At 10:45 am I walk into my doctors office and give my permission to do this again. I know more now and feel a bit uneasy. However, I feel more prepared in so many ways. My life revolves around the belief in the power of prayer and of God’s Word. I believe in healing and I believe in the “going through” because God gets the glory. It is my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father that sustains me in the “going through” and the healing. It is actually crazy to me that people think that they can make it through stuff like this on their own. Ugh! I have tried that. It is bleak. I am so blessed that my friend, Jesus, is walking right beside me and holding me up when I can’t walk. He (Jesus) does that in so many different tangible ways that He continually blows my mind.
On Sunday nights HOTY and I have the privilege of opening our doors to a cross section of young adults, ages 18 – 26. We have any where from 12-20 energetic “kids” show up to our house every sunday night. For the past four years this is how we’ve rolled. It is a delight, and it is exhausting. We’ve been very transparent with them about where we are at, not just about this cancer, but everything: marriage, parenting, friends, dating, religion, addiction, you name it, it is open for discussion in our home. This Sunday night was no different. We had over 20 kids show up not knowing what HOTY had quietly planned. I didn’t even know. He invited our senior pastor to join us to anoint me with oil and pray for me. It blessed my socks off. Dennis and I have poured our life into these kids for four years and here they were pouring back into us filling our cup to overflowing. Pastor Tom taught them how to come before God with a repentant heart before they asked God for healing on my behalf. Oh my stars! These kids are our future and I can’t tell you how proud I am of them and have such an overwhelming thankfulness that they are in my life and in my future. Their prayers are so pure and earnest. God is already getting the glory through my journey of cancer and nothing thrills me more. If you want to know God deeper, give your life away in service to Him. He meets all your needs plus needs that you didn’t even know you had. Living in authentic transparency is scary, but so rewarding. It is never perfect. It is incredibly messy, but once there you’ll never want anything else
Mother Teresa even showed up, just in time for this time of prayer. We let her hang with us “young adults” even though as she said, “I am more than a decade beyond young adult.” She was blessed and walk away with sense of being in the right place at the right time to hear what she needed to hear from God. Man! There are no coincendences here. Only the hand of God orchestrating His plan as we allow Him to do so.
Ah! My heart is so full as I leave for this next round. I know I will be entering the darkness for several days, but I won’t stay there and I certainly won’t be left alone there. And I’ll have more stories to tell!