When I began this journey with Hodgkin Lymphoma a few months ago, I really didn’t know what to expect. My father went through the same regimen for the most part, but even though I was very close to him during all that struggle, I was still not ready for the full “Cancer” treatment. For those of your that really know me, you know that I am not a very patient person. That goes for having patience and being a patient (see what I did there?). Today was chemo treatment number 7. If you remember my first treatment was on December 27th of last year. That seems like an eternity ago. That was even before I started my blog. Now I am a veteran of the chemo ward. Everybody knows my name there, just like Norm from Cheers. I have now had the pleasure of sitting in all the different nooks and crannies in the chemo dock. I have also run the gamit of side effects. I went through hair loss, metallic mouth, exhaustion, nausea, and migraines. I have had some of the worst days of my life these past few months, but I must say I have also had a few of my best days. And you know readers, I really couldn’t have had those best days without cancer. Really think about that. Our trials in life are what make life beautiful. They are the things that expose us for who we really are. A few years ago through a series of actions some good, a lot bad, I lost many of my closest friends. It was one of the best times of my life, because it was so awful. When my father went through chemotherapy I was in middle school. Then my parents separated for a time. Because of my dad’s journey, I had a guide here with me every step of the way. Because of that time apart, my parents love each other more today than they ever did, and they love us (the kids) better too. I know I probably sound like a broken record by now. Maybe I look at the bright side of life too much or maybe thats just the way God wants it. Don’t get me wrong, many days I am just ready for this to be over. However, I can’t help but sit back and think, “God what are you really doing here.” It has got to be good.
I watched a lot of TV growing up. It wasn’t that my parents weren’t interested in me or that I was terribly unathletic (although I was terribly unathletic), I just really enjoyed it. Being a kid of the 80s and 90s really set me up for some quality television. More on that at another time. Really I wanted to focus on not my favorite show, but a show that came to mind to me this week. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was one of the oddest shows ever made. Really lets be honest the puppets were terrifying. They were something out of a horror movie and the voices they had were equally disturbing. Really the big draw of the show was not the puppets and other characters, but Mr. Roger himself. The way that he introduced himself to his audience. He always made you feel comfortable and welcome. Then he spoke words that were just for you. Made you hear them, not by force, but because you wanted to hear them. That’s when I heard about being kind to others, sharing, lending a helping hand, and that hard word to understand, empathy. Another key thing that Mr. Rogers said is listed in a small book I have on my desk at school. Its a book of quotes by Mr. Rogers and on the front is a mirror and the words, “You are Special.” I think I got this book as a graduation gift. I still look at it and smile today, because I mean how can’t you smile at that. Well in that book is a quote that goes something like this:
“Sometimes it is not a sign of weakness when you ask for help….sometimes it is a sign of strength.”
I don’t know if I have ever been the kind of person that liked to handle things alone. I have always been the one to want to have someone there with me through every situation. I like companionship and friendship. However, I am one stubborn kid. I hate to be told no and thats not possible. I also don’t like to be taken care of. You can ask my parents. I hated to be told what to do. For instance, if I was supposed to clean my room it had to be on my terms. I didn’t want to be told now was the time to clean. I wanted to clean in Bryce’s time. Same thing with getting out of bed in the morning. I wanted to get up when I wanted to, not when anyone else wanted me to. This obsession has overflowed into my classroom. Not that I have the most organized room in the world, but my process is set and my way of distribution and grading and leading class is perfect for my room. I love it. All of this is leading up for me to tell you that this week was the worst week of my year.
It started off just fine. All the problems arose on Tuesday at lunch. See my “bad days” after chemo are typically the Tuesday and Wednesday directly after treatment. This Tuesday saw the arrival of another migraine episode. I really hate migraines. I used to suffer from them a lot more in high school and college, but they have only just resurfaced again since chemo. Migraines are very elusive things. No one really knows why they happen or how to effectively stop them. Everyone who suffers through them like me have some tricks of the trade to handle them. Sometimes these little aids help and sometimes they just do nothing. Really nothing works well to stop the pain. A migraine means I am out for the next 3-4 hours. And there is nothing I can do to stop it. The most frustrating part is that a migraine looks like nothing to the common bystander. They see no physical pain besides that which you show on your face. No one around you really knows the pain you are going through except you. At least when people see someone break a leg they aren’t wondering if the guy is faking it. With me I am always like, “I have a migraine.” But I feel like people hear me say, “my head hurts a little bit.” I wish the pain I felt was visible on the outside, like my head was bulging or something. Here is how my migraines start:
First, one of my eyes, usually my right eye begins to have blots of my vision missing. I can’t focus, my vision begins to blur, and I lose a bit of depth perception. It is almost like I lose sight out of my eye with it being completely open. As my vision comes back, a slight ache begins above my left eyebrow. My vision comes back completely, but the pain is becoming greater. I begin to sweat from the stress and strain. My words start to slur and stumble. I can’t figure out what I am trying to say. The pain is now so great that it is all I focus on. Light hurts to look at. Sound begins to feel like it is bouncing in my skull. I have to run. Nausea sets in. All I want to do is rip the pain out. Nothing makes the pain subside. And there I twist and turn for hours until I either throw up all that is in my stomach and fall asleep or I get medicine that knocks me out before the nausea is done. Laying in the dark with an ice pack on my forehead helps, but it is no match for the pain. And there I am waiting for the pain to subside.
That scene was my Tuesday afternoon. That scene was my Wednesday most of the day. That scene was my Thursday afternoon. Each day I tried a different medicine approach. Each day the medicine failed to help. Every day I woke up feeling good and went to school to teach. Every day I felt my vision begin to “short out” and I knew what was coming. After three days of nausea, headaches, and frustration, I took Friday off just in case. I took the day slow and tried to pick up the pieces of my mess of a week. We found out that migraines really weren’t usual chemo side effects. So that means I am unique….yay. Another theory might be that the migraines are caused by anxiety brought on by the chemo. Also I have two more treatments left and if this is a sign of things to come, I really dread the last two trips. But I can’t think like that for the anxiety in me might explode. All I know is that I am ready for the end.
I really had to learn that lesson from Mr. Rogers this week. I could not have made it through this week alone. I needed help. I needed my wife to fix me the best ice pack ever made and hold it on my forehead while I slept. She also covered up windows in our bedroom to block the light out. I needed my fellow teachers to step in and take care of my students that I had to leave in the middle of the day. Again I am reminded of how amazing it is to have willing and able people around you who care about you. I had to sit down and swallow my pride and say, “I can’t do this.” I think Mr. Rogers is right. It is harder sometimes to say you need help.
So many people ask me all the time what can they do and I always say, “oh nothing,” or “just pray.” The fact is that it is so much harder to accept the gift of help. We are such selfish beings. We think we can do it all, but the truth is that we really can’t. So thanks everyone for stepping up and saying, “let me do that.” This week, I really couldn’t have done it without you.
Most people love Spring Break. I am one of those people. I have always had a Spring Break. It is one of the many perks of being a teacher. Ever since I was young, Spring Break has always meant vacation. Mainly those vacations were in Disney World. When I was in 9th grade, I went to Disney World with my good friend Geoff and his family. It was epic. In college, I went with a group of friends from Mississippi College. That trip too was epic. After college, Carly and I traveled to Disney World with my sister and her now husband. Then yet another year we went with our good friends Steven and Chrissy. Both trips were, as you guessed, epic. This year there would be no Disney World. Instead there would be chemo. I love this time of year at Disney and really just this time of year. Spring Break this year began with Daylight Savings Time, which is great that there is more sunlight after 5 pm. I love long afternoons that extend into the evenings. It is a grea time to have a walk or play some frisbee. It is also a great time to be at EPCOT at Disney World. EPCOT just started their annual Flower and Garden Festival, which showcases the Disney Park’s green thumb. You really can see the change from Winter barren to Spring bloom.
1. fixed door and microwave
2. much needed hours of doing nothing
3. lunch at both Two Sisters (fried chicken!) and Old Capital Inn(Crab Cakes!)
4. lunch before chemo with our great friends the Sharpes and their 5 amazing kiddos at Chick fil a
5. listening to acoustic guitar Pandora while talking with my wife
6. listening to EPCOT background music with my wife while driving around running errands (yes I married the right woman, and yes if you want some EPCOT background music just ask)
So there the goods out weigh the gripes. Sometimes its great to just have a little perspective. Life will always have the Spring Forwards and the Fall Backs, but we have to keep the positives. I could sit and complain all day about my metallic mouth or the nausea OR I could laugh it off and know that I am getting healed.
There is a season for everything under the sun.
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
“Hello my name is Child of the One True King.” – Matthew West
“Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” – Genesis 32:28
Childlike Empress: He doesn’t understand that he’s the one who has the power to stop it(the Nothing). He simply can’t imagine that one little boy could be that important.
Bastian: Is it really me?
Atreyu: Maybe he doesn’t know what he has to do!
Bastian: What do I have to do?!
Childlike Empress: He has to give me a new name. He’s already chosen it, he just has to call it out.
“The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.” – Isaiah 62:2
What was your last birthday like? Let me tell you about mine. It was incredible.
Birthdays have never really been that important to me. Mainly because I never really felt that important to other people. There have been many attempts to make me happy on my birthday. One year we went bowling. One year the whole theme was aliens (90s right?). I have a VHS video of my 2nd birthday. We would watch it just to see me burst into tears during the prayer before we eat. I also got Cinderella for my birthday that year (guess that explains alot…..mainly the Disney obsession). There were many sleep overs with lots of Pizza, cake, and Nintendo 64 (Goldeneye people….Goldeneye). Then there were the years where everyone was determined to give me a surprise birthday party…..yeah only worked once. I caught you all every other time! But that one time scared me real bad, so kudos I suppose. To me my birthday was never about the presents. It was always about the people. I really feel loved when people tell me what I mean to them. Also I really enjoy just spending time with people whom I love and who love me. It is a good thing that birthdays are never really about the presents, because I am the worst at hiding how I really feel about my gift that I receive. So naturally I turn red anytime I open gifts from people. Having wedding showers was the worst for this. One year for Christmas my grandmother got me a statue of an Indian princess sitting on a rock with two wolves on either side (“Nanny, I LOVE it, I can’t wait to put this on display and impress my friends. Nothing says greatness like this Indian princess with wolves.”). My grandmother loved figurines so we got our fair share. I digress. Birthdays are a time where people treat you like they treat you at Disney World. They are kind to you, they praise your accomplishments, they celebrate that you are in their lives, and they genuinely care for you. Birthdays have always been great for my ego. Like I said, I feel loved when people tell me how much they love me and appreciate me. This is typically known as today as giving words of affirmation or encouragement. I need this daily. Birthdays give this to me in steroid form. Then Facebook was created.
I remember those first years when Facebook was up and running. I remember getting tons more messages and posts on my wall during my birthday than any other time. Every year it got better. One friend posted right before their birthday, “let the birthday messages commence.” Boy were they right. It really goes to show that a little two word phrase can make a person feel so much better than they were the few seconds ago. It is the little things that build up and give us strength to make it through our day. The little messages. Today so many people wished me happy birthday. I almost never return the favor, but that is not why people take the time. They simply pay love forward.
Thanks to skipping one week of chemo therapy, I had a chemo treatment today….on my birthday. I honestly was dreading it. I am over halfway through with chemo and I am ready for it to be over. But you see, there was much more in store for me this day that I would ever imagine. At school, the teachers on my hall had a big breakfast pitch in for me. They knew I wouldn’t eat lunch at school so they had breakfast. I ate 5 doughnuts. And some other goods too. Then I entered my room just to find it completely decked out with balloons and streamers that my first period students set up for me. Then as they came in one by one after the bell, each student had something different: cupcakes, drinks, rotel, more doughnuts, candy, etc. Such a kind gesture for their teacher. It meant the world to me. I sounded so corny asking the students to take a group picture with me, but you know I need that memory. Next period, three students arrive at my door with party hats and t-shirts that said, “Happy Birthday, Yelverton!” on them. Again such a kind gesture just to make me feel special. I even got a few dollars. It’s the small stuff people. The little things. Those are the ones that really count. Hug a teacher tomorrow.
12:00 – game time – chick fil a – poly sauce – numbing cream – blood work – extremely low white blood count – fear that we would skip treatment – treatment goes forward – and then: enter my sister with a cake and again party hats.
Last time I had treatment, Becca thought it would be cool if we brought a cake up to the chemo dock to share since it was my birthday. So after I got my piece, Carly and Becca brought cake to all the nurses at the Cancer Center. Celebrate always. Celebrate the small things. Life is short….eat cake first.
My day was not over. After the Facebook messages, the phone calls, the texts, the cake, the doughnuts, the poisonous liquids, the benadryl coma, and the drive home, Carly and I saw our house and huge banners covering the front door. In the mailbox was more mail than I have ever received in my life in one day. I can’t tell you how encouraging the words were in those letters. Tears of blessing have followed.
This has been the greatest birthday. Because today, not only did I celebrate one more year alive, but I also actively pursued living until my next. I had chemotherapy on my birthday, so that I could have another birthday. And I will. Next year though, I’ll skip the chemo. I love you all.
“Thank you for being a friend.” – Golden Girls
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C. S. Lewis
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, the other can pick them up, but pity the one who falls and has no one to help them up!” – Ecc. 4:9-10
“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
Journey Strong Dear Readers – Thanks for being a friend.
To eat humble pie – to act very humble when one is shown to be wrong
First off, it was a great week. No migraine. No nausea. Of course there was the complete numbness in my fingers and hands for a few days. And there was you know that complete weird feeling that something is wrong. But really in the grand scheme of the week, it was a great one. When I was beginning my journey as a blogger, I was really just trying to give people an easy way to get an update on my progress and to ease their minds. I truly never thought that many people would take a look at this site.
Recently I have really been questioning my career as a teacher. I am sure we all do this no matter the profession. I made it over the hump of 5 years as a teacher and education has not run me off yet. But still I question is this really what I am made for. I teach Geometry and Trig/Advanced Algebra. Some days I truly wonder why I am teaching some of this stuff. Honestly people I adore Mathematics and I respect it. I just cannot make learning the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra sexy or most other topics for that matter. (Although I do have a pretty incredible ratio and proportions lesson that revolves around Disney (see previous posts)). That being said, many days I wonder if I am even making an impact. I think do these kids even hear me? Surely they don’t.
A big thought in the world today is that God doesn’t care about the details. He doesn’t care about the minute things that we care about. Like if we wake up to see the sunrise or feel a cool breeze or eat a favorite piece of candy. The thought goes something like, “yeah God CARES about the BIG things like, you know, MAJOR struggles and fears and doubts, but he could care LESS about the other stuff.”
When I look back at my life, I see mistakes. I see decisions I have made that hurt people. I see the downfalls, the failures, the embarrassment. Others see it too. They tell me about them to my face and behind my back. I feel worthless. I feel guilty. I feel shame. Surely that is what God sees, because He sees everything. He knows more secrets than anyone. He sees me as the scum that I am.
I actually feared this week. I was afraid on Monday, when I felt down all day. Not ill just down and weak. I truly trembled all day on Wednesday, worried about another migraine. Yet all week, I have slowly realized that God loves me. No this is not a new sensation, yet it feels new again. Here is how it went. First there was no illness. No Migraine. No nausea. No pain. Then the most incredible things began happening.
Monday afternoon, while my students were taking a test, a former student came into my room with a poster. She brought it to my desk and there in front of me was a picture of Timon and Pumbaa with the words Hakuna Matata written in big letters across it (that means no worries). No only that, but the poster was signed by people…Lots of people. To say I was touched is an understatement. I barely kept it together. The next morning though, I walked into my room to find my walls covered with student artwork, depicting different characters from the world of Disney. Many of those too filled with signatures and notes from students and teachers. I was floored. God says, “hey Mr. Yelverton, you are loved.” Thank goodness noone was in the room to see the waterworks. That moment might have been the greatest moment of my career as an educator. It had nothing to do with math.
Wednesday night I was feeling great and I got to teach bible study at the church to the youth group. We are studying Romans and man does Paul remind us we are guilty. But the thing is, I love teaching. It doesn’t matter if it is math, the bible, Disney, I love to teach. God says, “hey Bryce, go teach, you are good at it.”
Thursday and I am feeling like my old self again. My “non chemo” self. Lunch is great, but see I just introduced Theta to my Geometry students and Theta is kind of spelled like Feta and that makes me really just want to eat Keifer’s (greek restaurant in Jackson). Saturday is my father in law’s birthday so Carly and I called and asked him if we could take him to dinner. His pick. We call him on the way and say, “where you want to eat?” He says, “I just had this crazy thought to go to Keifer’s, what do you think?” God says, “hey Bryce, go eat a Gryo.”
Wednesday night after church I pretended like I needed to go to Kroger to get some few essentials like deodorant and toothpaste, but really I knew that the Easter candy was being put out now that Valentine’s is over. I got to Kroger just to see boxes blocking the now Easter candy aisle. My beloved Sweettart Jelly Beans were not yet ready to be sold to the public. (I did buy deodorant don’t worry) While at dinner, my mom calls me and asks if we are at home. I say no, why? She says, “oh I have some bags of Sweettart Jelly Beans for you.” She places them in my mailbox. I am eating them while I type. God says, “Bryce, I know you.”
Now bare with me. I know some of this can truly be blown way out of proportion. You might be thinking, “God does not care about you getting Jelly Beans.” But you see to me it is all too clear. God is in the details. He is there when you look for Him. It wasn’t because I challenged him. God give me Jelly Beans so I know you are out there. No it was the still, small voice. It was quiet. But I heard him loud and clear. “Son, you are loved.”
Sometimes I just have to sit down and admit I am wrong. Eat a big piece of humble pie. Because God does not see me as a pile of mistakes and failures. He does care about what I care about. He wants to hear about it and experience it with me. He came for me even in my sin. He does care about the details. He cares about your details too.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8
You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> from afar.
You discern my going out<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(E)”> and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
I praise you<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(T)”> because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139: 1-3, 13-14
The olympics are one of the most fascinating, exciting, enthralling events that occur in life. They swoop in every two years and capture our hearts, time, and energy for two glorious weeks and then they are gone just like that. When they come around I often analyze just why these are so fun to watch and why do I just love every bit of it? I think I have come to know why. First off there are the opening ceremonies. Arguably these are the highlight of the games every time. But the worst part of the show is the reason why I love them so much. You know the part I am talking about. The parade of nations. This is where all the countries competing enter the stadium under the cheers and yells of the onlookers. Of course this takes the better part of forever, but what a picture of heaven. The nations joining together, cheering each other on as they enter. That’s what heaven is going to be like. Walking into the thunderous cheers and celebration of everlasting life and never ending joy. I can’t wait. Of course we probably won’t walk in alphabetically, but if we do that’s ok too I don’t mind waiting. After the opening ceremonies there are the competitions. There are my favorites, the silly ones, and the just plain bizarre and yes most of those overlap. I love hearing the back stories of the athletes and the road to the olympics. Just to be there is an accomplishment, but to get there and win is beyond amazing. So much talent and specialty in one place. The athletes look so distant from us and then we get to see their back story and they are sitting there in our living room just like us. I love it. Another perfect view of the body of Christ. So much talent, so much uniqueness, and yet we are all the same, beautifully and wonderfully made.
The olympics are about halfway done. My chemo treatments are halfway done. I started this chemo journey with hopes of chemotherapy gold. I just knew I would hit every treatment in stride and react to the meds perfectly. But just as I have watched dreams dashed this week with the likes of Shaun White, Hannah Kearney, and the latest tonight with Evgeni Plushenko, I have watched these chemo treatments take a toll on me. Maybe I was not ready for competition. Maybe I did not psych myself up enough before each treatment. Maybe I am just in the wrong event (I really feel I would kill it in curling). I truly think the way that these three competitors have taken loss has been breathtaking. Shaun White hugs and congratulates the winner and gives a hug to his interviewer. True human spirit there. Hannah Kearney braves the camera interview before breaking into tears right after from the truly heartbreaking mogul hit for her. And my favorite moment, Evgeni Plushenko bows out of the competition from major back pain that would reduce his jumps to nothing. This is not a favorite because he was out, it was a favorite moment because when they interviewed him at the end, he showed his true colors. It was humbling to see someone be completely open and honest on camera and show such sincerity. He told the interviewer that he was just like her, not a super human. He said he fought to the very end and gave it his best. I want to be able to say that.
I am not in the finals. I am in the qualifying rounds. I see the next jump, the next mogul, the next move in my routine. I cannot imagine doing what these athletes do to train and compete. I can’t do it. That’s the beauty of this chemotherapy is that I can’t do that either. Really it is only happening because of Christ living in me.
Another great thing about the olympics this year is that their is a big emphasis on the Matryoshka Doll that you seem prominently on the slopestyle course. These are the Russian nesting dolls that get smaller as you open them. There is a great place that we take our youth to in Macon, MS called Lake Forest Ranch. It is a christian camp for students that we spend a week at every summer with the youth from my church, Calvary Baptist. Last summer the camp director, Rich, gave the youth leaders something to think about when we see these Matryoshka Dolls. He said Christ has God in Him and then we have Christ in us and then we are in Christ and Christ is in God. We are those nesting dolls. Christ in us and us in Christ. It is a beautiful picture. And it is truly the only reason I believe I am making it through chemo. Every time I see that doll on the slope at Sochi, how can I not remember that?
I had so much anxiety heading into the treatment today. I am just tired of them. It was the first time I had to sit in the main room for treatment. All the side rooms were taken. The process bothered me, the constant beeping from the drip machines bothered me, and most of all TV Land bothered me. But I have to sit back and remember, “Hey, God’s got this.”
There was no triple cork flip, triple lutz jump, or record time on my treatment. There was no national anthem for my country played. There was no crowd cheering for the excellent way that the nurse pushed the Red Devil in me for the fourth time. But something more amazing is going on than me catching great air and landing tricks, I am being cured of a cruel and nasty disease that is trying to kill me. And I am taking it one run at a time. Half way there. I can almost taste the gold or is that the chicken mcnugget? Apparently they are comparable.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Cause when I’m weak, You make me strong
When I’m blind, You shine Your light on me
Cause I’ll never get by living on my own ability
How refreshing to know You don’t need me
How amazing to find that you want me
So I’ll stand on Your truth, and I’ll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory, by the power of Christ in me – MercyMe
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.
Cancer is extremely inconvenient. I am sure it is like this for all patients. It is a wonder why the patients sounds a lot like patience. For those that do not know, I teach high school math. For all you teachers out there reading, you know how difficult it is for us to miss days. It is so much easier for me to be at school than for me to be out. The kids would probably tell you that as well. One of the greatest things about living in the town that you went to high school and college in (yes I really did that and currently live about 100 yards away from the high school), is that you get to interact with the teachers and professors that impacted you through the years. I remember a conversation from my 10th grade English teacher a while ago where we talked about missing school. She said to me that there are so many little things that we do during the day that no one else really knows to do in our classroom. I completely agree. No one knows my classroom like I do. No one knows that the AC/Heat only has two settings low and high and the medium is there to throw you off. No one knows how to tap the side of the projector just right to get the light to pop on. No one knows the perfect pathway to walk when passing out papers or how to not trip over the cords to my computer, overhead, and other such technology. The point is that it is extremely stressful to miss school. Cancer loves for me to miss school. Last week I had to miss a half day just to be told that my white counts were low. I rearranged the entire second half of the week just to help the students not get behind the goals I set out of them. This week I had to do the same thing. I am pretty sure I would be a fantastic travel, party, or convention planner. I am working on a masters of business right now so that might not be a lost dream. Lesson plans are rearranged and new lessons are thought up and its like a perfect puzzle to figure it out. Our snow day this week helped too as it pushed a quiz to today that made my absence much easier. God and the polar vortex helped out with that planning. Yet again, Cancer is inconvenient.
I talked with one of my favorite MC professors this week as well (again the benefits of going to college in your home town). Of course I also have to add that I have many favorite professors from MC. As we were talking about our lives he asked me what word I would use to describe my experience so far. That word was disruptive, which is what I have used before in my blog. He shared with me an experience of his and used the word inconvenient to describe it. I think that is a great word. Inconvenient. (You don’t know this but I have misspelled inconvenient each time I have typed it in this blog post. I am a terible speler.) When you hear Inconvenient, you immediately have that inner groan of disappointment. And that’s how I want to describe my cancer now. I remember the day I got the call from MEA with the news that my lymph nodes were enlarged. My doctor said this, “I saw lymph nodes.” He didn’t have to be specific. Remember my father went through all this, I knew what seeing lymph nodes means. I cried. It wasn’t a cry because I was going to die. It was crying from the inconvenience. I knew there would be waiting and treatment and pain and waiting and treatment and so on. I wanted everything to go smoothly and without a hitch. That’s not life though is it. That’s not cancer. But how boring would that make life? It is the spur of the moment changes and ebb and flows that make life worth living.
Chemo III happened today. Not many patients in the waiting room either. Blood work came back amazing. My numbers were literally mountains compared to last week. I was prepped and got my heavy dose of number killers. And then came that last med. The DTIC, which is a drip that takes about an hour to take. Let me tell you guys, watching a drip is like watching water boil. It never seemed to go down and every time a nurse came in to check it, they always seemed disappointed with the progress. And of course I could hear the whistling from Andy Griffith in the main room. It was just taking forever and the Benadryl was working its magic pretty good. You can’t help but look at a drip and think patience. I know other Cancer patients who have drips that take days to get out. Thats incredible. Talk about watching water boil. I am humbled by this information. The port intake drives me crazy for the few hours that it is in me. I can’t imagine multiple days. Plus that machine beeps a lot and I am not a fan of beeping. I think it was from watching the drip and thinking about inconvenience and waiting that God spoke.
The Jewish people were watching the drip. They were waiting. Where was the Messiah? The prophet Isaiah spoke of His coming. And then it happened. He came. And you know what, it was inconvenient and it was disruptive. It was disruptive, because Christ was not what was expected. He was not some war driven king that took the nations by force, but a king who went to war for the hearts of people. He was inconvenient. He messed up schedules. He messed up expectations. He commanded that we do things like give up our desires and seek His kingdoms. How inconvenient. I have to remember that Christ allows me to go through inconveniences for His glory. I have very little patience, but I am learning to be a patient. I have so much that needs work and it takes something disruptive to make that happen. It takes Christ.
Come, Thou long expected Jesus
Born to set Thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart. – Charles Wesley
A few things that have come from me having to wait a week to get this chemo treatment:
1. I got to record my last show for TV Talk Parenthood until Feb. 27 with lots of energy with my new good friend and cohost Axel.
2. I got to spend an amazing weekend at Lake Bruin with my sister, brother, and wife playing cards, freezing on the dock, eating onion rings, and finally introducing Carly and Griffin to the 1980s Ronn Lucas TV special
3. I got to be at the Mu Alpha Theta induction ceremony and eat lots of cake.
4. I got to destroy another half rack of ribs from Sombra with my in-laws.
5. I got to have Polynesian sauce on the way to chemo two weeks in a row.
6. But the biggest thing of all is that because my schedule was so messed up, I got to rearrange a test that is supposed to be tomorrow. Instead I get the absolute privilege to teach my favorite lesson all year tomorrow. It is not really in the curriculum, but it combines two of my absolute favorite things: Disney and Math. Tomorrow I will give a lesson on how ratio and proportions are used in theme park design. You guess it. I am talking about forced perspective tomorrow. Minds will be blown. And because I am losing hair, I will have ears on.
Inconvenience. How are you interpreting it? Are you groaning or are you asking, “what do you have for me instead?”
(for the record, I continued to misspell inconvenience throughout the entire writing of this post)