Monday's all-day chemo was my 4th treatment of 6 magic poisons - er, potions - which means just two more all-day sessions and just two months to go. I'm so totally psyched, as I'm on the home stretch! I was talking to my friend Molly on Saturday night and she said this seems to be flying by, and it seems that way to me, too.
In contrast to my cancer two years ago, this time around has had lower lows (probably because I'm getting 4x the number of drugs) but also higher highs as I know better how to manage through it. Yesterday's blood cell counts reflected that - they were up to levels I haven't seen in 6 weeks. So I'm well positioned for the toll this week's chemo will take, and this will probably stave off any transfusion talk for another 3 weeks. High five, support team!
One of my cancer correspondents was talking about maintaining a positive attitude and was in the Why me? Why do bad things happen to good people? phase. My theory is that it's because we need them, sometimes we court them, sometimes it's God keeping us out of harm's way, and sometimes they are a wake-up call.
1) Bad things are how we learn and grow.
Along the lines of 'whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger,' you learn new levels of resilience, fortitude, and overall perspectives on life from dealing with issues, starting with that very first bump when you fall when you're learning to walk. How we respond to bad things shapes us.
2) Even good people get consequences when they don't follow the rules.
Think like a parent: you set up household rules, and if the kids don't follow them, they are choosing whatever fair punishment was set up in advance. So if we eat pesticide-laden produce or a lot of red meat, smoke, drink, weigh too much, don't exercise regularly, or otherwise flout what we know to be the rules for a healthy life, how can we complain when we get the consequences? Our job is to learn from it, change, and help others avoid the same issues.
3) Sometimes what we think is a bad thing is simply paving the way for something more wonderful to come.
I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who have been crushed by losing a job assignment or a key promotion, only to find that it paved the way for something much more wonderful. My minister just retired, and told the story of losing a church appointment he wanted so badly that he'd already picked out where he would live. Then a year later he got a better assignment, and several years later came to head our church which opened up the opportunity to do amazing things: invocation at a presidential inauguration, call the City of Dallas to offer $1 million to help with Katrina victims flooding in, and create local and international missions. When he recently visited the church he'd originally wanted so badly, there was now a sewer treatment center located close enough to lend a certain aroma to what was clearly a declining neighborhood.
And who hasn't run into an old flame and thought "boy, I dodged a bullet with that one?!" and thank heaven for meeting your spouse.
So for all dealing with cancer, I don't know what's ahead but I know there's a grand design and purpose in life and there's good stuff to come.
(4) Managers put their best people on their worst problems.
When you're managing a team, you assign your very best person to your worst problem, and stay close to it. I can't help but feel that if God has a hand in people getting specific challenges or illnesses, he's assigning it to us for a reason: can we learn from it and help others? Can we help raise money to find a cure? Find a role to make things better?
When I got ovarian cancer two years ago, now referred to as my 'starter' cancer, I figured that was my consequence for not watching my exercise, weight, choosing non-organic, etc. So I got to work on the root causes, and was making a difference for me. But then I got a slightly scarier cancer, and I figure this must be my wake-up call to figure out where I can really make a difference for others.
A shout-out to friends in NY, Columbus, Chicago, Denver, and Seattle: so glad you've all finally gotten out of the icebox and into some warm, sunny weather - hope it's here to stay!