The last week of June, I sat in a room at the radiation treatment center in a major hospital where I'd be doing the final phase of my breast cancer treatment. It had been a long road since my diagnosis back in December 2007 and it would be another seven weeks before my treatment would be complete. My radiation oncologist walked into the room and went into detail about what I could expect as well as answered any questions I had.
After my examination, he began to talk about the importance of skin care of the radiated areas during treatment. While this is always extremely important, I needed to be even more careful as some people have factors which make them more prone to serious burning. I fell into that category. Great.
I learned that for the first two to three weeks, I would not notice much of anything. I would feel pretty good as I was getting further away from chemo. I probably would not notice any changes in my skin and radiation would seem like a breeze.
However, even though I wouldn't detect any evidence of radiation damage, it would be occurring beneath the skin where I couldn't see it. After about two to three weeks, the damage would begin to show on the surface. There wouldn't be anything I could do prevent the damage. After all, the reason they do radiation is to kill any cancer cells which may not have been removed. Healthy cells will be damaged as well but they will repair themselves. Cancer cells won't. While skin damage can't be completely prevented, there are things you can do to diminish it as much as possible. I was instructed to apply the recommended cream liberally to specified areas twice a day without fail in addition to some other instructions in the event that certain symptoms started to appear.
I'm glad I listened because a burn under my arm started to show up yesterday after exactly three weeks of treatment. I have 18 more days of treatment and I was told burns can continue to occur on the surface for two to four weeks after the completion of treatment. It's small and it doesn't really hurt much but I'd hate to see what it would have looked like if I had ignored my rad oncologist's advice!
For three weeks, I dutifully applied the lotion twice a day. I didn't see any evidence that I needed to do it. Everything appeared to be normal. However, I trusted my rad oncologist when he said I needed to do this in order to protect myself as much as possible.
You know, I've often heard Christians say things like "I can do such and such. It doesn't affect my walk with God at all." They ignore the counsel of those over them in the Lord or others who have been following Christ for a long time and have seen many fall into the same trap of complacency.
We dabble a bit here and indulge a bit there. We scoff at the warnings of others and call them legalistic. Meanwhile, sin begins to quietly slip beneath our skin and eat away at us. Often we don't notice anything at first. The enemy tries to remain hidden for as long as possible. The longer he can remain hidden, the more damage he can do. Sin can only be hidden for so long, however. Without warning we suddenly discover that we have been seriously wounded and we can't understand how that happened.
We failed to heed God's warnings. We were confident that we could handle things just fine. Restrictions on certain behaviors were only for weak Christians. They didn't apply to us. We were strong enough to handle anything that came our way after all, doesn't the Bible say we can do all things through Christ?
God has given us his Word. He has raised up godly pastors and other leaders to help us grow. There are those who have traveled paths similar to what we are on and have learned many lessons from that experience. God expects us to listen to what they have to say and consider their words carefully and prayerfully. Just because you can't see any damage doesn't mean damage isn't being done.
May we all learn to heed God's warnings every day.
First of all, Praise God for your road to recovery!
Next and most importantly, I am beyond thankful for your God-given ability to share with us all what you're experiencing and then being able to relate it to the Christian walk with Christ.
This blog speaks VOLUMES!! Those amongst us who would judge other brethren for being "too" ___ (insert adjective in blank) may actually want to think about what it is those "legalistic" Christians are trying to help others see.
I was told once, by a God-fearing man, (perhaps not God-fearing enough though) that he could go to certain places euphemistically referred to as "gentleman's clubs" and not be tainted because he was a "strong Christian".
Five years later after he made this statement to me, he has nothing left in his life. All has been taken, except his ability to work.
God doesn't tell us things for His good, but for ours.
Much love in Christ,