Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Dark Before Dawn

I sit here in Houston on a cloudy day awaiting scans and news as to whether or not the chemo is working.  And if it isn't, or if I'll need more, I know God will provide me the strength to get through those rounds, but gosh, I don't want more.

Looking back now to December 7th (the start of chemo) yes, it's gone by quickly.  But, the days and weeks have sometimes seemed to drag.  I want to remember (or maybe I really don't) how it felt to go through it.  Maybe for the purpose of reminding myself in the future when life seems tough I can do tough things.  Or maybe it's more for someone else...to meet them where they are in their journey and let them know that they, too, can get through.

For whatever reason, I write.


On Mondays, early in the mornings, my mom picks me up at my house, and we drive the two hours to the cancer center for treatment.  I know those days will be good days, and I know for the most part that the day after will, too.  But, sometimes I cannot quiet my mind as I see the drugs, especially the red one, push through my veins, knowing that "bad" days are coming - usually two days later.  And, the bad days are weird.  I think I expected them to be physically tough.  I expected the nausea.  I expected the bone pain, although I had no idea what it felt like before I experienced it.  I even expected the fatigue, mouth sores, infected nails, acne, hair loss, lack of appetite, diarrhea and raw esophagus.  What I couldn't wrap my head around before, and still have a hard time doing so, is the mental game.

And, it's difficult to fully describe.  It's a teetering between an out-of-body experience and one in which you're trapped in that very body.  But the body doesn't really work.  I sit there, thinking I should be doing something, but I don't have the mental capacity to do so.  And, one would think in that mental state, it would be so easy to just binge watch a new show, or learn to knit, or maybe do some mind games.  Wrong.  It is as if every fiber of your being is solely focused in getting through the day.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

I pull out my phone to text, and my eyes blur as I try to type the words.  I reach for the remote to watch a movie, and it doesn't even seem worth the effort.  I watch as someone else meets the needs of my children, or how I half-heartedly change a diaper, and try to hold one little one as the noises around me get louder and louder while I feel like I'm digging deeper and deeper into a tunnel.  If I sleep, I won't sleep at night, yet I don't sleep well at night anyway because of the steroids.  So, what do I do?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Or I try, and I get frustrated with my lack of effort.

Then I'm upset...frustrated that I cannot even do the job I'm called to do.  Humiliated that it has taken me this long to learn to give up that sense of control, but still clinging to the idea that it should be me who has enough energy to cook the meals, school and care for the children, clean the home and keep our rule of life, per se.  But, at this time, it isn't  And, sometimes it's more frustrating to try than to simply retreat to a quiet room and be okay just staring at a wall (that desperately needs to be cleaned).

And then...my mind goes.  The questions start to flood in and the bridled fears I typically detach from slowly start creeping up into my throat, and the tears begin to flow.  Will I ever feel "normal" again?  Will I be able to think like I used to?  Will I come from a sense of joy rather than what feels very mundane.  Will I ever hear that the cancer is gone?  Will I remember what life was like before October 21st?  Will food taste good again, and will eating be enjoyable?  What else will change before this is all over? Will this end?

While I know it will, I also know that once a body produces cancer, there is no guarantee it won't produce it again.  There is not a cure.  Every scan, and every little illness for awhile I'm sure will chill to the bone, as I wait for answers.  Yes, I have hope.  Yes, I understand that God knows all of this and has the most perfect plan.  I've never been in a place of despair, but I do think the bad chemo days are close.  And, I hate feeling that way.

Because I know a God who cares about my five-year-old's birthday pinata.  The same God who performed miracles for my sweet Agnes and who has shown me countless ways in which He is in complete control.

But on those "hard" days...the nights and all of their fears and lies rear their ugly heads and remind me that I have a disease...a chronic one.  And sometimes, that is scary.  I want to beat this like we beat flu, or a cold, or even a broken limb.  But, there are too many unknowns.  They can bring us to our knees, but what I sometimes forget is how they also rebuild us into better versions of ourselves.


So, while I would say I hate those bad days and the emotional, mental and physical toll they take on me, I am still grateful (especially when I'm able to look back) because while I sometimes wish for the Britt pre-October 21st, I like the Britt post October 21st better.

Why?  Because I've been forced to carry a cross that has allowed me the grace to become who I want to be.  I wanted to be the one detached of anything unnecessary, and now I'm learning humility.  I wanted to find more joy in life, and oh if you could see me ride my bike with the kids on a day I feel well!  I wanted to let go more, and I've been made to.  I've been made to see that there is no detail left unturned and that even if we don't fully understand every single part of our journey, God does, and He has great purpose in it.  I trust Him more now.  I feel Him closer than ever before.  I'm giving up on the idea that I can earn His love and finally seeing that it's always freely given.

And you know what else I've learned?  Through life's trials and hardships, we have choices.  We can simply get through it day by day, or we can let it change us.  We can focus on the bad days or we can look back on them and see how they've strengthened us.  We can fall under the weight of the cross and stay there, or we can pick it back up, learn how to love better and cling ever so closely to Him.

I want it to change me.

I want to remember the bad because someday I will be able to help someone else push through it.

But I want to live changed by the miracles I would never have seen had this cross not been placed on my shoulders.

Come, Lord Jesus.


The news came back that I do only have one more round of chemo before surgery...unless they find residual disease after.  I couldn't be more thrilled.  And...I can handle it - or better yet, He can!

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