The following text gives me comfort as I go through my treatment regimens for my fourth recurrence of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It’s difficult for me to realize that this is the fifth time I have been told I had to deal with this cancer again. I pray you can see how these verses give me peace in my soul. I have underlined the two sentences that help me understand that it’s not about me—there is a master plan that I am a part of.
Acts 17: New International Version (NIV)
Verse 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’
As the day approached that I would have my first radiation treatment I felt anxious because of both the known and the unknown. I was excited to get things started after such a lengthy period of time passing by with tests and seemingly never-ending doctor’s appointments. I also didn’t know what to expect as I entered into an unknown process they called radiation. Cancer, for the fifth time in seventeen years, has invaded my life and taken control of everything.
When I was placed on the table that I would lay on during the radiation procedure I had no idea what to expect from that massive machine that surrounded me. The placement of my body was directed by the little dots they had placed on my body during the simulation process the week before.
With a huge circular shaped part of the machine on top of me the technicians left the room and started the machine. Next, I heard the machine start and in my peripheral vision I noticed two massive panels that were mounted on arms coming towards me on both my left and right sides. They moved closer and closer.
The next thing that happened was the machine began to circle me as I wondered what in the world was going on. It turned to the right around my body then to the left. There was a slight movement of the table when the technician fine tuned my placement in the machine.
Everything was in place and I heard this mild sounding bang followed by a humming sound as the machine began to go around me again. In just a few minutes it was over and the technicians came back into the room to help me dismount the table I had been laying on for the entire process.
As I continued to show up at the appointed times for my treatments (every day except the weekends and holidays) I got more comfortable with the process. Then I could observe things the machine did to aim the beams inside my body and target the tumor they were out to kill with the X-Rays.
I wasn’t concerned with the Rituxan treatments I was going to have while I was undergoing radiation treatments. I had received many of them over the years without any problems. This time around it went the same way. Merely an IV placed in my arm and I was hooked up to the machine that paced the medicine going into my body. The days are just long as it takes time to administer my dose for the day.
On Friday, 12/28/2012, I completed my 12th radiation treatment out of 25 that are planned. On Thursday, 12/27/2012, I completed my 3rd Rituxan treatment out of 6 that are planned. It feels good to be around the half-way point. I have a calendar that I mark off the days when I get home from each appointment.
After my first radiation treatment I was pleasantly surprised that the pain I had been dealing with went away. My oncology nurse told me that would probably work that way. I haven’t had a problem with pain at all since that first treatment on 12/12/2012. Now I am merely aware of my body and every little thing that goes on in the area of the treatments. I just think of them as the treatments doing their work and I am blessed to have the opportunity to get well.
Then only real side effect I am experiencing on a regular basis is fatigue after the radiation treatments. I am told this is normal and it will build up during the process then subside two or three weeks after my last treatment. It requires me to take routine rest breaks and sometimes I end up back in bed for an hour or two of sleep. Let me tell you that fatigue works on my mind and makes me wonder if I can keep up with all of this. That’s why I focus on the fact that God is in control of everything about my life.
There are also times when I get overcome by nausea, but that is also part of the radiation treatments. Thank goodness they have come and gone and are not something I have to deal with every day.
As I mentioned the radiation treatments are every day early in the morning. We scheduled them that way so my beautiful bride could take me for the short treatments then drop me at home on her way to work. On Thursdays she drops me off at the cancer center so I can get my Rituxan treatments. We adjusted our schedule so we are getting up earlier than normal, but we are also able to get to bed earlier to compensate for the early schedule. I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to go to sleep earlier but it hasn’t been a problem.