Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Looking To The Guide

Going through cancer is very frightening.  Lots of unfamiliar territory.  Sometimes the journey may take years with lots of trips and turns.  I know my journey became absolutely chaotic when I was undergoing chemotherapy.  My nausea was so severe that I ended up being hospitalized five times with dehydration. I was also anemic.  I tried to work as much as I could but it was difficult being hospitalized so much.  A couple of times I went to work even when I felt extremely bad and ultimately was admitted to the hospital FROM work.  On one occasion, I went into a patient's room and felt like I was going to pass out.  Now that would have been impressive!  Nevertheless, I ran outside the room and told my coworker how I felt.  She graciously took over the work while I went to the emergency room and was subsequently admitted to the hospital.
In addition to nausea, I learned how bad chemotherapy is from a fatigue standpoint.  I have never felt so tired in my life.  I felt I was like a cigarette butt being ground in an ashtray.  Grounding, pounding, unrelentless.  Furthermore, the tiredness never seemed to get much better.  I was always tired, always felt bad.  Every task that I performed, whether working around the house or going to work, required significant effort on my part.  It wasn't until the chemotherapy ended that my energy level improved significantly a couple of weeks later.

However, I don't write about these matters to get sympathy.  I also hope that the reason I wrote my book was not to get sympathy.  No, not at all.  Having gone through cancer, I feel I have much to share about getting through it from a personal standpoint.  Things that worked, things that didn't.  In other words, I want to be a guide to anyone going through cancer.

Perhaps the greatest guide in hard times  is the Lord God Himself.  Isaiah 58:11 proclaims, "...the Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail."  Wow!  Great promise...great comfort.

A wise old hymn writer, William Williams, also looked to God as his guide.  Consider the precious  words of this hymn, "Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah".

"Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
pilgrim through this barren land. 
I am weak, but thou art mighty;
hold me with thy powerful hand. 
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me till I want no more;
feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
whence the healing stream doth flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through. 
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer,
be thou still my strength and shield;
be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death and hell's destruction,
land me safe on Canaan's side. 
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee."

Don't try to make it through life on your own.  Look to the guide.  "For such is God, our God forever and ever;  He will guide us until death" (Psalms 48:14).

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Living Off My CT Scans

After I finished chemotherapy in June 2006, I underwent periodic CT scans of my abdomen to make sure the cancer had been eradicated.  First the scans were every three months, then increased to every six months, then finally once a year.  Every scan was worrisome.  What if the cancer reoccurred?  How would I face it again?  However, I soon learned not to worry about the scans until the day of the scan.  Why?  Because worrying wouldn't solve anything.  If I had a good CT report, then I had basically another six to twelve months to enjoy life. I would pray about the scans the day of the tests, but otherwise tried not to think too much about them.

That's the mindset of a cancer patient.  You live from one scan to the next.

The Bible has some good advice regarding worrying.  In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, "...do not be anxious about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."   In other words, focus on today.  Don't get too uptight about things down the road.  They will take care of themselves.

Put another way, as I heard a preacher say, "worrying is assuming responsibility for something God never intended for you to do."  Great advice.  There's no reason to worry about potential problems.  God will handle them.  Of course, I should still try to plan for the future.  But, for now, as Bobby Ferrin sings in the attached song, I don't need to worry.  I just need to be happy.