I’m 50 years of age. I feel 70. My doctor tells me that my body is behaving like a 70 year old. It’s a little scary. Stage IV lung cancer and 15 months of non-stop chemo can do that to you.
The lightest of exercise elevates my heart rate. I get breathless quickly. It’s hard to suck in enough air. It takes nothing to raise a sweat. A crushing feeling in the chest. Shooting pains from the lungs.
I get pins and needles in my feet and hands. Aches in my ankles. Heaviness in the soles of my feet. The signs of peripheral neuropathy. So I only wear shoes when I have to – nothing new there! We reduce the chemo and add some antidepressants. Folic acid and daily cymbalta seems to do the trick.
Headaches are common. A band round the head. Pulsing pain in the temples. Light-headed, dizzy, a cloudy feeling. Couple of panadols, it is.
Blood pressure out of control. Topping the charts one day. Normal the next. Too high overall. Fears of heart failure, strokes, heart attacks. Not to mess around with. We’ll see if daily ramipil antihypertensives bring things down.
Fatigue is growing. I can’t seem to wake up. Some days I spend more time in bed than out of it.
Rashes and redness. Blemishes and acne. Sometimes I feel like a 70 year old going through puberty. The dexamethasone steroids help for a while (don’t tell ASADA), and then we can try some claratine antihistamines, or we can just wait for it to go away.
The weight coming on, then going off, then going on more. Metabolism out of control. Unable to eat. Unable not to eat. The cravings. Self control, diet, careful eating, not too much. Sometimes I think, who cares.
The blood sugar. Getting way too high. Diabetic levels. What next? No lollies, no soft drinks, no chocolate, no jams. That’s all the food groups. What’s left? Exercise more. Get the heart rate up. Burn more sugar. Use up the fuel. I’ll probably have to take a drug for this problem too!
Add an allergic reaction to the contrasts used in the CT scan. Because I came out in hives, they won’t allow me to take it any more, lest I have a more serious anaphylactic reaction.
And then there’s just the overall feeling of being heavily poisoned. Argh!
Where will it stop? When will it stop? I don’t know. But I have a choice.
I can dwell on my problems, be filled with self-pity. I can hide from others, ignore the good, forget God, complain and grumble. I can become a completely selfish pain in the bum. I’ve got a ticket that gives me permission to become a totally self-obsessed whinging prat. It’s called cancer. It lets you get away with all kind of stuff.
I can take responsibility. Get enough sleep and rest. Exercise even when I don’t feel like it. Show restraint with my diet. Be patient when the side effects are worst. Push on with what hurts knowing that it’s an absolute privilege to receive the medical care I have available.
I can rejoice. I can give thanks for my beautiful wife, my fantastic children, my supportive friends, my praying church. I can thank my doctors and nurses. I can praise God for life and hope. I can look outward and love. I can share and give. I can serve and support. I can wonder at the many doors God has opened, for every one that’s closed. I can stop wishing for change and change my wishes. Better still, I can fall on my knees and thank God for his amazing grace to me in the Lord Jesus Christ.
My life is not my own. It was given me by God and I was bought at a price. I’ve already died to myself so that I should live to God. And I can still do this, whatever bits of me don’t work! If God gives me days and months and years, then they are for him. To show perseverance in the face of suffering. To exercise faith in the midst of doubts. To offer kindness when I feel mistreated. To be a friend when I’m lonely. When I am weakest, God can shine through in strength.
I can learn from the Word of God…
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
(first published in macarisms.com on 22/3/13)