Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reminder to Self . . .

In blogs past I have written of a friend Marty's age who was diagnosed with inflamatory breast cancer in 2007, just months after her second little boy was born. Not only is she a wife and mother, she also has an impressive career as a nuclear physicist with NASA (I think I have that right), is a wonderful friend and family person and has campaigned tirelessly for awareness of her particular kind of cancer and advocated for mothers with cancer. She is quite a young woman! She has been in remission until a few months ago and a second cancer was found, necessitating more treatment. Her comments about the fatigue and its effects on her life have caused me to think about my own and the ways I've tried to manage it. They also made me wonder just how she does all she does and what an inspiration she is!

Do you remember the story about the three billy goats gruff? I didn't until just now as I was visualizing what the fatigue is like. It could be likened to the troll(s) who lived under the bridge the goats had to cross. They knew they had to go over the bridge to get from one place to another and that there was the looming possibility that the troll was there waiting for them. It was a monster determined to attack as they crossed. Anticipating crossing the bridge caused apprehension. There was fear while crossing and finally they reached the other side--or not.

Fatigue during chemo and/or radiation is unavoidable. (I have not had to have radiation so I'm only writing what I've heard about it.) The drugs do lower your blood counts, though every cancer patient responds differently. The lower your counts, the more tired you become; the more chemo you take, the more difficult it is for your bone marrow to produce new cells. Those things are givens. I will be tired, but I have a choice in how I manage. I can either focus on how tired I am and do nothing or I can live with it the very best that I can.

A few words come to mind:
*PACE yourself. Alternate tasts that require a lot of energy with those that don't.
*ACCEPT help that is offered and thank God for His provision.
*REALIZE that you are not Super Woman (or Man). You will not be evaluated or judged by how much you can and cannot do.
*RELY on the strength Paul writes about in Philippians (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me) and the grace he writes about in II Corinthians (My grace is sufficient for you).

Practically speaking, LEARN to use your time wisely; LEARN to do things sitting down; and LEARN to tell it like it is. You know your body; you know when the fatigue hits and when you are at your lowest. Plan your errands for the time when your body is recuperating and the energy is rising. Don't stand to do a chore in the kitchen that you could you as easily do sitting down. If you are visiting with someone and you tire of standing, ask if they mind if you sit. Ask your doctor to fill out the paper work to get you a temporary handicap parking permit.

It is amazing how God uses people in our lives. I have known Susan, the young woman about whom I wrote, for more than twenty years--ever since she and Marty were in junior high. I listened to them giggle, heard them whisper about boys and helped them dress to double date for their first dance. She was the scientific sort; Marty was the musician, but they were friends above all and have remained so all these years. I pray that God will completely heal her and that she will touch others as she has touched me.

Pastor Margaret

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