We all are pretty familiar with the fact that chemotherapy wreaks havoc on the physical body. The chemicals are effective in attacking the cancer cells, with the purpose of shrinking them and ultimately killing them. Chemotherapy targets cells that grow and divide quickly, like cancer cells, however it cannot tell the difference between a cancer cell and other fast growing cells such as those of the skin, hair, intestines and bone marrow (red blood cells producer). Thus it attacks them also and the side effects, as I have so willingly shared, can be quite brutal. The physical body shares in the benefits of the drugs along with the misfortunes of poisonous chemicals being pumped through your veins.
The mind is a powerful tool that can get you through the worst of scenarios. One of the most beneficial things you can do throughout the process of treatments is to maintain a positive attitude and outlook. I strive daily to focus on the benefits while fighting through the hardships. It has not been easy and I will not for one moment pretend that is has been. The first four treatments were a shock to my physical body, but the fifth treatment brought some struggles with it that I wasn’t quite prepared for. My physical body has been pushed to limits I would have never imagined that any human should have to endure. The sore mouth, the ridiculous weight loss each time, the achy joints, the loss of appetite, the inability to eat even if I am hungry, the incessive stomach cramps and diarrhea, the skin rash, the hair loss, the eyeballs burning like you are pouring fire and gasoline in them, the loud and random ringing in my ears, my feet and legs swelling up like tree trunks, neuropathy in my fingertips and the skin under my fingernails and toenails dying, muscle spasms from Hades. I’m sure I have left some things out, but the one that has annoyed me the most, that one side effect that I have wrestled with more so than any of the others…the fatigue, that chronic fatigue, that shut-your-body-down-where-even-sleeping-wears-you-out fatigue. When your body is beyond tired and you can do absolutely nothing, there comes a point that the fatigue begins to play on your mindset. You go from being supermom who takes care of everyone and everything to the mom who barely has the strength to take care of herself much less anyone or anything else. From the momsy who is fun and adventurous to the momsy who can’t even walk outside to watch you do your tricks on the trampoline. From the friend who is always there doing for others to the friend who needs others to do for her. From being the girl who tried the hardest climbing route just to challenge herself to being the girl that can barely climb in and out of bed. From being the ambitious, adventurous soul who has to lag behind and wait while everyone else completes hikes that you just can’t handle. During those moments when I am lying in bed day after day, I am too exhausted to get up and too exhausted to sleep and all I can do is think, my mind becomes very vulnerable. Darkness wraps itself around me and my thoughts become clouded with all the things I cannot do…
I hear my grand babies outside playing and I can’t even muster up enough strength to get up to hug them.
I can’t even remember the last time I cooked a good meal for my children. (let me insert that I am so very thankful for the friends who participate in the meal train and have cooked for us!)
It’s Friday and I normally drive over to see my sweet boyfriend but I can’t even drive 5 minutes from work to home without needing a two hour nap.
My friends are going hiking and I can’t even walk to the bathroom without feeling like I am dying.
I try to participate in outings and be my sunshiny self, but inside I am dying because at any given moment I feel like I am going to pass flat out.
I want to go eat with my friends but I am afraid I will have an ungodly crap attack before I make it out of the restaurant so I just stay home…again.
My son has a baseball game but I have to sit at the car and watch him because if I walk into the stadium, I won’t have the energy to walk back out and drive home.
My dog wants to play tug of war but I can’t even hold the rope because my arms are too tired.
I long for the company and fellowship with friends but I’m so tired I don’t even feel like carrying on a conversation.
So many things I want to do, but can’t. Little things that mean a lot to me.
So I lay there exhausted. I feel weak. I feel useless. I feel worthless. I feel insignificant. I feel ugly. I feel stupid. I feel lonely. I feel lost. I feel disconnected. My fears, those ones I don’t dare speak out loud, overtake me. I cry. I just want to be held. I need someone else to be strong for me, just for a little while. I just want to feel like myself again. I feel ashamed. The darkness overwhelms me. I don’t want anyone to know. I am so tired. I pray. I quote scripture. I speak positive. I turn on praise and worship music. I pull myself together. I close my eyes. I tell myself that tomorrow is another day and I fall asleep.
I wake up, exhausted, yet determined to face the day.
I pray, I focus, and although I am struggling with the lingering darkness, I remind myself of all of the things that I have been able to continue doing despite the fact that I am fighting a vicious fire breathing dragon that is healing my body while at the same time breaking me down and wreaking havoc upon me (don’t you just love the dramatics??)…
Every three weeks for 6+ hours I have gotten to enjoy time with one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world. It may possibly be against the law at how much we have laughed and cried and carried on while I’m sitting in a chair getting poison pumped through my veins (more dramatics!)
I have been able to go watch my grand babies play t-ball.
I’ve been able to go to all of my son’s baseball games (except last week when I was out of town), even if I do have to cheer him on from the car. And he scored two home runs in the last game!
I’ve continued to work full-time through this process and have only missed two full days of work.
I’ve traveled twice for work related training’s, and it rocks when your training is in sunny Orlando Florida! (AND I got to spend precious time with a dear long distance friend and her family! Woot woot!)
I got to see the sunrise over the ocean’s horizon! Breathtaking!
I’ve spent precious time with my children and enjoyed their company and help.
I have only missed 3 full weekends in the woods out of 16 (and some of those were just rainy days) . The odds are in my favor!
I’ve hiked 23 times since my first treatment, including 7 off trail gorge hikes: Dellinger Falls, Piano Rock, Crevasse Point up Pinchin (what the heck fire was I thinking??), Ziggarut (not to mention I led the first known ascent and stood on top!), Bug Out Point – twice, the Linville Crag area and the Castle and Cracker Jack Point. I’ve rock climbed 4 times. Seen 9 different waterfalls and went kayaking with my son. Thank you Lord for your grace to continue to do the things that feed my soul!
I got to see the most beautiful sanctuary I have ever laid eyes on! Quiet Reflections Retreat near Burnsville, NC is a must to go see.
I’ve enjoyed special times with family and friends on random occasions and planned occasions.
I’ve been held by the strongest of arms and wrapped up in peace and comfort. Thank you David!
My doggy has snuggled with me during those moments that I needed him most.
I have the best Tribe ever. They are always willing accommodate me and structure hikes to my level.
I’ve met so many people that have struggled with cancer and have been inspired by their stories and friendship.
I’ve had the privilege of praying with strangers in grocery stores.
I’ve made new friends that have already become very dear to me.
I’ve been touched by so much kindness that my heart overflows.
I’ve had so many ‘God moments’ where His presence has just been incredible.
I’ve been showered with so much love, support, prayers, encouragement, and thoughtfulness sent my way daily!
I’ve been blessed beyond measure!
So, although I fight the darkness at times when exhaustion overtakes me, I wake up each morning reminding myself that it’s a new day, with new mercies, sufficient grace and strength for the day. I encourage myself that this too shall pass and one day soon I will be much better than I am at this moment.
Slay the dragon. Seize the day. Conquer the darkness. Be the light!
May 6, 2019
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and God. Psalm 42:5 The Living Translation