So they are saying that 10,000 people died in the typhoon that hit the Philippines. Can you even fathom that? It’s a half full hockey area, roughly. When I read numbers like that in the same sentence as the word “died” I kind of automatically shut down and decide to think about something else. My brain finds it difficult to compute. My heart doesn’t have the capacity for the level of grief that such a situation requires. My spirit rages at the seeming injustice. I look heavenward and give God the stink eye.
In my fight against cancer, I have a few weapons. The first is God. It’s ok if you don’t believe that. I do, and I believe He is sovereign over all of this. Moreso than God being a weapon with which to fight, He is the overseer of the whole thing. And the One I can rely on to walk me through the fear and confusion. And that’s a good thing because man, is there a lot of confusion!
The second is my doctor and Western medicine. I’m a fan. Chemo brings dying people back from the brink (sometimes.) PET scans detect cancer early enough to do something about it. Pain killers help people fight through another day. I believe in all the wonders of the modern medical community. I believe God has given us knowledge and information and wisdom that can save lives through scalpels and pills and laser machines.
But I do NOT believe it is the end all, be all. Which brings me to my final weapon.
The growing (and holy moly is it confusing, inconsistent, conflicting and overwhelming) body of knowledge around nutrition, lifestyle and a more holistic view on the body and its systems. I am all for this. I am game for making big changes in what I eat and don’t eat, what products I use, what activities and technology I engage in, my sleep patterns, consumption of medications, exposure to potentially dangerous materials, etc. I am very willing to attack this beast with all available to me.
Everything is in conflict with everything else. Paleo. Vegetarian. Vegan. Macrobiotic. Fasting. Supplements. No supplements. Vitamin D3. Vitamin B6. Dairy free. Organic only. Wheat free. Gluten free. Sugar free. No artificial sweeteners. No packaged/prepared foods. Not too much fruit. No fruit. No grains at all. No corn. Nothing genetically modified. No salt. No cheese. No red meat. Lots of red meat, but only if it’s lean and grass fed and grass finished. No cows, but goat products are ok. A little honey. No honey. Lots of honey. Potatoes. Only certain potatoes. Any vegetable. No tomatoes. Bottled water. Never bottled water. Only reverse-osmosis filtered water. Lemon water. No citrus. No pasta. Only rice pasta. Lots of beans. No legumes whatsoever.
This is the point where I begin to feel like the world is spinning. I can’t sort it all out. Who is right? Who can I trust? What if it’s different for everyone? How will I know? As a friend recently commented…I eat a bite of dairy and I’m like “great, I’m screwed.”
So on one hand, I want to say “Eh, I trust God, so whatever.” But no. I mean, I do. REALLY, I do. But I feel some responsibility to figure this out. To some extent. And when I get better, the fundraiser in me is going to turn into a dragon and out of sheer outrage is going to find the money to fund the research around this stuff so we can KNOW what we are supposed to eat!!!
In Pittsburgh and the surrounding vicinity, there are many neighborhoods to choose from. My family recently moved from the South Hills to an area east of the city. There are many good things about this location, but the biggest baddest thing is fighting the traffic at the Squirrel Hill tunnels every morning and evening. Many writers before me have waxed philosophical about the lack of explanation of the origin of this nearly always present traffic – there is never an accident, roadblock or lane closure. Just a strange phenomenon of people slowing down, quite abruptly, as if the tunnel has in some way startled them, as if there are not actual signs not only alerting us to their presence but actually instructing us to maintain our speed. The part that really get me is that this happens each day during rush hour. We must assume that the vast majority of these travelers embark on this westward journey regularly. And still the tunnel scares them, and still they slow, and make us all late.
Chemo is a funny thing. It’s making me feel way worse than cancer has, and yet we have to assume it’s helping me. It is difficult to willingly allow someone to put poison in your body. One of my poisons is made of platinum. I know, I’m fancy. But that’s a metal. And it’s in my blood. That’s weird.
We arrived at the treatment center and got hooked up via Mort the Port to an IV of pre-meds. (Steroids and anti-nausea stuff.) We then met with my doc, Dr. Mehta. He gave us good news: my cancer has NOT spread. They hadn’t assumed it had but its good to know concretely. Also my blood work (white blood cells, etc. were all in normal ranges.) **These are answers to prayer.** When God answers our prayers so clearly – its worthy of a moment of our time and consideration. We have to pause, acknowledge, give thanks. He does not always answer with what we are looking for – sometimes the journey is longer than the one we planned for. But sometimes we get a simple gift like this. I am grateful. I give thanks that this cancer hasn’t spiraled out of control. There is an army in my body fighting it, and it’s doing an amazing job. I’m thankful for my surgeon who did a difficult surgery well and removed what was visible. Thank you, Lord for all of your provisions.