I have felt so optimistic. I don't think it is out of ignorance or denial. It is certainly not because I'm naïve to the effects and difficult path of cancer. Personally, or with others I've watched face this disease that sometimes ends in death. I have learned over the last 5 years that I must live in the moment because a day of worry is a day unlived. A night of anxiety and tears can mean less rest for my body to face the next day with purpose. I've learned this from lots of experience. So, please don't get me wrong. I still have some sleepless nights where I have to pull out my bible and search for comfort, but in that I find that God has met me in this place before. He's spoken purpose into my cancer battle and encouraged me to live out that purpose as well as any regular, nothing special, woman with sin and fears can do. During the day I fill my house with Christian podcasts from all my favorites on Oneplace.com and listen to Christian music in between. I read my bible most days, even when I don't feel like it at all. And you know what? Sometimes those days are the ones I hear God's voice the most. Sometimes I don't hear him at all and it is more about my heart processing what I already know. Remembering what I've learned and how God has proven Himself faithful repeatedly helps me stay optimistic. Going for check-ups and scans make me feel more like a realist as I know they can keep coming back showing cancer even when we've asked God to take away this burden. Yesterday when my doctor reminded me that we are just doing this treatment for quality and extension of life, not a cure, my optimism quickly slid to realism once again. I've been battling this in my mind ever since and constantly reminding myself that my battle is fought by the Lord. It is not all up to science or my actions or beliefs or response. It didn't help me feel better about it when my blood counts have dropped to where they had to decrease my treatment yesterday to 50%. They will do this next week as well in hopes that my counts will be good enough to take on a stronger large treatment on the 16th. I had decided this was a praise and not to worry about it because I hope to feel good enough to enjoy some of our labor day week-end.
However, once my pre-meds and Taxol were finished the nurse pushed some saline and Heparin through my port IV (as she always does) and within 60 seconds I tasted it very strong and then it felt like flames going up my throat and a flaming heat came over my body from head to toe like I've never felt before. This had to be a heat that was 10 times worse than any CT contrast I've had before. I felt like I was choking and couldn't breath and my vision went double and blurry. I don't know how long this lasted, the heat went and came with a vengeance in 60-90 seconds and then my double vision seemed to correct itself and became less blurry in about 5 minutes. My body was wiped out and weak/shaky. My heart rate had spiked and my blood pressure spiked, but I recovered pretty well and am back to normal this morning. It was very scary and I've had two other episodes from treatment that were scary before, but this was the worst. The doctor came and said that he thinks I could have had clusters of bacteria inside the port reservoir and that when the nurse flushed the fluid through there at a fast pace it pushed the bacteria down into the blood stream causing my body to react, kind of like the body thinking I had sudden blood poisoning or something. I had to wait there 45 minutes or so for observation. Then, the nurse took blood from the port and is sending it to an outside lab to test for bacteria. We had to flush the port again and I was so scared, but the nurse wouldn't admit she was. She put the saline and heparin in very slow this time and was so professional!
Last night I was reminded of a verse that I read and as it came to mind it helped me move back toward optimism again. God can do that. His word and prayer can definitely do that. It's conversation; wisdom straight from the King to my heart.
In Deuteronomy we learn that when the Israelites left Egypt for the land promised to their ancestors it was expected to take 11 days and it took 40 years! ( vs. 1:2-3) We are reminded that during the 40 years, the Lord God was with them every step of the journey and the Israelites lacked nothing. (vs. 2:7) In chapter 7 Moses calls out things to remember that encourage us today. The battles that God fought against the enemies and the terror He brought upon them, the miraculous signs and wonders and the strong hand and powerful arm God used to bring them out of slavery from their enemy, Egypt.
"The Lord your God will use this same power against all the people (CANCER CELLS) you fear. And then, the Lord your God will send terror to drive out the "few (CANCER CELL) survivors" still hiding from you (and the chemo). You will not clear them away all at once, otherwise the wild animals (KRAS growth gene) would multiply too quickly for you. He will throw them into complete confusion until they are destroyed." Deuteronomy 7:19-20, 22b-23
How this speaks to my optimistic faith. We serve a powerful God and there is so much proof of it, not only in scripture, but in our own lives as He provides the unexpected repeatedly in a way that lets us know it is only from the Lord as He is fulfilling His promise to us. Just as he fulfilled his promise to the Israelites when he did bring them across the Jordan to the promised land.
"For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills." Deuteronomy 8:7
How I wait for God to bring me into a good land! You'll find me there with my toes in the flowing streams!
So yesterday did bring some unexpected discouragement, but as I remembered my belt of truth I am once again encouraged by my creator that He is in control and my discouragement arrow is pulled right out of my armor as I march forward for the next battle. There are a few more survivors we must take down. And that leader named KRAS Gene.....I think he's getting very confused.