I read a blog today by @paulphil which is entitled Still Leaning Forward. As I read the blog, I found my mind drifting back to the winter and spring of 2008 when I was undergoing chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. It was a rough course of treatment.
Since I had triple negative breast cancer, I had dose-dense chemo treatments every two weeks instead of the standard three weeks usually done for breast cancer. Triple breast cancer, though very aggressive, can respond well to chemotherapy. If it doesn't, the prognosis is very poor. It was a rough course of treatment.
Though I had not intended to work during chemo and had arranged for a medical leave of absence prior to treatment, within a month all the other "triple negatives" in my cancer support group ended up taking medical leaves as well. It was just too physically demanding to continue to work as your body has little time to recover and you quickly become weaker and more vulnerable to illness.
In addition to the usual side-effects of chemo, I also experienced bone marrow pain from Neulasta, a drug which stimulates the production of white blood cells and nerve pain from Taxol which was one of my chemo drugs. In fact, Taxol did permanent damage to some of the nerves in my feet as well as in my left hand (chemo-induced neuropathy) and I have the perpetual sensation that they are "asleep". I am thankful there is rarely any pain.
They say there is no pain like childbirth. As someone who has experienced childbirth, I can tell you that is not true. Childbirth was a picnic compared to the pain I experienced deep within my bones as well as the pain caused by damaged nerves mis-firing. All I could do was cry and remind myself that this pain was not going to last forever.
That's how I endured it. I kept counting the weeks, the days, the hours and even the minutes until my final treatment. Every Friday that I had treatment, I would force myself to get up, get into the car and walk beside my husband to get my chemo infusion. Every time I desperately fought against the instinct to run and hide and both my body and mind fought against me. I didn't want to be here. I didn't want to endure this. I wanted to run, hide, lick my wounds, be alone in my misery and even at times, die.
Instead, I counted the days, reminded myself this was not forever, gritted my teeth, sat down in the recliner, submitting to the infusion of power chemo drugs. I dutifully got a Neulasta shot 24 hours later, despite knowing that 24 hours later I would be writhing with pain. I did all of this because I wanted to live. There was no guarantee that I would but on the other hand, this might give me a fighting chance. If I was going to go down, I wanted to go down fighting.
We have to remember that what we endure in this world is not going to last forever. There will come a time when the trouble, the pain and the suffering will be over. That is hard to imagine when you are "running the race" but we must. We must set our eyes on Christ and never stop running or walking for that matter. We must keep the faith. We must finish the course. Sometimes our pace will slow down to a walk and perhaps even a crawl but with God's help, we must press on until we cross the finish line.
We must remember these words and hide them in our heart:
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NLT)
Scripture quotation from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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