Monday I completed my ninth chemo treatment. (Only eight more to go!) Since there was no school due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the kids and my parents accompanied Patrick and me to MD Anderson this week.
My parents stayed with me during my treatment while Patrick took the kids out to explore Houston. I loved them being there with me rather than having to miss them so much this time! I think it was good for them to see where I go every week and I was thankful my parents were able to meet some of my healthcare team.
Since my red and white blood cell counts plummeted dangerously low after my seventh treatment, my doctor reduced the amount of the drug causing the issues (Carboplatin) by twenty percent last week before my eighth treatment. The reduction has helped my body tolerate the chemo much better.
I still have the usual side effects of fatigue and nausea, but it doesn’t seem to be as severe or last as long. Last week I was able to get out and about for a couple of days, and this week, I’ve faired even better. Wednesdays are usually my hardest days, and yesterday my symptoms were very mild compared to past weeks.
I had an ultrasound last week and received a very encouraging report. The radiologist described the results as “extraordinary” and was very pleased I was responding so well to treatment. All the lymph nodes that were previously measured had shrunk considerably (some of them so much that they had trouble finding them) and the area of cancer had reduced in size so dramatically that she said it was “hard to measure”.
We are so thankful for God’s healing power in my body. While I am incredibly grateful for medicine and the expert medical care I am receiving at MD Anderson, I am aware that without God’s intervention, anything man can do is very limited. To God be the Glory for the things HE has done!
Several weeks ago Creed wanted to invite a friend over for a playdate. I wasn’t feeling well and told him he would have to wait and do it another time. Understanding the reason behind my refusal, he told me he’d take care of it. He said, “Mom, I know you don’t feel good, but don’t worry, I’ll tell him we can’t make any messes because my mom is busy having cancer and she can’t clean up after us.”
And the truth is, this whole cancer thing does keep me rather busy. It’s time consuming to battle this disease. The research, the medicine, the travel, and the just being sick, all takes an insane amount of time out of my days and weeks.
However, I’ve noticed I always feel better when I’m focusing on something else. It’s so easy to let ourselves be consumed by whatever it is that we battle. For me, it’s cancer and all it entails. For you, it might be something different, but the trap to be preoccupied with whatever it is still looms large.
I don’t know what you are “busy having” on this Thanksgiving day. Maybe you are frustrated over what you think you lack. Perhaps you want a bigger house to host family and friends, or you’re fighting resentment because of the lack of finances to travel to see family and friends. Maybe you’re brooding over the fact that you even had to be with family that you didn’t want to be with today.
Your heart may be heavy because of pain in your body, a wayward child or family member, bitterness over a failed relationship or business venture, or heartbreaking, unimaginable grief.
Sometimes we struggle with our thoughts because our reality doesn’t line up with our expectations or plans.
When I woke up this morning, my first thought was that we were not spending Thanksgiving the way we had previously planned. Just days before my diagnosis I was researching flights and hotel packages for our family to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC this year. Watching the parade at home on TV, while feeling weak and nauseated from chemo for Inflammatory Breast Cancer, was not at all in my plans for Thanksgiving 2014.
However, focusing on what “could have been” or “should have been” is a trap that leads to discontentment and depression. Whatever it is that you are “busy having” today, whatever is consuming your thoughts, try to focus instead on everything that is right in your life.
“Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, and admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 NIV)
This morning I realized my thoughts were taking me to a place I didn’t want to go, so I changed them. Not always an easy thing to do, believe me, I know. However, I’ve learned that changing the direction of my thoughts, changes the outcome of my day.
So this morning, instead of “being busy having cancer” and thinking about all that it has changed in our lives, I did this; I thanked God for the man laying beside me who so tirelessly cares for me, the kids, the house, and his business.
I thanked God for my two healthy children, sleeping peacefully in their warm beds, right here in my house.
I thanked God for my parents and sisters who I am blessed to spend Thanksgiving with this year. My sister Lena has worked for several days preparing a delicious dinner for us all to enjoy together this year and she is a great cook!
I thanked God that I feel good and have enough energy today to go to my parent’s house and participate in the Thanksgiving festivities this year.
I thanked God for my wonderful church, extended family, and dear friends who have showered us with their love and support as we navigate our way through this unexpected journey.
And I thank God that He is healing my body so I will have many more Thanksgivings to celebrate.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)
Today, I will not be “busy having cancer”. Today, I will be busy giving thanks.