Monday, December 31, 2012, was the day I received radiation treatment #13 out of a scheduled number of 25. Before that, for some reason, I hadn’t been able to taste things as normally expected. I also noticed that my mouth had been somewhat dry, like it feels in the morning before I brush my teeth (some people might call it a cotton mouth).
Over a couple of days the dry mouth seemed to be different, some days annoying and others really pesky. I didn’t think much of it because I know my body is going through major changes as the battle rages to stop the tumor growth and to get me back into remission. My goal was to keep my mind occupied and not think about this situation.
Along with that I seemed to have a burning sensation that ran from way down deep in my gut up through my throat. It was like I had drunk something real hot that had burned all the way down. This matter was a lot more difficult to ignore and I kept dwelling on the thought, “What’s up with this?”.
As that phenomenon progressed I kept wondering why this sensation was so familiar to me and then all of a sudden I remembered the days when I had been given the harsh chemotherapy drugs. Now this very familiar sensation, which I had endured for weeks and months on end as the different chemotherapy regimens had played out, made sense.
I sure hoped I wasn’t in for something I hadn’t expected with the current radiation and Rituxan treatment regimens. From past experiences I knew the Rituxan wasn’t causing this, and the area on my body that was being radiated wasn’t supposed to cause this type of problem. Now my mind was being occupied with a problem that wasn’t a good thing; it was worrying and that is not good for anyone.
The good thing was the dry mouth only lasted a few days and the burning sensation stopped overnight. I was convinced that something I ate didn’t agree with my stomach causing that problem and the dry only lasted for a couple of days. But during this time I did some serious thinking about the way things were playing out.
During the timeframe between having my tests run last summer (June, 2012) and seeing the doctor to get the results I had a still small voice down deep in my soul whisper to me that this time the tests were not going to be what I expected. This time I wouldn’t get good news. I have had this happen before over the years and it gives me the chills while at the same time gives me a peace of mind. To be entirely honest I get irritable during these times and nearly go crazy wondering what’s happening. But this time it didn’t seem to be that way.
When the dry mouth and burning sensation started to work on my mind I was also uneasy about the ongoing costs associated with all of the testing and subsequent treatment regimens. A New Year was about to dawn and I was unsure why I should continue the battle for my life. This time I didn’t experience a still small voice down in my soul whisper to me. Rather I had the facts that I had learned over the years come to the forefront of my mind.
Over and over again I kept meditating on two facts that I had learned from scripture and that I took very seriously. The first one says: “For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:15). And the second one says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 and in my bible I even have the word “discouraged” underlined with an arrow pointing to the words I wrote there that says, “focus on God’s power and not mine.”
I have always known that my life is not my own and I cannot do anything to change the outcome except to pray for God’s will and his grace and his mercy which I have experienced many times over. Yes, I also believe that God gives me things along my life’s journey because I have merely asked him for them. I pray in faith earnestly believing that if it’s God’s will he will answer my prayer and bless me in a special way. Let me give a testimony to the fact that I have seen answers to my prayers over and over again that are not at all related to my cancer story. And some answers to my prayers that are related to my cancer story.
As 2013 dawned I was in bed asleep with my wife and got up on New Years day just like it was any other day. During that day the struggle in my mind was given over to God as I choose to hold onto the promises he had given me for my life; in this case for the cancer treatment regimens I was in the midst of. Wednesdays radiation treatment went well and the Rituxan treatment went well with the exception of my patience being tested when it took the pharmacy at the cancer center two hours to get the Rituxan to my nurse. All in all it was a wonderful day.
The telephone rang and my beautiful bride got it and was told that my tumor had shrunk and they needed me to stay after my Friday radiation treatment to have a CT scan run so they could make adjustments to my treatment regimen. After the scan was completed I was told they were merely going to redirect the radiation at the new size of the tumor and I would get the same dose and simply complete my scheduled number of treatments. Simple as that!
I wonder if my faith was being tested here? What if I had kept fighting that battle for myself instead of yielding to the words God gave me. As of today I only have eight radiation treatments left.