Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Radiation, Photon torpedoes, and Kryptonite

Sometimes I feel as if I’ve entered an intergalactic worm-hole or was transported into a different life.  My life used to be filled with studying, meetings, and taking care of people I love.  The last 8 weeks have been a blur of procedures, scans, surgery, radiation, and appointments. 

As I laid on the gurney today for my radiation treatment, I was in a funk. The red light flashed, the constant beep, beep, beep of radiation sounded, all the while “soothing” piano musak played in the background, and I really wondered about that intergalactic wormhole.  This wasn’t the life I had planned. One too many receptionists had called and said Dr so and so wants to see you in 3 hrs.  I tried to counter with I already have two appointments today, could we make this one nearer either of them, so that I don’t have to make an extra trip?  When this was an impossibility, I just got cranky and my mind raced.

Yet the words that kept coming to me were: “Be still, and know that I am God.”  I thought to myself I’m doing the best that I can here.  I’m not running, because part of me did want to jerk the connectors off my body and run. What if this radiation was my kryptonite?   Although I was physically still, emotionally my mind was running a mile a minute.

I went home and had lunch and then went back to see the doctor who had forced me into a third trip for the day, Dr. Patel.  Before this appointment, I hadn’t heard of her, didn’t know anything about her including that she was female.  She was wonderful, reassuring, and positive.  She told me that I take some magic pills (hormone therapy—to block estrogen and progesterone) and that I was going to be fine. 

 One more time I realized that God was taking care of me in the midst of the chaos.  In the midst of what seemed like firing photon torpedoes and a surrender to cancer. I’ve been given the gift of the exact right doctors every step of the way--doctors with the right skill sets and the right personalities to tend to me.  Sometimes I think God needs me to be still and listen.  Sometimes I think God just needs me to be still and trust.  I have a ways to go on the stillness, but I know that God is God.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Last Monday I was diagnosed with stage I invasive breast cancer.  The doctors, techs, and nurses had been gradually telling me for weeks, yet the words still stung.  When the doctor said the words, they hung in the air like killer bees.  I tried wrapping my mind around them.  I tried being logical and rational; I mastered it for a while. Within a few moments tears sprang to my eyes; I had no control of them.  I knew that the words weren’t a death sentence.  Truth be told they weren’t even the hardest words I’ve ever heard, but they were still difficult words.

Honestly, it has taken me several days to grasp the word cancer.  In fact it reminded me of Harry Potter and the wizard world.  In the books there is an irrational fear of speaking the unspeakable name of Voldemort, or their mortal enemy.  I thought about keeping this diagnosis of breast cancer to myself. I realized I was giving the word more power. I wanted to speak the unspeakable word and release its power over me.

Instead of the unspeakable word of cancer, I decided to focus on Philippians 4: 4-7

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This verse changed my prayer life years ago as my father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer.  I learned that within each hardship there was a gift of possibility.  I learned to live with the nearness of God.  I learned the impossibility of being anxious and thankful at the same time. 

Next week I will have surgery. The following week I’ll begin radiation. I am sure that neither will be easy, but at this moment I’m going to live in the space of being grateful. I’m not ignorant of the seriousness, but I also realize that this isn’t a death sentence-I refuse to live as if it were.  Cancer isn’t going to rule my life and neither is anxiety. I decided that the only word to which I am going to offer my complete surrender is the Incarnate Word of God or Christ Jesus.