Focusing On the Task At Hand

Early in my life as a cancer survivor my oncologist always reminded me not to become frustrated because it wasn’t at all useful. In fact I have learned it burns much-needed energy that I am in short supply of.

In the last two weeks I have had two other medical professionals tell me some things to encourage me. One was the nurse practitioner that is cares for me in Dr. Reyes’ office. Her words helped me look forward in my treatment regimen and in my life. Simply put, when she worked in the BMT she frequently told her patients that they have just fought a battle to save their life and it was time get back out there and live it to the fullest. Perhaps the most encouraging words were from Dr. Reyes when he told me that my body had responded very well to the treatments I had just finished.

Building off of what Dr. Kashyap told me years ago about frustration the other two people also impressed upon my mind how blessed I am to be a long-term cancer survivor and that I have hope. They also helped me focus on the target in front of me.

My belief is that my medical team does everything they know how to do for me then ultimately God has total control of the outcome. I can guarantee you that I can’t do anything except obey my medical team’s instructions to the best of my ability. And I have experienced good outcomes and outcomes that didn’t exactly meet my expectations.

These mountain tops and deep valleys help me focus on God and my personal relationship with him. I pray continuously that my journey as a long-term cancer patient is bringing honor to him and helping other people along the way. Recently a family member got me a special gift that helps remind me of the way I am to humbly walk down my journey through life. It’s a little bear called Noah (Thank you Jayme!). Noah Prayer BearWhen I press on his left paw Noah plays a recorded message that says:

Someone once asked me if I pray because it makes senses, and I said, “No, I don’t pray because it makes sense. I pray because my life doesn’t make sense without prayer. I pray to raise myself up and to keep going when I can’t even seem to get going. In the middle of life’s struggles there inevitably comes a time, in each of our lives, when we collapse on the trail or in an office or even stuck in traffic, and prayer, I have found, is a path when there is none. Tears falling long enough can scar rocks, but tears falling on our cheeks can also cause us to bloom, and the wind in your face, just might be God blowing you kisses. Your life is a gift; prayer is a thank you note. So put your faith and not your fears in charge, and may you never forget that God is never so with you as when you feel alone. Peace and blessings – Noah.

This morning with breakfast I took a dose of dexamethasone along with my routine pills then got into our SUV so my wife could take me to the cancer center and drop me off. Shortly thereafter, I was checked in and given my first treatment of Rituxan for this cycle of treatments. At bedtime tonight I will start my first dose of Revlimid.

During the next month this cycle will play out three different times before I get approximately one week off from treatments before starting them over again. This plan is all dependent on the results of weekly blood tests that are taken the day I start the Rituxan treatments. Our current plan is to do approximately three cycles then get new PET-CT scans to see how well this treatment regimen is working.

I struggled with taking this new chemotherapy drug because it scared me to death to throw another medication into the mix that I already take everyday. Then God impressed on my mind the story about Jerico and how Joshua followed his instructions which resulted in the walls simply falling down. The battle was God’s not Joshua’s nor the people he led.

That story was front and center in my mind for some time before I reached the time to toss that new Revlimid pill into my mouth and swallow it. The cancer that has invaded my body is totally under the control of God and no one else can make anything happen that’s not in his plan. I prayed that I would keep faith as this new chapter played out in my life.

One other thing that I seem to struggle with these days is keeping my thoughts journaled. Perhaps that is why I keep going back to the lesson I learned many years ago. In Exodus it says, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered….” Much of the writing I do is to honor this commandment that God gave to Moses centuries ago. Writing things helps me process them, records them for my review, and also records them for the benefit of other people.

I also realized today is the last day of the month which means I have been retired one-month now. Honestly I have experienced feelings of loss and missing the people and the things I used to do. But, after realizing why I retired, I have continued to think about the benefits being retired will be for my health and overall wellbeing.

All in all I am doing great except for managing fatigue from the radiation treatments I finished in January, which ended up being much worse than I thought they would be; a lot of bad days and a few good days. It made me feel better when the nurse that administered my Rituxan treatment told me that radiation normally does this. And the my Radiation Oncologist told me I had a pretty heavy total dose of radiation (45 gray Symbolized as ‘Gy’) after 25 treatments.

I have had to make some adjustments to my expectations and realize this is not all that different than what I experienced early in my cancer journey. My goal now is to accomplish a few little tasks during the week so I can see that I am doing something other than sitting around. I have to continually choose to see my glass as more than half full rather than thinking it is only half full. Yes, I have to practice making attitude adjustments on a frequent basis!

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