Clinging To What I Know

From the first two rounds of chemotherapy I’ve been through, I’ve learned that what everyone says about it is true.

For starters, it’s unpredictable.

I can’t stand that.

Just no predicting how it’s going to affect you, my doctor said. No predicting when the side effects will begin or subside. Everyone’s reaction is different. And friends who’ve been through chemo said they couldn’t base their expectations for future rounds on how they reacted to previous treatments.

Well, this is just not acceptable.

Sally doesn’t do well when she can’t estimate possible outcomes at least five steps ahead.

She hates not knowing what to expect.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far about my response to chemo – the first week after the infusion is the most difficult. That’s when side effects hit me – upset stomach, headache, chills, cold sweats, breaking out in my mouth, fatigue – but they’ve been short-lived. And the last couple of weeks I felt increasingly better each day, such that by the time the second chemo round came due, I was feeling good.

Second round is still in week one. It’s been easier than round one in some ways, more difficult in others.

I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say my texting friends are using colorful emojis.green smiley face emoji

I don’t know if each time will be the same. Doc says there’s a cumulative effect to chemo, building up in your body over time, making this an endurance race. A race that requires managing the symptoms so that you can endure the course of treatment shown to be most effective in getting rid of my particular type of cancer.

And we’re going to get rid of the cancer.

So I’ll just have to endure the things I don’t know – not being able to predict how I’m going to feel from day to day – by focusing on the things I do know, like…

  • This won’t last forever. In fact, in the whole scheme of things, it’s a very short period of time.
  • My treatment is so much easier than what people with advanced, metastatic cancers have to endure. God bless them.
  • My treatment is incomparable to what people had to endure five, ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty, forty years ago. I simply can’t imagine.
  • I’m loved and have a lot of people I can call in the middle of the night if I need to. They’d be here in a heartbeat.
  • And from experience, I know I’ve made it through hard things before.

Maybe that’s the greatest thing about getting older – being able to look back on moments that were tough, gut-wrenching and you saw no way out. Difficult times that you never thought you would survive – but you did. So now we have those experiences to draw strength from, knowing that however painful the process was, we made it through.

The experience of God walking alongside us through the messiness of this life is the truth I hang onto.

Not expecting him to remove it. Or to fix it. Or to make it easier.

To just be with me.

That’s what I’ll cling to.

happy face emoji

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Sally – I’m in my 3rd cancer treatment in 4 years, but have been spared chemo. I am confident God will walk with you through the other side of the tunnel to restored health. You are a blessing to so many!!

  2. Katy Shirley says:

    My family and I are praying for you in this difficult season Dr. Gary. May you continue to feel his loving arms surround you!

  3. Judy Thomas says:

    You have
    It
    In
    Spades.
    Says
    One
    Saw
    It
    Happen
    Years
    Ago
    Thank
    You
    God..

    1. sallygary says:

      I love you, Judy. Proud to have watched you and Sam fight this disease out. I’m thankful to have both of you cheering me on. From different venues.

  4. Margaret Jesson says:

    Well-said, Sally. I couldn’t have said it any better. Praying that the Lord would carry both of us through as we walk the “Valley of the Shadow of Death.”

    1. sallygary says:

      We’re in this fight together, Margaret! I say we have a party at Pepperdine & celebrate next May!

  5. Sandra Priddy says:

    Sally, I love your honesty and perspective. You are truly wise! You are in my prayers.

    1. sallygary says:

      Thank you, Sandra!

  6. Stephanie Codara says:

    You’re one of my heroes, Sally! You are the real Wonder Woman!! Thank you for blessing me with these thoughts today !

    1. sallygary says:

      Back at you, Stephanie, and thank you. Thanks to you and a Steve for being some of those friends I can call in the middle of the night!

  7. Paul Riddle says:

    I appreciated your insight about being able to look back on other tough times in life and draw hope from them. My prayers for you continue.

  8. You remain in our prayers, Sally, with love!

    1. sallygary says:

      Thank you, Becky!

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