As I've thought about adjusting to life post-diagnosis, this has been the phrase that replays. On the big drive, the verses from James 4 about saying, "You should say, 'If the Lord wills, we will go here & do this' - for what is your life? Do you know what will happen today or tomorrow?'" [my paraphrase]
I don't know about you, but since getting married, I've become quite the planner. I like having a general idea about where we're headed and how we'll make it happen to get there. I have become a strategizer. I have become a bit of a control freak. ...and, honestly, I have become very self-reliant, independent - I haven't needed God to make my life happen. It's like operating on auto-pilot. Deep down, I knew I wasn't living life the way I needed to...while things were fine...life just didn't feel...fulfilled? I don't know; perhaps it was empty, in spite of being so full.
Seven weeks into our new life, I feel very much like a different person. Even in spite of living through this trial, I feel more alive. My relationship with Jesus - and with Dan - is so much deeper, and more full of purpose, love, light, than it has been.
Life after our first chemo treatment was almost normal. The first two weeks were great. The side effects were minimal; Dan was able to carry on his work - and judging practices - just like 'normal'. There was one day with a low fever, but we were able to manage it with Tylenol and it was gone within a day. It was going so well that I made a trip back to Iowa for a few days.
...and then the shoe dropped. Tuesday morning, we got ready for work. Dan came in and said he felt a little nauseous, a little achey, and couldn't stop shaking. He just wanted to sleep, but didn't have a fever. I got home from work that night and it was 103.4. After consulting the oncologist on call at UM, we came to the ER in Lansing.
The nice thing about having cancer is that you don't spend any time waiting with the rest of the sick people and you get in pretty fast. By the time, we checked in, the temp was 100.3, and 3 hours later, it was normal. However, being an 'at risk' patient, they wanted to keep an eye on Dan.
...and now, five days later...it looks as though we will get to check out today. The official diagnosis is sinusitis. The symptoms look a lot like every time Dan gets sick - but, the docs have worked really hard to get this under control - and have done a great job. Our team has been great - and we now have a primary care provider for Dan here in Lansing (and right on campus!).
It's pretty easy to find the silver linings. Dan is getting an idea about his boundaries, but now the challenge for him is figuring out how to make sure his team gets the guidance he wants them to have - without putting himself at too much risk. What he really needs is an assistant coach (for those on our prayer team who want specific things to ask for - ask for this!).
We work in a wonderful, supportive department. We're close to family and friends who have stopped in.
But, I will admit. Day 3 was HARD. HARD. Coming in that morning, I felt so frustrated, abandoned, lonely. It seemed, at that point, like more of the same - like being in Houston, again. So, early in the morning, feeling so sad/dejected, I said to Dan, "let's pray." On Fridays, the mysteries of the Rosary are the Sorrowful - Jesus in the Garden, Jesus being flogged, Jesus crowned with thorns, Jesus carrying the cross, Jesus' death.
Last weekend, my sister-in-law and I were talking about suffering; she had mentioned something about the cross, and I joked, "yeah; just offer it up?" And she said, "No, sometimes, the point is to just sit with him in the sorrow."
On Friday, as we poured out our frustrations, our requests, and the things were thankful for before beginning, my mother-in-law called. As Dan talked to her, I just sat there, and entered into each mystery. Imagining myself there with Jesus, I sat with him in the Garden as he struggled with his sorrow, hugged his cross...and just remained. When we did finish praying the rosary, His peace had entered into my emptiness. [and the meeting with the doctors that day was far more promising!]
About prayer, C.S. Lewis said something to the point that it doesn't change God, it changes us. It very much does that. We are transformed by the presence of Christ - and when we are transformed, it can transform every part of our lives. Your prayer may not change God's will - but, your will can be changed to be more in line with His - and isn't that better?
To attempt to bring this post to a close, here's my point: it's only through prayer that I am able to 'hold on loosely.' Our plans this week got totally up-ended. This was 'supposed to be' Chemo Round 2 week. Here's what I am quickly learning: let go of the 'supposed to'. Hold on loosely to the schedule.
And also: wash your hands.
And another thing: when you see people wearing a mask - it's because YOU are the walking germ-bomb not them. We all give those people a wide berth and usually think we don't want what they've got; it's the other way around - they don't want what you've got. So, if you see Dan wearing a mask in the next few months, it's for his protection - so he can carry on with business.
[also, he shaved his head, and is looking quite handsome, if I do say so myself]
[the other plus side - I've figured out how to get to the hospital; 'discovered' a lovely little restaurant close to the hospital (okay, my bro & sis-in-law highly recommended it first), AND a local chocolatier right next to it - with killer sugar-free dark chocolate peanut butter cups and milk chocolate peanut clusters (for Dan)]