It is Tuesday July 5th, and I have just completed my 10th round of chemotherapy. (Unhooked on Sunday)
Today I am thinking about numbers.
10 rounds of chemo. I average 5 bad days with each round. That means I’ve gone through at least 50 really bad days. 50 days of nausea. 50 days of vomiting. 50 days of extreme fatigue and weakness. 50 days basically confined to a bed or couch.
That’s a lot of days.
I hate them. I hate every one of those days that have been stolen from me. For those that think I try too hard to be positive all the time, that I don’t let myself feel down enough, or experience the range of emotions I should feel, no need to worry. I despise what I’m going through.
There are days I am just ready to give up. I’m ready to die, I even ask to die. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times. I simultaneously needed to be sitting on the toilet, throwing up into the toilet, and laying down with my legs elevated so that I would not pass out- and obviously that was impossible. I was having intense stomach pains, I was heaving, I was dizzy, I was in a cold sweat. This is an ugly ugly disease with ugly treatment.
I pray the thoughts of David in Psalm 13: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” And Psalm 143: “Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails.”
Last Thursday night, the night before going in for this round of chemo, I cried myself to sleep. I sobbed. If God collects all our tears in a bottle, as scripture says, then I’m pretty sure I’ve filled up enough 2-liters to fill a grocery store. (This verse is now posted on my bathroom mirror: “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126) My mind had traveled back to about 7 months ago, when we were eagerly anticipating the birth of our little girl and there was no heavy burden of cancer. I imagined what I had imagined back then: she would be about 6 months old, and we would all be enamored of her. I’d be watching my boys hold her and make her laugh; I’d be enjoying learning about girl clothes and figuring out how to keep a little bow or barrette in her sparse hair. Oh how I wish those days had come to pass.
But as I said, I’m thinking about numbers today. And here’s some good numbers:
That’s how many cards I’ve been sent in the mail (just since the cancer diagnosis – that doesn’t count the 200+ cards in the month between Anna’s death and the cancer diagnosis). That also doesn’t count the 100+ cards from kiddos that have been sent my way.
In six months, ok that’s half a year so around 26 weeks, and mail only comes 6 days per week, so that’s 156 days. 800 divided by 156 equals 5+ cards per day that I’ve been sent in the mail. That’s what I’m averaging.
5+ cards per day
I’m not trying to brag. Except on you. That’s how well you’ve encouraged me.
That’s how much money was given in Anna’s name to Agape of Nashville. A worthy organization that does much good in the kingdom of God.
That’s how many times this website has been visited by those of us who need a word of encouragement. Who need to see God’s people holding each other up; remembering God’s faithfulness and miracles in the past.
That is one precious family member that I know of who has come to faith and been baptized because of how these events have touched his precious heart. Perhaps my favorite number of all.
So I press on. I try not to think about the bad numbers, but the good ones. I try to take it one day at a time, and find some joy in each day – and God does provide some joy in each day.
As I was sitting in chemo on Friday, a nurse came in with two ladies, giving them a tour of the treatment room. These same ladies were in front of me when I went to check out after I was done. It was clear it was their first day. When I walked out to the lobby area, they were still there, and it was obvious the older woman was struggling to keep it together.
I felt compelled to do something, yet very afraid. Shy Sara doesn’t bother people she doesn’t know, especially if they are upset.
But I remembered how dark and scary those first days were. And I remembered how you’ve shown me love.
I went over to her, laid my hand on her back, and said, “Did you get some bad news today?”
She said, through tears, “Yes. It’s my husband. It’s just a lot to take in.”
I told her the beginning is the hardest. I asked her if I could pray with her. She said yes, and I said a simple prayer, asking for good news soon, asking for strength.
I hope I was able to shine a little light into that dark day for her. I know God’s Spirit is able to do that. YOU ALL have shown me that.
Again, not trying to brag. Just thankful that in that “bad day” for me, God allowed me to find joy in passing along the love that’s been shown to me.
God is changing me. You are teaching me. God knows the number of my days, and they are the perfect number.