Fighting cancer with surgery, radiation, chemo, etc is this whole lifestyle. You put your head down with determination, you think positive, you deal with physical pain, exhaustion, you combat the side effects with medicine, home remedies, rest, prayer, massage, warm baths, lotions, creams, healing foods, tea. You wish the bad days away and hold onto the good days, dreading the next chemo. But basically, you’re getting through it. You have a timeline. You have a specific goal…get through the next chemo, and ultimately, get done with chemo. You can’t wait to be done. You’re jealous of those ahead of you – if someone has just one fewer treatment than you do, you are insanely envious of them. Oh, to have just 3 instead of 4 left!!!
But then you get done. And a few things happen. The first is relief and celebration. It is AMAZING to not have to schedule your life around chemo treatments and how your body will be handling them. As the nausea, heartburn, neuropathy, cold sensitivity, joint pain, fatigue begin to subside, and as the nails, hair and taste buds start to grow back, you have a different feeling that can take hold. Fear.
You’re done fighting. Now we have to see if you’ve won or not. And the enemy could show up again anytime, without much warning. The future is filled with scans and blood tests and hyper vigilance. Healthy, cancer fighting foods, exercise, stress reducing behaviors, avoiding exposure to nasty chemicals. It’s easy to get swept away by the fear and the stress that every thing you do is either inching you toward or away from cancer.
This is the part I struggled with the hardest, mentally and emotionally the last time we crossed the chemo finish line. Chemo – it takes quite a toll. But the time after, it’s a different kind of challenge.
Primarily, it’s a challenge of faith. This is where we have to just take God’s big, strong hand, and choose to let go of our fear. All this time, we prayed and trusted Him we’d get through the chemo. Now we have to trust that, no matter what, He’s got us. He’s in control. He’s all over this. It doesn’t mean your cancer won’t come back. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. But we’re called to a life of adventure, a life of uncertainty. A wild ride of a life where we’ve handed the keys over the the Big Guy and believed this was the best way. It is the best way. We can’t control it anyhow, so why not just rest in the knowledge that the best possible tour guide, navigator, driver, event planner and travel companion is in charge. Gratitude and trust can stamp out fear. I’ve experienced it many times. You simply can’t be thankful and afraid at the same moment. One has to win out. Light casts out darkness, not the other way around.