However, I have had fun with my bald head throughout the past nine months. I've never been one to panic over my hair. After all, for me, the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is about three days. My hair grows pretty fast.
The first picture in the upper left corner is the one from February, right after I shaved my head as the hair started to fall out. The one next to it is March, then April, etc. The second row begins with July and ends with November.
As you look at June, July and August's photos, you can see the puffiness that was brought on by steroids. My head went from being a nice oval to a round ball! Everything about it was puffy! It's nice to see the oval again.
My hair is more gray than it used to be, but that's okay. I don't plan on coloring it again. Someone said I had a passing resemblance to George Clooney. Comments, anyone?
I used shampoo today, for the first time since February. I have been using simple shower gels, but decided I needed to do a little something special for the hair.
Here I am. 314 days after my initial diagnosis and 291 days past my first treatment. So much has happened in these past few months that it's hard to wrap my brain around it all, much less wrap my emotions around them. This particular stage of the journey to healing is as challenging as active treatment. To me, this is where faith has to play a very important part.
For the past 290 days, I've been *doing* something to deal with cancer. I've been in active treatment and I've put in more miles that one can imagine. (Wait . . . let me go look up the miles . . . 1137 miles from my city in China to Hong Kong (one way), multiplied by eight trips . . . that's 18192 miles (round trip). 6553 miles from my home in China to San Francisco. 51 miles (one way) from my house in Sunnyvale to UCSF in San Francisco, multiplied by 10 visits . . . that's 1020 miles (round trip). 10.5 miles from my house to the radiation oncology clinic, multiplied by 30 times . . . that's 630 miles (round trip). WOW! That's 26,395 miles!)
Logging in all those miles got me the proper active treatments. Chemotherapy, surgery, radiation were all parts of the plan to eradicate the cancer cells in my body. God used the medical world to bring about healing in that following chemotherapy, I was found to be without cancer! I'm still so very amazed by that blessing.
I asked the radiation technicians about my skin response to the treatments. I had been told to expect burning and so many people in the waiting room had that experience. My skin darkened a bit and one area got slightly pink, but I had no burning. The technicians said, "It's because you used all the creams and lotions, didn't you?"
Uh, that would be a NO! I never liked how they felt on my skin, so I never used them until about a week or so ago. Even then, I only used them at night before I went to bed. The technicians were amazed. They said that with my fair skin, they would have expected a far worse reaction. It's a God thing.
But as I said, the next part of my journey is just as hard. I'm no longer *doing* anything! Now's the waiting game and the trusting game. Cancer can return at any time, with absolutely no notice. I have to trust God in his plan for me and trust that he continues to write a good story for my life, regardless of the cancer status.
God's story isn't about material blessings. It's about his amazing love for us and the gift of his son. It's because of that gift that I'm able to look out my window and say, "Thank you for today."
I have today. I'm living today. How may I live for Christ in a way that brings him honor and glory?
We are incredibly and immensely blessed to be where we are today. We don't pretend to understand all the blessings that have come our way. In fact, as I continue to process my emotions, I wonder how to enjoy the blessings while still grieving over what was lost.
The book of Job in the Bible is often used as the example of trials. I'm not going to go into any detail of my thoughts on Job (probably because I don't have many thoughts about the book!), but this question comes to me . . .
The beginning of Job's story starts with the loss of his possessions and the death of his ten children. The end of the book of Job closes with the doubling of his possessions and the addition of ten more children. Job lived to see his great-great grandchildren and lived a bountiful life.
Question: Did he ever stop grieving over the loss of his first ten children?
I know that it takes time to recover from a loss. I know this from personal experience, with the death of my mother in 1989. I know that the first year is the most difficult and then it seems as if the pain ebbs a bit. Because of this, I can try to be patient with myself as I grieve the loss of the entire lifestyle I (we) had in China. It will take time for it to hurt less.
Now that I'm not *doing* anything about the cancer, I have more time on my hands to delve into such thoughts and prayers. Please be patient with me as I process these things. To miss another life and to grieve over that life doesn't mean I'm not grateful for who and where I am now. It just will take much more time for me to settle into this new life.
"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." (Romans 8:26-28)
This promise doesn't mean that my life will be easy. However, it does mean that it will be good.