The vast majority of people never give the trillions of cells within their body a first thought, let alone a second thought. Truthfully, that's the way it should be. Normally those little guys efficiently go about their business, doing exactly what they were intended to do. They have a purpose, a job to do and in most cases they do it perfectly, without and glitches. They don't wander off and do their own thing or whine about how they wish they were something else, perhaps a brain cell instead of a skin cell. They are who they are and they have a purpose.
Cancer forever changed my view of the cells because I experienced first hand what happens when a cell goes rogue. Quite frankly, left unchecked, it will eventually kill you. The only two options are to repair it or destroy it before it destroys you.
In 2008, I underwent dose-dense chemotherapy and then radiotherapy in an attempt to rid my body of any cancer cells that may have remained behind after the removal of a malignant tumor. The purpose of chemotherapy is to see out and destroy fast growing cells because cancer cells grow faster than normal. The problem is... not all fast growing cells are cancer cells. In fact, most of them are not. Some examples of fast-growing cells are hair follicles, skin and cells that line the gastro-intestinal tract. Ah! So that's why a common side effect of chemo, depending on the type of drugs you are given, is often hair loss! A lot of times patients also experience the loss of taste buds (there's a strange metallic taste in their mouth) and their sense of smell becomes overly sensitive much like what happens to many women during pregnancy. As uncomfortable as these symptoms are, these horrible side-effects are actually a sign that the chemo drugs are doing what they are supposed to be doing, destroying fast-growing cells like cancer. This is one of the few times that a doctor is actually happy to hear that you are not feeling the greatest.
As normal, healthy fast growing cells were destroyed, I suddenly became aware of what those little guys did and to tell you the truth, I missed them. I missed them very much. I suddenly became aware of the fact that my nose seemed rather... dirty. I didn't have a cold but it felt strange... a bit snuffly. All my life, fine little hairs had lined my nasal passages and relentlessly scrubbed clean the air that passed through my nose on its way to my lungs thus keeping the lungs free of debris that could damage them. No one sees them at work except God and we ourselves are rarely aware of their presence until there is a problem. Do you know what? I really missed them when they were gone, just like I missed my eyelashes.
I retained four eyelashes on each eye. Yes, I counted them. Now lest you think I am vain, I need to set the record straight. Sure I did miss them for the obvious reason. We women definitely like our eyelashes, the thicker, longer and darker, the better but that wasn't the main reason I missed my eyelashes. It wasn't until I lost them that I discovered their true purpose was not to make my eyes look more attractive. That was just a benefit. Their true purpose was to help keep my eyes clean and free of irritants.
While I am on the subject of eyes, I have to mention tears. I still had tears but the chemical compostion of those tears was changed. Instead of feeling like normal tears, they felt thick and sticky. Imagine crying tears that are of a thicky, oily and yet sticky substance and you will get an idea of what my chemo-tears were like. Since my tears were altered, I didn't get that "cleansing-effect" from tears that we women at least, like so well. Any woman reading this knows exactly what I mean when I say I couldn't have "a good cry" and can probably imagine how incredibly frustrating that was for me. When I had my first normal cry nearly a year later, I ... well... I cried even harder. I was so happy! My poor husband didn't know what to think of that.
I got a small scratch right after I started chemo. It was one of those fingernail across the skin scratches that shows up which and doesn't even break the skin. Over the next few months, I would watch in horror as this scratch expanded across the entire back of my hand. When it finally did form a scab, it looked like it had been pieced together by a madman. It was a horrible purplish mass with a crazy quilt design. People would gasp, "What happened to you hand?" and I would mutter that I had scratched it. They would stare at me in disbelief as I told them no, I had not had my hand slashed. It really was just a mere scratch only see, my immune-system is not exactly working right at the moment. It's rather short-handed and this was the best it could do at this time. I am pleased to report that when things got back to normal, my body did properly take care of it and today I only have a tiny scar to mark the incident.
I could go on and on but you get the idea. These little insignificant things suddenly became big things when something was no longer doing its job or was missing altogether. Chemo taught me that even the smallest cell has its purpose and is important within the body.
God has a purpose for our life. Oh, it may not look as glamourous as some nor be as visible but mark my words, it is important. Everything God does is important. We might not always think so but when you come right down to it, what do we know? Not a whole lot really, especially in comparison to God. The question is not, "Does God have a purpose for my life?" The question is "Am I fulfilling God's purpose for my life?"
It's not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What's important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NLT)
Image courtesy of kraifreedom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Scripture from the New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
"Everything God does is important."
I love this blog!
I was just thinking earlier this morning about all of the intricate details within our body that we can't see that help us function every day. Your writing of the cells is one of those reminders of the great truth of the scripture from Psalm 68:19 that reads:
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah."
All of those intricate creations within our bodies do indeed... "daily"... load us with benefits, don't they?
How interesting! I did not know all these things! The nose hair and eyelashes, I knew and understood ...but the sticky tears, wow, and the body not being able to heal a small scratch ...yes, God certainly had a reason for each and every cell!
Wonderful blog, not only about your subject but for the goodness of God to see you through all those abnormalities, which to be honest, would freak me out.