You know when you are riding the Hogwarts Express on your way to school and the witch with the treat cart comes by and you just have to buy a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean? Yeah that is what it is like going through chemotherapy. You never know just what flavor you are going to get. Sometimes its a nice watermelon or kiwi and the next is grass or mud. So far I have had three chemo treatments and so far I have had three different reactions to them. My first flavor was anxiety and an onset migraine the day of the Liberty Bowl. The next flavor was hair loss, which had it’s own unique spin on things. Now I thought as I reached into the bag for my next flavor that I would use a little trickery to get around any bad tastes. See you learn as you go. You figure out the game that cancer is playing with you. You can almost see the next move and you plan for it. The second treatment had no serious ill effects on me physically. I thought that was due to my diet and food intake regime. So I tried to mimic that the best that I could. First, I was told to always stay hydrated, drinking lots of water and or gatorade. So starting the Monday after chemo (which was on Thursday), I took a water bottle every day to work. Next, I was told that I should make sure to eat breakfast. Every day this week I have had a bowl of good fiber cereal and low fat milk. Third, I was told to eat protein. So I employed my mother to make deviled eggs for me. ( I know that eating a bunch of deviled eggs is probably not the best thing for me, but if you are thinking this it is obvious that you have not ever eaten my mom’s deviled eggs). I take three deviled eggs with me to lunch. Fourth, my wife makes an incredible salad. Thus everyday I have had a great salad for lunch with my eggs and water. So my diet this week has been exactly that of my diet during chemo round 2. How naive of me to think that I could figure out the King of the Maladies. How naive indeed. Even in our best efforts to avoid negativity and hurt, the world sometimes finds a way to bring it anyway. Well cancer found a way.
Yesterday after my good morning and excellent lunch, I found that my vision was going on the fritz. To be honest, I was playing candy crush as a post lunch relaxation device and I could not see the whole screen on my phone at one time. There were spots in my vision. When I stood, I felt like my world was tilting and going dim. I began to lose all energy. While teaching my next class I could not plot points on a coordinate plane correctly. I began to sweat and get hot. My stomach started churning. I really honestly don’t know how I made it to the end of that class. Really it was me pleading with God that He would let me get home before the worst happened. This is the part of the story where I truly feel thankful. At my job I work with teachers. Teachers are some of the most caring people in our lives. Yesterday they took my slack. The kindness of another carrying a load for you can make or break you. Yesterday, because of that kindness, I made it home.
That is of course when the worst happened.
I took meds and laid in bed between trips to the bathroom. The hours ticked by with no relief. I can’t imagine that feeling lasting any longer. At moments I just wanted the pain and discomfort to stop. Just stop. I would do anything to make this stop. And it didn’t stop. The migraine set in. The nausea never quit no matter how many trips I took. I thought, “there is no way I can continue on like this.” Then sleep came. I awoke to a better feeling head and stomach, but I really couldn’t move. The rest of the evening was spent in and out of sleep. Oyster crackers and water was dinner. And bed again before ten. The next morning I woke up to a dull pain in my head from the migraine. And I woke up to exhaustion. Today has been a day of little movement from my podium at school. Nap after school.
The third flavor of cancer was not good.
Now where do I go from here? The good thing is that at my school there are alot of cancer survivors. I talked to three of them today. Each gave me more advice about dealing with these bad flavors. See that’s the move that cancer is unaware that I am taking. See while it plans all the nasty things to do in my body, it doesn’t know that I have a team behind me. I have veterans to help guide me through the challenges and make the next move. I have doctors who can monitor the nasty things that happen to me and prescribe other medicines to help take care of unwanted discomfort. I have a support team of family and friends who pray for me, bring food, rake leaves, get me a glass of water, and ask how they can help daily. And above all I have a leader who already knows cancer’s next move. That is where I go from here. The biggest thing that Christ is teaching me through all this is that nothing is certain but Him. He knows the plans He has for me and they are more than I can ever ask for or imagine. So I have to trust Him that He knows cancer’s next move. He knows how to best handle it. So I am going to rely on Him to move me through.
Another thing I have learned is that this is not a race, it is a marathon. Also, I want to be a hare, but I really have to be a tortoise. As is with life. Don’t just run through it, crashing and clanging into obstacles. That is what I was trying to do. I was trying to actively beat cancer with all my energy and it was because of all that effort that I crashed. Slow and steady wins this race. Patience is not something that I am good at, but it is something that I am learning.
I will be reaching into the bag of Every Flavor Beans again a week from today. I don’t know what the flavor is that I will get, but I worship the one who does. Here is to a nice toffee flavored one.