This morning I think I know how the Israelites must have felt when they had no food nor water, grumbled, then relied on God's provision when all else failed. Yesterday we encountered yet one more bump in the road in this journey of treating my cancer--a neutrophil count too low to receive the chemo. I was/am not happy! In the midst of learning a few weeks ago that treatment would have to resume, hope loomed bigger than life itself: hope that is founded in a faithful God; and hope that the new treatment would straighten out some of the crooked paths in the journey. The hope in God's care and healing is as constant as ever, even if I do wonder a bit more about what's around the next bend and why I'm being led there. But, the hope in the treatment has diminished. How like the Israelites! Do I just trust completely when all else fails?
Briefly, this is the story. A treatment cycle consists of three sets of infusions, given a week apart. The first and the third includes both the non-chemo drug that is supposed to cut off blood supply to the tumors; the chemo drug is given all three times. After two infusions of chemo my blood counts took a tumble and the ones most important to receiving chemo fell to unsafe levels, meaning I could not get the third infusion yesterday and had to start shots to boost my white count. There was also a warning about the platelet count. I had thought that the chemo drug this go around was more gentle on the system. The nurses said, "Maybe so, but your system is already compromised by all the chemo you have had in the past." Not exactly words I wanted to hear.
Immediately, questions began to nag at me. Does this mean I've reached the point where being treated is worse than waiting on the disease to take over my body? Will I have to choose between quality of life and quantity sooner, rather than later? Am I depending more on the manna than the God who provides it? What does this mean to everyday life?
When I left the clinic yesterday one of the nurses was trying to find a way for me to get my daily shots next week without having to drive to Corinth everyday. In the past, I have had the option of administering the shots myself or going to the clinic and, chicken that I am, chose to have Tom give them to me. This day in time, that's not possible: #1-he can no longer do that and #2-the insurance companies have created such a nightmare that criteria for payment dictates how the drug is administered. The answer to the question regarding everyday life, at least for next week, is to arrange trips to drive to Corinth Monday and Friday for labs and shots and maybe everyday for shots. Answers to the other questions are not as easy.
I had two thoughts in some sleepless hours before driving to Corinth. We need to specifically pray for my blood counts. I reread the information sheets on the two drugs I'm taking and a warning light went off in my head when I read common side effects of the chemo. I determined then that blood levels would be a specific prayer request. Little did I know I'd need an answer to that prayer so soon! The second thought contains a bit of irony. For the almost three years we've lived here we've been making regular trips to Corinth, Mississippi. What some of you may not know is that Corinth was the site of some important battles fought during the War Between the States. In fact, some of the economy of the region rests on tourism, which in turn is based on that time of conflict in our country. Isn't it a bit ironic that my battle with cancer is headquartered in Corinth? Oh, well! Maybe you have to be a Southerner to be touched by the significance.
Meanwhile, I've gotten sidetracked from completing my sermon for tomorrow, a message that will include God's pattern for giving, God's provision for His people and God's promise when we respond. May your worship of our unfailing God be blessed!