The longer we go in this process, everyone (including me) begins to expect our journey of pain and suffering to get easier. It is a natural desire. You see your son, husband, friend or pastor suffer with cancer for weeks and months. You pray. You cry. You comfort. You long for healing. As the journey lengthens, so does your expectation that this will get easier. The hard truth is sometimes it just doesn’t. Sometimes the pain gets better for a time and then worse again. Sometimes the nausea just won’t go away and sometimes it is just hard to look on the bright side of things. You may have guessed it by now – this is Nathan writing and this is my story.
I am naturally a very upbeat, positive, ‘half-glass full” person. I always seem to be able to spin a positive side to situations, but my positive spirit has wavered in this journey. After thinking through where Sarah and I are right now, I feel it is unhelpful to put a positive spin on our story, when that is not what my heart feels. If you are reading this blog then clearly you love us, want the best for us and deserve the “unrated” version of life with cancer. So, here we go:
Life with cancer sucks – plain and simple. More than that, life with cancer and extreme blood clots can feel unbearable at times. When we started this whole process, I was obviously most concerned with fighting cancer. Now that I am almost six weeks in, it is the blood clots that are causing the most problems. Long story short: the largest tumor in my abdomen is pressing against the main vein that flows from my heart to my legs. This pressure has slowed blood flow and caused an unending series of blood clots throughout my legs. This is where my pain and lack of mobility are coming from. I say this to help everyone understand that we are battling two different problems here not just one. As you pray, please pray that God will fully heal me from these vicious blood clots.
We are back in the hospital. We were only home two days when I finally had to throw in the towel and return. While we were home, I began swelling again, fighting pain, fever and loss of mobility. We have been back in the hospital for five days now. I am feeling much better than I was at home. The swelling has gone down and the pain is controlled through medication but it would be a lie to say I was doing well. My spirits are down and my heart fights for joy when there seems to be none. I know God’s promises in the midst of all this. I know he is good and loves me but it’s hard to believe these things when I feel broken and beaten down day after day. It seems that just when I start to have relief in one area, I am crushed in another. Relief seems so distant. As you pray, pray that my heart would believe in and cherish God’s promises in the midst of my pain. Pray that my heart would echo the words of a song I have been singing the last few days, “Begone unbelief, My Savior is near,
And for my relief will surely appear:
By faith let me wrestle, with God in the storm…” (Begone Unbelief, Indelible Grace)
In all this I am still fighting but in different ways. I have learned that the battle with cancer and clots is not mine to fight. The battle belongs to the Lord. I am told to be still and the Lord will fight for me. What I am fighting for is a closeness and intimacy with God. Many days I feel hardened- like I am digging my heels in for survival. I fail to give my own fears and weakness to the Lord. I am fighting to believe that the plan God has for me is good. I know God’s plan is good because I know my God, but some days my belief wavers. I am fighting for joy – joy in the Lord, joy in friends, joy in our true home and a life that is greater than this one. Some days I wake up and seek God’s grace and other days I fight to even pray. Some days I enjoy visits from friends and other days I ask people to stay away. Some days I have hope and rejoice in what God is doing and other days I don’t.
I do not know what the road ahead looks like. What I do know is the God who loves me, cares for me, and longs for my good is on the road with me. In fact, He owns the road. He is ever-present and continues to be my companion on this road of suffering.
As you continue to pray for me, pray that I will constantly be reminded that God, the creator and sustainer of the world, the one who holds all things together by his power is the one who walks with me daily through my suffering. He is the one who has never failed in the past and who cannot fail in the future. “One thing God has spoken and two things have I heard. That you, O God are strong and that you, O God are loving.” Psalm 62:11