However, I feel terrible. On April 5, I overexerted myself in an exercise routine to the point where I had to stop due to pain and fatigue. I went home and took a nap, but ten days later, my body was still aching, my back was still hurting and I still had muscle fatigue. The medical team ordered an emergency MRI which showed stability and no spinal cord compromise. But the word came down ... I've got to slow down. No more running, no more pushing myself beyond my limits. I need to establish my limits much earlier in the game (rather than waiting for pain to slow me down) and I need to accept the fact that I'm not going to get the old me back. I did not like hearing this and it has been emotionally difficult for me to process.
Just as I started to feel a bit better (physically), I got hit with a cold. I don't bounce back from colds like I used to. My body has to work harder with its lowered white cell count and quite frankly, I've pretty much felt like crap all week long. I've done nothing but what's necessary each day, sitting on my sofa watching TV most of the rest of the time. Naps have become a part of my daily routine again.
My stomach, while much better, still hurts. I dread eating because that means I'll end up having to go to the bathroom. Without being too graphic, let's just say that bathroom trips are not pleasant. They hurt the rear. I have started taking the prescription antacid again, something I forgot I had as I had refilled it, but put it in the drawer, rather than on the counter.
I wake up in the mornings, filled with aches and pains. My hips hurt, my back hurts and I feel very creaky. I must start my day with a hot shower as that loosens up my muscles and joints and makes it easier to face the day. However, with the cold in my system, I generally feel achy all day long, tempted to take showers several times a day.
In the face of all this, I recognize that this may be how I will feel if the cancer progresses. A physical assault on my physical body is not pleasant. It's no fun to have difficulty on all fronts ... breathing, eating, pooping, sleeping ... all this makes me a very cranky person. My kids keep asking me if I'm okay.
No, I'm not okay.
I told two young women today about the cancer (they didn't know) and one of them repeated the often said refrain, "Just remain positive and keep up a good spirit and everything will be okay."
Where did that come from? No one ever says that to someone with a common cold and we *know* the common cold is going to go away. It's never said to someone in the face of pneumonia because pneumonia is a scary thing to have. Why in the world do we say this to someone with cancer? In the world of cancer, this is known as the "tyranny of positive thinking" and some go as far as to call it bullying the patient. By telling someone that they need to remain positive, it's putting across the message that it's not okay to feel anything else.
Yes, it's going to be okay, because cancer won't win. This isn't to say that cancer won't kill me ... because in all likelihood, it will. However, that doesn't give cancer the victory. My life wins because of who wins it for me.
Yes, I still have eternal hope in an eternal God. There simply HAS to be something more than this life of mine here on this planet. I live with hope, but I cope with uncertainty. My days are numbered. I don't know how many days I have left ... I hope there are thousands and thousands of them ... but at times, the uncertainty is incredibly difficult to deal with.
I generally think I'm a mostly positive person. Nonetheless, when I'm in the face of unrelenting discomfort, the last thing I need to hear is that my attitude will impact any healing (or lack thereof) going on in my body. Some days, I just need to wallow in my own little pity party and when that happens, I need you to let me wallow. I'll snap out of it and will be easier to be around once again at some point.
No, I'm not upset with the woman who told me today to "Stay positive." I know she was shocked by my news and she had incredible love for me to say words she felt were comforting. She had tears in her eyes as she talked with me. However, I do wish such cliches didn't exist.
Our church community lost a beloved member this week. When he was diagnosed with Stage IV prostate cancer, he was told that it was likely he could live another ten years. He was being treated at the same clinic I am and he and I exchanged emails over the past few months. He didn't make his ten years ... he's gone in less than three. My heart grieves for his family and I continue to question why am I doing so well when others are not.
In other words, my cup overflows, even if the cup is cracked and broken. The superglue is still working, in spite of how I'm feeling. My hope is in the solid rock of Jesus Christ and that is enough.
"But keep the Lord Christ holy in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have." (1 Peter 3:15)