Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The “ABC’s” of 2017 #4 (Q-U)

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This post continues our “end of the year” newsletter. God has taken me back to school to learn the basics, the ABC’s of life, faith, and work for the kingdom in this world. Here I focus on some more of the “adventures” that having lymphoma brought into my life and how God has worked to encourage, teach, and rebuke me through them. The picture above was a “selfie” taken in August at my parents’ house. The pictures below were taken in March when I had a rash reaction to a medication and in May during the ultrasound procedure that pronounced my urinary tract to be unobstructed.

Q: Questions and Questioning: When one gets a diagnosis of cancer many questions come to mind. What did I do that caused this? (probably nothing) Why me? (Why not me?) Why did God do this to me? (He probably didn't do it) Why did God allow this to happen? (Don't know, no one knows, Job didn't know, only God knows) Am I going to die? (Maybe, but we all have to die). I'd like to say it took a long time to work through these questions, but it is still an ongoing process. These questions still run through my head even though I know there is no definitive answer. The important question is "How am I going to respond to this new reality in my life?" and an even more important question, "Will God stay with me and minister to me in this situation?" The answer to the 2nd question is unequivocally YES! God has taught me things and ministered to me in ways that I never thought possible. I think that facing death in the presence of God has better equipped me to face life. The answer to the 1st question is ongoing. I have to answer that one every future day that God lets me live. God is good even when you go through cancer.

20170323_134036 (768x1024)R: Rashes: Rashes have been both the 2nd most annoying side effect of my lymphoma (edema swelling is by far #1) and the symptom that originally alerted the doctors to my condition. It was a biopsy of the rash on my legs that confirmed the diagnosis of T-Cell Lymphoma and jump-started my treatment process. This may have been a major factor in saving my life. So when I get the very itchy rash in the middle of the night I try to console myself with that. I am also thankful for Atarax, which not only relieves the itching of the rash, but reduces any anxiety I am feeling and helps me sleep. Isn't it funny how something can be "good" and "bad" at the same time?

S: Sickness and Suffering: What has the sickness and suffering that has characterized my life in 2017 done for me? One big thing is that it has turned me into more of a person of prayer. I have always been very disciplined in my devotional life when it comes to Bible study and meditation, but have always struggled with a regular prayer life, especially one that is devoted to intercessory prayer. Being forced to be "inactive" and suffering myself has very much changed my perspective on that. 2017 has been a year of prayer for me. God has opened my eyes to the pressing need for intercessory prayer, especially for the sick. Never in my life have I prayed for people the way God pushed me into prayer this year. Never in my life have I had God minister to me in such a direct way as He has when I have been in prayer before Him, just using the Lord's prayer as an outline and then allowing the Spirit to lead as I pray. As I get healthier I don't want to forget this experience and lose this lesson. The need is always there even when we don't feel it.

T: Tired: With cancer you are tired all the time. Fatigue is a side effect of all the different chemotherapies. For most of the first half of the year after diagnosis I was going to bed around 9PM and waking up at about 9 the next morning. I have now pretty much settled into a 10PM bedtime and I wake up between 8 and 9 in the morning. My doctors have told me that it usually takes a year or two after transplant to return to a normal energy level. The loss of strength was also kind of embarrassing. I used to be the one that opened the lids of jars for Joyce, but now I sometimes needed her help to unscrew the lids of my water bottles. That was a bit of a humbling experience. So now 2018 looks to be a year of rebuilding and strengthening. I would appreciate your prayers that I stay cancer-free and that my body continues to recover from the chemotherapy, surgeries and treatments. I am hoping to get off the bench and into ministry/service again. I don't know what that will look like for me, but I am looking forward to it.

20170526_101201 (1280x960)U: Ultrasound: I thought ultrasound was only for checking on pre-born babies, but I am not pregnant and have had 3 or 4 ultrasounds (not sure how many I had when I was in ER with my kidney issues) in 2017. Mainly they have been used for diagnosing my kidney problem and guiding the treatment. I enjoyed getting to see my entire urinary system on the computer screen a couple times. I was especially happy when the May ultrasound showed that it was working properly. Ultrasound was also used to look at my edema to make sure it was not causing other health issues. The edema will be the next focus of treatment starting in March, assuming a clear PET scan before then. It is possible that, because of some permanent damage to some of my lymph nodes, the edema will be chronic and will need to be "managed" long term. I'd appreciate your prayers for that too. I am OK with God healing it completely, but it may be my "limp" that God gives for His glory. Either way it is in His hands.

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