Wednesday, May 16, is my third chemotherapy day. The last cycle was fraught with interesting side effects the first 10 days and a resurgence of familiar cancer symptoms added to the mix for the last 10 days. I’ve been very aware of the cancer and the chemo; there hasn’t really been a great day, but at the same time there hasn’t been an awful one either. I’ve heard that the experience is cumulative and that side effects can be a bit more intense with each new treatment. From my experience with just two treatments, I’d say that’s true.
Yes, it’s been interesting. I’ve been able to be at school every day, which is incredibly affirming for me because students are so honest. They tell me that they are praying for me, and some leave me notes (a few anonymously). Then they move on with their lives, which is wonderful actually, because it reminds me not to wallow in my own situation.
In the last three weeks, I’ve seen more people too, and I’m often asked, “What can I do? Of course, we are praying for you, but what else can I do.” So what do I need?
Honestly, what I need is the same thing we all need—prayer. Prayer gets me up in the morning. Prayer allows me to make it through each day, to stay focused on my students and the lesson plan. Prayer helps the side effects and symptoms not overwhelm my life. Prayer focuses my energy on the next right thing to do, and often that means I go to bed early or simply rest. Prayer keeps worry, stress, and fear away. Prayer makes breathing possible when I am struggling to pull air into my lungs. I have never been more conscious of the fruitfulness and the power of prayer than I have since February 17.
I haven’t been able to answer notes and emails, to respond to the many who have provided meals and flowers and treasures, or to move beyond the moment. I don’t know who is praying for me, but I feel every utterance in the fact that I can face each moment as it comes. Every second of my life right now is a testimony of the power of prayer. My greatest needs—even the ones I do not realize I have—are met through the prayers of those whom God has called to pray for me.
I have been humbled by this in ways I cannot express. If you see me and wonder how I am handling things, know that your prayers are the reason you see me at all. On my own, I’d be unable to leave my bed.
As I approach the end of a school year and a summer filled with three more treatments, I know that I will miss seeing people, so feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want. There may be times when it would be nice to sit and chat and not have to think about things.
Oh, I thought perhaps someone might enjoy this picture taken this week. Six of my colleagues buzzed their heads to join me in my new hair style. The least I could do, I decided, was to remove my ever-present scarf and show my completely bald head too. Even buzzed, all of these guys have more hair that I do, but they do not have any stylish scarves or at least so far they haven’t worn one.
I am so grateful for prayers, and I freely acknowledge that this is absolutely what I need.
May the Lord continue to hold us tightly in His hands as we trust Him in all things.