On March 28, 2008, I had my first infusion of a chemo drug called Taxol. I'd previously had four infusions of Adriamycin/Cytoxen (A/C)and had been told that generally most people tolerate Taxol far better. Granted about 40% of the people have an allergic reaction to it but that is easily dealt with by running an IV of Benadryl before Taxol is administered. Then there was a small chance that I might develop bone marrow pain but that wasn't very likely. Most people ended up tolerating it quite well. So, as spring sprung, I was looking forward to things getting better.
The good news was I am not allergic to Taxol. I was relieved by that because instead of making me take a five hour nap, Benadryl makes me HYPER and oh, they had fun with me that day as I kept hopping out of bed and prowling about in search of adventure. I remember asking when I was going to have that nap they promised me. Looking at the clock, the chemo nurse said, "You're not going to get it because you are one of "those" people who get hyper instead of sleepy." Sigh... oh well. I went back to watching my Chonda Pierce DVD and stirring up trouble whenever I could.
Exactly 24 hours after my infusion, I was having my Neulasta shot. This is an incredibly expensive drug given to chemo patients 24 hours after having chemo for the purpose of accelerating the production of white blood cells. This is important in trying to protect the patient from illness which can delay their treatment. Time is of the essence when you are having cancer treatment.
One of the less common side-effects of Neulasta is bone-marrow pain. If you have this side-effect you pretty much must grin and bear it, remembering that it will go away after about 3-5 days, not returning until your next shot. The bad news was Neulasta and my body did not get along very well. The pain could best be described as having a frozen metal rod inserted into the center of your bones. OUCH!
The additional bad news for me was that I was one of the lucky few who experienced nerve pain with Taxol so between the Taxol, which made me feel like fiery snakes were creeping up my legs and Neulasta, I was miserable for a few days. The pain I was experiencing was due to the misfiring of damaged nerves and there was nothing they could do about it except wait until the drugs worked their way out of my system. I could only take solace in the fact that it was not going to last forever.
A few days after my first Taxol infusion, I was in agony. I was glad I had been prepared for this possibility. Otherwise it would have been extremely frightening. I would cry and kick my "burning" legs in agony, trying desperately to be brave and trust God but it seemed to be a losing battle. God seemed very far away. Why didn't He help me? Why was He allowing me to endure such terrible pain? Why couldn't He simply at least knock me out so I could be free of this agony for a few hours? There was no answer from God... only silence.
I remember hobbling to my computer around 2:00 a.m. A CB friend in Malaysia heard my "cry" and prayed for me. I took a pink sticky note and with a black Sharpie, I wrote these words:
God is bigger!
He makes my darkness light!
The joy of the Lord is my strength!
There was no thundering voice from Heaven. There was no burning bush experience, no vision. There was only silence and yet in that silence, there was God. He was aware of my pain, my suffering, my fear and even my questions and He cared. He cared about a bald-headed woman with tears in her eyes, hunched over a keyboard who wondered why. Not only did He care about her, He loved her with an immeasurable love and if He could remove this cup, He would but for reasons only He fully understood, I would have to drink it.
In that moment I knew that God is bigger than anything I could ever face. He is brighter than any darkness I will ever encounter and even when I am weak and sick, He is my strength.
That faded, cumpled pink sheet of paper is still stuck to my computer monitor. Actually, I have a different monitor now but it made the move to the new one. I took a picture of it and added it to this blog so that you might see it too... and remember.
That was wonderful - like a pick-me-up tonic first thing in the morning, no much better.
God is bigger, better and smarter than we are. If we will turn to Him in our darkest hour He will always be there. He may not immediately deliver us, but He will guard us and take care of us just as he did for you many years ago and continues to today.
As John says, this blog is a real tonic.
"There was no thundering voice from Heaven. There was no burning bush experience, no vision. There was only silence and yet in that silence, there was God. He was aware of my pain, my suffering, my fear and even my questions and He cared. "
You reminded me of Elijah in 1 Kings 19. How the Lord's voice was not speaking to him in the wind or the earthquake or the fire ... but in, as Barnes' Notes put it, "a sound of soft stillness."
Thank you for sharing this experience with us. As always, a delight to read one of your blogs.