Friday, December 29, 2017

The “ABC’s” of 2017 #5 (V-Z)

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This post concludes 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 is some more reflection on the “adventures” that having lymphoma brought into my life and some more theological  thoughts prompted by them. The picture above was taken in July at the Me-One “family cancer camp” at Mission Springs in Scotts Valley. The picture below right is one of the chemicals infused in me in November and below left is from an encouraging September visit from our friends from Guam, the Vigils.

V: 20171013_095313 (768x1024)Vincristine: Vincristine was one of the drugs I received in my first round of chemotherapy. Before chemo I was given a paper describing what I should expect to happen to me. Here is what it said, "Common side effects of vincristine sulfate injection include nausea, vomiting, weight loss, diarrhea, bloating, stomach/abdominal pain or cramps, mouth sores, dizziness, headache, hair loss, constipation, loss of appetite, changes in sense of taste, and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet." These were pretty typical side effects of all 7 chemotherapy drugs I was privileged to experience. At some point I experienced the side effects that are in red in the quote above. Actually, I was quite blessed to have "mild" experiences of many of these side effects. The nurses commented that I was "lucky" to be able to handle chemo so well. I am thankful for that but hope that I do not have to go through the experience gain.

W: White Blood Cells: Never in my life have a I been so concerned about my white blood cells, and other blood counts, as I have been in 2017. It was a blood test that revealed that something was severely wrong with me a year ago and blood counts that were a major factor in determining my treatments, what I could and could not do and whether or not I had to be in the hospital throughout the year. While I was in Stanford hospital, Joyce and I waited each evening to hear what my blood counts that day were, because it indicated how I was recovering from the transplant and chemo. It is amazing to me how God has made the body to be so vulnerable and yet so resilient at the same time. A month ago I had no immune system and now it seems to be functioning properly. There are so many little things in the body that can go wrong, it could make us worry and fear constantly. But, just as God somehow holds the universe together, He also holds the mini-universe that is the human body together too.  Both of these "universes" will wear out someday, but we hold to the promise that both of them will be renewed to eternal life some day. 

X: X-rays: I have lost count of the X-Rays, PET scans, MRI's etc. that have looked inside my body this year. Sometimes they told a sad story that made me wonder if I would survive the year. Other times they delivered good news that gave me hope. Sometimes that hope was dashed by a subsequent scan. Waiting from scan to X-ray to scan could drive you crazy. What kept me from going crazy in this process was the promise that my future is really in God's hands and that is where I had to daily place it as I faced this (Psalm 31.5). I am now waiting for another scan in a couple months that will indicate that my body will remain cancer-free as well as that can be humanly determined. I am a little anxious, but continue to pray Jesus' prayer of faith in trial: “Into your hands I commit my spirit (life).” That is a prayer that applies in this life and beyond this life.

20170925_173848 (1024x768)Y: "YALEN": Okay, I confess that I couldn't think of a "Y" word for this post, so I decided to come up with an acronym to replace YOLO ("You only live once"). That one is such bad theology that I thought we needed a new one. So I came up with YALEN: "You are living eternally now." I am open to improvements on this acronym! :) This keeps the urgency of "seizing the day" contained in YOLO, but recognizes that we, as Christians, are acting today in the "already kingdom of God" to invest in the future "not-yet" kingdom of God. Everything we do as the imagers of God in this world today has an effect now that carries over into eternity. Every act done to serve God's people and God's mission today is an investment in our future participation in the new heaven and earth when they come together in the fully realized kingdom of God. This gives an urgency and deep meaning to everything we do today, tomorrow and so on. The smallest act done for God and others has eternal significance.  

Z: Zofran: I am very thankful for the drug Zofran. One of the reasons I did not experience so badly the nausea associated with chemotherapy was that Zofran, an anti-nausea drug, was given to me before every chemo session and I had an ample supply of Zofran pills for the aftermath. I was told not to deny myself at all, but to take a Zofran pill "every time you feel the least bit queasy." I did have some nausea and vomiting. Brushing teeth seemed to be the time when I got most nauseous. Missy told me that "now you know how pregnant women feel," so there is that experience I can cross off my "bucket list." Again, I see God's work in the advances made in medicine, especially cancer treatment, in the last few years. That creative image of God seen in these advances reflects God's care for His creation. I pray that more human effort could come from that side of our human nature now, and I look forward to the day when all creation is redeemed and that bent toward the evil, destructive side of our nature is fully removed.

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