Sunday, February 1, 2015

Riding the Cancer Roller Coaster with God on my side

As a cancer patient myself since 2011 I have had the typical cancer treatments, chemo, radiation, surgery, more chemo and radiation, adverse reactions to chemo meds, adverse reactions from surgical wash and glue, popped stitches, biopsies, pain management, horrible blistering, incapacitating nausea, abdominal and intestinal cramping, hair loss, blinding fatigue, pain, all the fun issues associated with cancer treatments.  But through it all God's grace carried me through it, I have NO doubt.

Cancer is a roller coaster, like life it has it's ups and downs, it's good days and bad, but when you are the patient who is on this ride, the ups and downs are far more extreme than regular life ups and downs.  A cancer patient straps in, buckles up, holds on tight and even some scream on this ride, it is scary as heck, there are dark tunnels and curves and hills and if you are lucky you have a big crowd cheering you on.  Most say a prayer waiting to shoot out of the gate, some pray the whole way through the ride, and most are so relieved when it is over and they are still alive they can barely walk away from the coaster.  Those of us who are like me, metastatic feel like this ride lasts forever, because it is.

  I can never get off the cancer coaster because I can never be cured, I will never again be declared "cancer free" unless it is by miracle and our detection machinery has become more advanced and accurate, but for now I cannot.  I have to change my "normal".  Luckily I am in remission for the 2nd time, but the 1st being stage 4 metastatic.  What that means in my case is that I am living with a deadly disease, although my counts are low and in some cases so low it counts as non-existent.  The best comparison my doctors like to give is that of a diabetic who has complications.  They can live for a long time with their disease, as long as they take necessary precautions, medication, are closely monitored by their medical team and take their condition seriously.  Same thing here for me.  However, I have a couple other things up my sleeve that allow me to stand out from the norm.  I am a Christian, I have faith that God will see me through this, and that I can be used to bring help to others and glory to Him.  I am good at being obstinate and stubborn, dare I say "Brat"  ok I really want to say the other word, but I'm trying to reduce my swearing.  Cancer is a brat, no way around it, cancer treatment is no picnic, no way around it, I am really good at being a brat, no way around it in this case.  I'm a tough cookie, a fighter and I have taken that trait and focus it on the battle in my body with this cancer.  I will not be defeated, I have children to live for, and I will play dirty with the cancer if I have to, this is serious war and I'm not here to play around. 

I have relied on my faith, bible verses, and counseling while on this roller coaster.  There have been times where I asked God to hold my hand as I squeeze my eyes shut and hang on tight while the world goes upside down for a minute.  I have cried begging that He not make me go through this anymore, I want the ride to stop and let me get off.  I have also glowed in pride that I made it through with God beside me even though I was scared to death and never want to go on the ride again, I made it through without peeing in my pants from fear! 

The cancer coaster can seem very isolating, like you are the only passenger in the car.  But you aren't, there are plenty, too many people who are going through a similar if not same roller coaster as you, and that offers some comfort.  There is also the fact that you aren't alone because you have Jesus, and this offers comfort as well, but as much as you "know" these things in your head, it's normal to still feel this way in your heart at times because it is happening to YOU in YOUR BODY and there is no way around that.  Cancer affects everyone around you in your inner circle, whether you want it to or not, some ride the coaster with you, others are cheering for you in the crowd, and some may even be waiting for you while they wait in line to go on another ride. 

There were plenty of times where I visualized myself curled up in God's hands or with an angel completely surrounding me with big beautiful white wings protecting me.  I even got a tattoo of angel wings on my left shoulder, not to symbolize my angel wings but to remind me that I have an angel who has my back.  I also have a cross with a pink breast cancer ribbon entwined to remind me I am covered in faith and with God all things are possible.  Sure I still get scared, and stressed that my cancer might return, or that I could take a turn for the worse, but deep in my heart I know I am carried by grace, and God won't let me down, He is carrying me whether I can see or feel Him doing it.