It is not all about hot flashes…
We were driving up to my son’s house for an early family Christmas celebration and I was feeling increasingly hot. I asked Karen if she felt warm hoping maybe it was not me, but she was fine. I was starting to get concerned because the hot flash kept getting stronger and was longer than I had ever experienced before. I began to be concerned about how this would affect me at the family time as I was starting to sweat and be very uncomfortable and focused on it. As we drove further, I dropped my hand down to the heated seat controls and discovered that mine were on high. I switched it off and immediately began to recover from my hot flash. It struck me how careful I need to be that I do not blame every ailment or discomfort on the cancer stuff. Even more I need to watch that I don’t rationalize frustration, short temper, unwise statements, and so forth as just being part of my cancer and not considering it as a part of me that I am responsible to control. No matter how bad I might feel I don’t have the right to be careless about other people’s feelings.
We had a week open with no doctors’ appointments tests, etc. The girl that Karen was tutoring at Community College had finished her classes and Karen was free. So, we quickly arranged a reunion of Karen’s siblings at my daughter’s house in Florida. Allegiant flies 5 minutes from our house and had some really cheap rates. It was pretty nice being in warm weather again. Although we did drive around one massive community that coordinated their Christmas decorations, it was still hard to feel like we were in the right season as we were wearing shorts and sandals and had the windows open. It was a good time of relaxation, but I did see some of the physical limitations that are developing. I learned that people who love me will accept that, and I do not have to be grumpy or defensive. One of the side effects that I struggled a bit with on the trip was vertigo and so when we visited a botanical garden, I had to be pushed around in a wheelchair. That could have been disheartening but everyone joined in in making it seem okay. No one tipped me out of my chair when going over rough terrain nor did they play any tricks like pushing me in a corner and leaving me there.
On the trip I had the joy of connecting with a young man who had allowed me to be part of his life several years ago when he was going through a very difficult situation. He was exceedingly kind in expressing his appreciation for all the wisdom and help that I had given him. Funny thing is though, during all that time I felt so frustrated because I could not really help him out of his situation and all I could give him was a listening ear and encouragement to continue trusting God and obeying His word. Well God worked through that whole situation brought healing and there is now a healthy and growing family in place. He told me that one thing that encouraged him during all that was a quote from CS Lewis who said “there are far better things ahead than any we may leave behind “. That just struck and comforted me so much. You can take that statement and apply it to the contrast between Heaven which is far ahead of us and our life on earth left behind when we die. And that is certainly true; as striking as our joys are here on earth they are nothing compared to what we will have in Heaven. But at that time, I had been thinking of my growing limitations, things that I would never be able to do again, that are the result of surgeries, treatments, and medications which are all necessary to keep me alive and functioning. There are a lot of things that I am leaving behind. But my hope and comfort is that God’s blessings are not just far away in eternity. I can either focus on things I am leaving behind like physical abilities and even physical comfort or I can reflect on the things that I am learning about God and myself, the joys of knowing and trusting Him more, the excitement of looking at life as a precious commodity to be cherished, and the joy of being with those I love and who love me. What God has done in the six months since the beginning of this cancer journey is really so much better and precious then the things that that I am leaving behind because of the battle with cancer.