And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 1 Peter 5:10
Status update: Chemotherapy infusion Cycle 1 of 6 completed! Side-effects experienced are fatigue, nausea, headaches and “chemobrain”. Cycles begin ever 21 days. Cycles 2 - 6 will be administered locally at Kymera Cancer Treatment Center, here in beautiful home-sweet-home Roswell. Tumor and swollen glands “feel” like they are shrinking! Die Timmy, die!
This past week has been a rush of all kinds of experiences: my first round of chemotherapy, dealing with the challenges of coronavirus evasion, trying to escape Houston while minimal flight service was operating (AND avoiding coronavirus exposure!), and then being absorbed by the side-effects of chemotherapy.
For me, Sunday through Wednesday was a challenge of trying to exist with greatly diminished energy and enduring mild nausea. But more than that, I felt as if part of my intellectual horsepower (which ain’t much, lemme tell ya!) and mental bandwidth was severely limited. It’s hard to explain, but you know that feeling when you wake up from a nap and you don’t remember the time or even the day; groggy, headache, dizzy? I called it “chemobrain”, but I found out it’s an actual term. Yeah – 3.5 days of that. It wasn’t until Thursday that the fog was starting to clear – and the nausea (finally) began to abate. So if you tried to have a preschool level conversation with me in any form and I didn’t respond or I acted weird, that’s why.
The most important lesson I’ve learned is the beautiful and generous outpouring of support from everyone. Cancer survivors have been the most earnest in giving me tips and encouragements. Dear friends have dropped off some groceries because we’re in state-mandated self-quarantine until the 12th (also, I’m immuno-suppressed, so social distancing is de rigueur, anyway). Calls, texts, Facebook encouragements all sent because they were prompted by the Holy Spirit to lift me up. What has this done? I’ve been lifted up so much, I’m at 15,000 feet! The worst part is that I can’t answer everyone – especially on Facebook. If you’ve noticed, I haven’t posted directly on to Facebook about this journey because it’s hard for me not to respond. But I read them – and I love you for caring!
My convalescence – which it’s ironic that it’s happening at the same time the world is doing its own kind of convalescence – has forced me to simply be still. It is something I’m not accustomed to, nor do I typically enjoy.
I think – in a way – all of us are having to look at our present circumstances and make a choice.
The Choice is Yours
It’s a matter of attitude. We can either see treat our current circumstances as a kind of modified and temporary Sabbath or rue it as a distasteful criminal sentence we just have to endure.
I understand the later attitude. I don’t think I’ve ever missed a Palm Sunday or Easter – ever. But I knew I would this year because of my cancer treatment consequences (unknown vocal quality, limited strength and immuno-compromised system). But then a “funny” thing happened: coronavirus put us all in the same boat – we’re stuck doing the same thing. We can curse at it – or we can find a way to make the best of it and praise him, and with Job say: “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord..” (Job 1:21)
As I’ve said earlier, I choose to consecrate this illness and make it serve the purpose of God. I don’t know how – that is not my lane. But I know others have taken notice and they, too, have opened their hearts to learn from God in a new way. And I’m okay with that.
Why It Matters
In 126 AD, a deadly plague was ravaging Asian minor and southern Europe. Dubbed the Antonine Plague or the Plague of Galen, it would go down in history to claim over 5 million lives. Looking for a scapegoat to pin the blame on, Marcus Aurelius blamed Christians because they had angered the gods by their refusal to pay homage to the pantheon. What the haters did not count on, was that Christians were the ones who helped the poor and dying, and also gave them hope in the afterlife, with Christ’s promise of reunification with believing loved-ones. Christianity thrived while the world languished. Where do you suppose that attitude came from?
Not too long before the Plague struck, Paul wrote to the Philippians believers – in an eerie way, almost in preparation for this disaster.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you, shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. Philippians 2:14-16)
We know what they did with that verse. The historical record is incontrovertible. That second century church did beautiful acts of mercy and kindness then.
She can do the same today.
The Church has a wonderful opportunity right now – especially in this Season of Remembrance – to point to the great and eternal truths of the Gospel that brings meaning to life, meaning to our struggles (even cancer), and nullification of our death (even if by cancer). Our Jesus is the Resurrection King! I'm confident that if we take cues from our early brothers and sisters, the same testimony will be said of us.
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