The Doctors Are Back

December and the first three days of January were very relaxed as far as medical procedures go. Not a single blood test, surgical procedure, or even a doctor’s visit. If it were not for all the little things like getting up at 2:30 in the morning for medicine, a confusing mass of pills during the day, headaches, hot flashes, joint pain, tiredness, wrestling with weight gain, and a few other little side effects I would have forgotten that I had these cancers.  But alas, these past five days have seen a number of calls from the nurse who facilitates all the indignities done to cancer patients. Setting up appointments, changing appointments, talking about treatment options, and reminding me of 8 blood tests to be done Next Monday, a doctor’s appointment the following week, more blood tests and an EKG on the 1st of February, a small surgical procedure on the 9th, preliminary radiation consultation on the 16th, and just for something different a visit to the dermatologist to see if any skin cancers have returned. Well looking at my calendar is kind of a graphic reminder that I am battling cancer. At least so far while there have been some tough skirmishes, I am still winning the battle. One thing I am wrestling with is whether to continue one type of treatment. Statistically, if I continue for another 1 ¾ years it will possibly extend the success of the treatment up through my early eighties. I have asked if they would give a written, money back guarantee to me for that, but no one has been willing. But the side effects really make life difficult and have some permanent, less then positive effects. Maybe it is pride that I do not want to exist with limited capabilities and embarrassing physical problems, maybe it is cowardice that I do not want to face the difficulties, or maybe I just do not want to play the odds and would like to make my remaining years productive and enjoyable even if that means possibly shorter in duration. Fortunately I have until May to make that decision.

One of the things Karen and I started to do was to organize our photos. We had 47 years of photos covering 27 different countries plus a lifetime of our family in albums, boxes, envelopes, and other places. Then there were also all the family pictures from generations past. So, we set out digitizing everything. A lot of photos can be sent off to be professionally scanned for us. But a lot of the odd sized or photos with glue on them or large ones cannot go out to be done so I am doing them on our scanner. To say that the activity is tedious is an understatement. However, I think these hours have been some of the most meaningful and exciting times I have spent recently. As I have worked through them, I’ve been reminded of activities like mission strips where we experienced a different type of life and met believers whose culture and affluence were so different than ours in America, but often whose faith was so much stronger and real to them. There were family trips to visit missionaries and explore family heritage where we learned so much about each other and about our families. It was exciting to see how God had been involved in the lives of those in previous generations. Seeing family and friends at so many different stages of their lives reminded us of God’s faithfulness and blessing through all the years. I probably could have worked faster if I had not spent time reminiscing and praying for old friends as I saw their faces once again. It was a really good time.

As I go through a lot of the annoying side effects of my treatments God gives me these little reminders that it is not all about me. I was lamenting to a friend how inconvenient hot flashes were at night. The problem is I get all cozy under layers of covers because we keep our room a little cool, and then I get a hot flash, so I toss the covers off, but sometimes I fall asleep before the hot flash is over. Now I am sound asleep with no hot flash but also with no covers and I wake up really cold and uncomfortable. After I related these monumental struggles to my friend and was expecting comfort, pity, and encouragement for my steadfastness in the midst of these great difficulties; she took the wind out of my sails by saying ‘so what’s the big deal, I thought you had something important to say, we women have been going through this for years ‘. So, it was either a rebuke for my self-centeredness or a learning experience to be more sensitive to others and look beyond my own discomfort.

I think I am almost up to date in responding to emails and phone calls. With the renewal of all this medical stuff I am anticipating that cancer fog might become more of a factor. So, I beg your indulgence if I am slow in responding to communications from you. Your contact does mean a lot and while I might not respond in writing or calling right away, I am responding in my heart with thankfulness and appreciation for your concern.