I have finished my last chemotherapy treatment, and I am very happy to be done. More quickly than I had imagined possible, I am feeling better. The nausea is nearly gone, and I am gaining energy each day.
Finishing cancer treatment has been a big milestone, but now that I am finished, I have found myself in another difficult stage. Doing nothing to fight my cancer. Next week, I will have a CAT scan, an exam, and lab tests, and then after that, I will have lab tests every three months. Other than that, I wait.
I have found myself experiencing anxiety and fear similar to the level I had just after my diagnosis. Finishing treatment seems like a green light to any cancer cells that may remain. And my need for information has led me to the internet where I have found grim information about my specific type of cancer — endometrial papillary serous carcinoma — that I had not uncovered previously. I also have had a few nights of fitful sleep, awaking with end-of-life thoughts and the need to get my house in order.
How is a person to deal with the big, difficult realities of life and death? More specifically, what should I do as I stare down a diagnosis that continues to be difficult? I was asking these questions to Jesus very specifically the other night and really needed to hear back from Him. When I finally did open his word, I stumbled to Psalm 39 and found David wrestling with similar questions:
“Tell me, what’s going on, God?
How long do I have to live?
Give me the bad news!
You’ve kept me on pretty short rations;
my life is string too short to be saved.
Oh! we’re all puffs of air.
Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire.
Oh! we’re just spit in the wind.
We make our pile, and then we leave it.”
(Psalm 39:4-6 from The Message)
I felt loved in my fear knowing that these kind of doubtful sentiments are expressed in God’s word. And my faith was encouraged to remember that there are answers to these kinds of questions. Again, in Psalm 39, David goes on:
“What am I doing in the meantime, Lord?
Hoping, that’s what I’m doing—hoping
You’ll save me from a rebel life,
save me from the contempt of dunces.
I’ll say no more, I’ll shut my mouth,
since you, Lord, are behind all this.”
(Psalm 39:7-9 from The Message)
This passage took me from despair to hope again, and I will probably need to hear it over and over for the rest of my life. Even in the face of death, there is hope. And no matter how long I live, I want to live well for Jesus.