First, I really need to say how amazed and grateful I am to the hundreds of well wishes and millions of prayers that have been made on my behalf. My mail box is full each day (both the one by the drive way and the one in my PC), many of you have posted beautiful blog entries with prayers and encouragement, and I have dozens of phone calls and visitors each day. I am overwhelmed by your kindness and the goodness of the Lord which He is sending to me through you all.
Second, I wanted to let you all know that I am making a steady recovery from the surgery (today marks two weeks). I am nearly off the pain medication, I am sleeping pretty well (though night sweats and nightmares don’t help), and I am nearly walking upright again after being hunched to protect my belly the past several days.
Also, I have begun having hot flashes, and I am trying to convince myself they are a result of the pain or the pain medication. Most likely, however, they are signs of early menopause which my body has been thrust into. Having an unexpected hysterectomy has been more difficult emotionally than I had imagined, and the hormonal changes I am/will experience are likely contributing to the emotion. But even for these pains in my heart, I know the Lord can bring healing and peace.
Today, I learned more about the general treatment plan to attack my cancer. Not surprisingly for those who know some of my other health history, I have a rare form of uterine cancer that acts more like ovarian cancer. The good news, according to the radiation oncologist, is that this makes chemotherapy much more effective. The bad news is that my other health problems — lupus and recurrent transverse myelitis — will definitely complicate the chemotherapy process. I am praying for great wisdom among my medical providers.
Chemotherapy will be a two-day regimen beginning November 1 and 2, and recurring every three weeks for 6-8 cycles. Radiation will be a 30-minute treatment once a week for five Tuesdays in a row beginning November 6. Getting through the first week of November will be a big test for what the next six months will be like.
Apart from these details of my recovery, I also have been struggling with how to think about my cancer. Many of you have called this process a battle, a fight, or a struggle. And I know that these metaphors are helpful to so many people in understanding their response to the disease. I hope that those of you who are thinking about my own situation in these terms will continue to do so if it is helpful for you to pray for or encourage me.
For myself, I am looking for a different metaphor. As hopeful as I am that I will be healed from cancer and live a long life, I also know that cancer sometimes ends in death. For me, thinking about this process as a fight means to die is a defeat. I don’t want to see death that way. Physical death and eternal life to follow is going to be my end whether it is in two years or twenty. Either way, I win. To help me think about my situation, I am looking for a picture that includes suffering and persevering and joy and hope, but that also allows for both living and dying.
In other words, I am looking for a metaphor for the Christian life that I can pare down and claim for my own during this very difficult period. But I haven’t found it yet and would love your ideas to help me think well about this cancer and God’s plan for me.
Thanks to you all for being with me in this.