It took 13 days, 13 days from Nov. 12 – Nov. 25, to get through the gutwrentching, battle of the first Chemo Infusion.
It took 13 days, 13 days from Nov. 12 – Nov. 25, to get through the gutwrentching, battle of the first Chemo Infusion.
Throughout my life, the one constant that made me feel alive, vibrant, confident, self assured, even at time beautiful, was my hair. Getting my hair pressed, getting my hair permed, colored, styled, coiffed. It all brought so much excitement, anticipation of appointment, and ecstasy to me.
I have never worn my hair close to my scalp, nor have I ever wanted to wear shortened hair, though on occasions there was no alternative but to cut some off after medication had damaged and caused breakage beyond concealment. It was never my desire, even when I became frustrated in those times where I could not keep up regular maintenance, through beauty appointments, and it was left to me to “make something work”, only then I glazed over the thought , “if I had a bald head, this would not be a problem. Then I would come to myself, and ask; “what nonsense are you thinking?, Snap out of it!” Easily I could dispel that idiotic notion.
Yesterday, my worse nightmare came to reality, much earlier than my timeline predicted, my head itched at the nape of my neck, instinctively, I scratched it, and as I retrieved my hand, a thick, long clump moved from my scalp. I reached up to grab it and, “oh, no, no, no”; “it’s not time yet!. Jesus, no, I’m not ready, I spoke aloud, as tears just rolled. I find that tears have their own will these days, and I am left to let them fall at a whim.
God had already prepared for this sudden turn of events when I would be home alone, and my hair would suddenly release its grip on my scalp. I had been preparing for the moment when I had to set my hair free, hair and I have been together for 61 years, since My Momma said I was bald for a year, from birth, and was the only hairless child she had. She and my Grandma used to say, “it took so long for me to get hair, and I ended up with the longest and best hair of all”. I always liked that. I was the best at something.
Of course, it was the bane of everyone else’s existence, bringing so much jealousy upon me from my sister, Joyce, and my cousins, and they were never shy about how much they resented me because of my hair. Laughable.
A few months ago, a barbershop/salon opened part-time right up at the Dominos, within walking distance to my house. Over the weekend, I noticed there was a sign to advertise on the building, just on Sunday, I saw this. He is only in after he leaves his regular job, so timing is everything to get service. Xquisite Barber and Beauty Salon, I thanked God right then, because I knew I might need that shop when the time came.
Tuesday, the time came, and I prayed he would be there and I could get him to cut off my sifting, locks, so I would not have to try to do it myself, or wait till Alex(my son) returned home, later. God heard and answered, and the owner, Pierre Gardner, coincidentally, I know his family and have worked with many of them in previous employments.
I went in and tears were flowing, and he was so kind, patient, and understanding. He talked with me throughout the entire process, was so gentle, and the tears subsided. What a blessed experience, that someone who does not work with people losing their hair from chemo, treated me with so much compassion, as I said goodbye to my oldest friend and comfort, my hair was more than for looks, it made me feel covered, and confident in who I was. It kept my skinny neck hidden, and my narrow face framed. It was my crowning glory that God had blessed me with, and I loved that He gave it to me.
Now, I have lost all the parts of me that I felt made me, the “me” that no one else could be, or immolate, or envy. The breasts, the hair, the life giving organs, the swift, speed of a gazelle I loved having, my physical stamina. I still have the one thing, my mind, and the ability to think, reason, remember, learn, and understand. It is not because of age that I have had to let so many things go, that I could accept, just as I was learning to accept my hair had turned gray. Gray is not a good color on me, especially not on my head, and not to wear that same color everyday. My hair has always been in the details of who I knew myself to be. Not vain glory, or in any form or outside show, but as much a part of who I am as my narrow cheek line, or my exotic, deep brown eyes, or my “Naomi Campbell” lips( as they called them in John Casablanca’s Modeling School). At home, the family always called my lips; “Uncle Johnny Lips, because my Grandma’s brother had the same shaped mouth, and I so good to be identified with Uncle Johnny, he was awesome.
So, as predicted by the chemo documents, and Dr. Christiana Brenin, “you will lose your hair”, and so it came to pass, on Tues. Nov. 27, 2018, just a few days before my next battle with the chemo demons on Monday December 3, 2018. What fresh hell will Chemo Infusion cast upon me? I still have eyebrows. I noticed the hair on my body, arms, underarms, legs, little as it was is all gone, and those pesky hairs that I had to pluck from my chin, and the cheek area on my face, didn’t grow back since Chemo Infusion One, so that is huge blessing.
I am not sure that Chemo won’t take my last breath, but I know I want to be here, to live, to survive. I felt so horrible with the first infusion, it is hard to imagine coming through five more like that, and four more of half of the meds from the first session, that will be in the second session, then more after that. I know it is all in God’s hands, and I believe only in what He has for me. My church, Calvary Chapel Fluvanna, and my choral group, Voices of Faith are presenting our 5th Annual “O Come Let Us Adore Him”, Christmas Concert, on December 8, and 9, 2018 at 7pm, and I am praying that after Mondays’ Chemo Infusion, God will lift me up off my side effects, sickbed, pallet, and lower me into my seat among the rest of my fellow singers, so that I can coherently, spiritually, be present and do what singing I can with the voice He has graced me with. I pray God will bless us in this offering up to Him and that, as it could be my last, it will be like the prelude to the Glorious Choir I will sing in for Him in Eternity. Bless Us Lord, and Send All Whom You Desire to Be In Attendance, to the services next weekend, and please be merciful and let me be among them, in the choir, singing and praising your Name. Amen.
1 O God, You are my God; I shall seek you earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.
3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.
4 So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,
7 For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek my life to destroy it, Will go into the depths of the earth.
10 They will be delivered over to the power of the sword; They will be a prey for foxes.
11 But the king will rejoice in God’ Everyone who swears by Him will glory, For the mouths of those who speak lies will be stopped.
Thank you for your comforting words, Lord. I meditate on You both day and night, and I know Victory is in You.
There are no two days alike. Monday, I felt I was turning the corner from the sickness and pain, till evening, and all into the morning hours. Tuesday, I was wiped out. Wednesday, I was not so sick early in the day, but around 3pm, it all starts to go down, and into the early morning hours. Thursday, I was not feeling strong, and was under the weather all day. Then came Friday, I woke early, feeling excited about daylight, and was well all day long, all evening and into the night. Saturday, early in the dawn, came with a sharp, piercing pain in my head, it felt like a nerve that needed to be clamped. This lasted all day, regardless of the Tylenol intake, and this lasted all night.
Come Sunday morning, Jesus woke me around 3am, and we spent all morning together. I had no more headaches, and no other pains. Still dealing with pain in exit departments, and diarrhea still my constant companion, but other than that, I feel good today. Praise God!!! I got to go to church today!! First time since November 12th when I got the chemo. Hallelujah, Glory to God!.
I don’t know how I will feel from one day to the next, but I thank God for how I feel today. I still can feel a little vertigo, but a little vertigo is nothing, by comparison. I have one week to go before chemo infusion #2. I pray I can enjoy this week, I pray that I am able go practice this Tues. and Bible Study on Wed.
Next week, I am praying that I can make it through the week and be blessed to participate in our Fifth Annual “Come Let Us Adore Him” Christmas Concert, at my wonderful Calvary Chapel Fluvanna. Such wonderful people, so filled with God’s Holy Spirit. God has truly blessed me to be with the most awesome choral group, The Voices of Faith, who are spirit-filled prayer warriors all day, every day, such an absolute blessing to me through all I have endured. That’s God!
I attempted to post this on Sunday, but when I went to retrieve an image, I lost the post. I decided to wait a day to see if it would come back, and here it is. I only want to add that God is so awesome, today is Monday, and it was two Mondays ago that chemo took me down, and out of circulation. Each day was worse than the one before, and more horrible than I could imagine. No sugar coating on this blog. It sucked with a capital “S”. I have been sick, deathly ill many times, but, this is something spawned from all my previous aches, pains, near death experiences. I can not imagine what fresh hell on earth each new chemo class will teach me, and whether or not I am strong enough physically to endure, so I want to be present while I can. Today, I feel great, by weakness standards. I got out to church yesterday, then walked around outside a bit, and today, I took myself to handle my business that has been on hold since I got knocked down by chemo. Thank you God, for blessing me to be able to get up, and out, and handle business, and come back to write again. I have even laid out the formats to four of my book projects. I am on a roll. I have seven days before the next chemo infusion, and I want to make the most of it. Live life, as they say; “To the fullest of my capacity”.
It is finally here!! The day chemo is not in control.
Today is Thanksgiving Day! I am here, I am alive, I am turning the corner. I found myself wondering why I didn’t think twice about accepting the doctor’s orders that because I had HER2 positive I would concede to take the chemotherapy because my surgery went so well, and I was healed, and back on my healthy track? I could have just gone along and trusted that there would be no recurrence of the cancer in my body, I could have lived a normal life for the time it was out of my body, but, I wanted to be smart, and give myself the assurance of not coming back to this place again, one, two, five years after I get comfortable, and have to relive this cancer nightmare, that is why I chose to put myself through chemotherapy. Continue reading “Being Thankful In Little or Much”
Last Monday I went to my first chemo infusion, and I wanted to discuss the journey as it transpired. On Tues. I felt a little off all day, but around 3:40pm, things went on a course that was step by step what I was told in the materials the clinic handed me. On Monday, 4:38pm, a port was placed on my abdomen called Neurolast, you probably saw the commercials with a woman wearing it on her arm. I lay on my arms at night so I opted to use my stomach. The port is to help keep the white blood count in check. When the port is attached, if feels like the sharp sting of a rubber band pluck. The meds are dispensed 27 hours after chemo ends.
I want to thank my inspirational, faithful friend and choir member, Denny for volunteering to get me to my first infusion, today. He is such an awesome minister of God. One great and wonderful thing about Denny, is because of his prior military life, he is Always on time(that means early to the normal non military) that is something we have in common. Praise God for his patience too, because I was told I would be there for 1.5 hours, but that was just the time for one of the 4 treatments and the additional two preps that I had to be given. Treatments go slowly on the first day with wait times in between to check for adverse reactions. The two preps are steroids and Benadryl.
Friday was so much like when I started school as a young girl. I woke up anxious, and excited, and nervous about my day. Whenever I begin a new phase in life, I get that way, but now, minus the upset stomach and vomiting from my earlier years of “new beginnings”. I couldn’t wait to get on with the day. Knowing that I had mixed feelings that were weighing on me, not all of them positive, or happy. I was filled with tears, and some of them escaped my iron exterior, and then a wonderful thing happened, quite unexpected., as Alex and I arrived for the ECHO, *(echocardiogram), everything went very quickly, and we proceeded to the next appointment in Radiology. We were really early. The check in time was 11:30am, and we were there by 9:40am. We sat there for around 10 minutes, and my Alex, just made the time fly by with his humorous banter, and his wonderful calming conversation, he made me laugh, and I looked around, some of the other people were laughing as well. Then my name was called, and Alex had the mood so light and the atmosphere, so calming, it seemed that everyone was sending me good wishes as I went back for my prep. I was back in my area, for 5 hours, before the surgical procedure at 2:20pm, but the whole day was peaceful, and there was no stress, or frustration, within me. I felt like time just flowed, as I read my word, worked my word search puzzle and even took a nap. God had taken all my first day jitters away.
Knowing that tomorrow begins Phase 2 of my journey, my heart has been heavy all week, with dread, and foreboding. As God guides my steps through my appointment to get the port placement for what will be months of chemotherapy, and all that entails, it has been a ‘firing squad’, ‘cross carrying’ mentally overwhelming, slow tick tock, tick tock week, but this morning, God smoothed the wrinkles of my thoughts and reminded me that there is a blessing in this treatment. I understand this is necessary to kill any and all cancer cells that remain within us even when all focused cancer is removed. Just when you think it’s safe to go back into living.
So as I go through this next phase, I want to share with you what it is like to live through this hard challenge, because unless you are living through it, the picture is like “looking through a glass darkly”. I am walking in Psalm 139. Several verses bring peace and comfort to my soul, I live it. I am blessed by its sweet and wonderful words daily.
I am uplifted by God’s attention to me and how He continues to comfort and hold me, console me, love me, I have never known so much peace. In Thee O Lord, do I put my trust.
Leaning on a raindrop in the midst of a storm
My back feels strength and comfort of its arms
As we break from the clouds and fall aimlessly from the skies
there is no fear, and no danger seen in my eyes.
We amble towards the ground, oblivious to the wind’s force,
Steady on our intended course; I know you will land calmly
without the urgency that breaks apart in pieces which cannot be restored
or put back together.
I know I am safe, so I trust you to guide us, as we go through the turmult
that from a distance appear to embrace us.
One raindrop in the midst of a many adversaries, my calming, guiding, redeeming
protector, on which I will wholely lean in the midst of all my storms.
I wrote this poem during my healing process, because as I was freefalling in my own strength and my own reserve, I was totally covered in God’s mercy and grace, and it was His power that carried me through the storm. I looked at Job in his times of tribulation when he spoke in Job 12:23. He was feeling hurt, and yet not forsaken, not abandoned, so he rationalize for a while about his path and his continued faithfulness, his trust and belief in the God who had given him so much, he said of God; “He makes the nations great, then destroys them”; because he acknowledged God’s infinite power above all his own surroundings and circumstances. Knowing God on a much greater arena than just what was happening to him. Job 13:15 “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him”. He maintained his faith, in spite of how his world around was crushed, all that he had built was taken away including his own health. His wife, and his friends were not supporting and upholding and comforting, it did not turn him away from the God whom he loved and served. In my current struggle, I have been so blessed by God, with a strong support and prayer circle, and I know He is carrying me, filling me with hope, lifting me when I feel weak, comforting me with His peace. In Job 14:7-8 and Job 14:14 7) There is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again and its shoots will not fail 8) Though its roots grow old in the ground and its stump dies in dry soil 14) If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes.
Today’s post is connected to the content of yesterday’s post, I spent my God time (you know, the hours between 3am -6am, when God awakens you each day just to spend time) with my Saviour reminding me again how “He’s Got My Life in the palm of His Hand”.
Prov. 8:12-14 12. I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find, knowledge and discretion. 13. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate. 14. counsel is mine and sound wisdom, I am understanding, power is mine.