There is, I’ve discovered, an invisible line between what’s real and what’s not, separating illusion from experiential truth. Fantasy from fiction. Perception can only go so far in convincing us that we know what we think we know and can do what we think we can do. Cancer is one of those unseen lines that divides who we really are from who we imagine ourselves to be.
Tuesday, Bud and I walked into the infusion room, where three rows of empty chairs accompanied by sturdy IV poles were waiting for us, lined up like sentries prepared for battle. The cheerful nurse smiled at us, “You’re the first to arrive so feel free to pick where you’d like to sit.” Visions of scanning the restaurant, looking for a table by the window, gave me a fleeting sense of prestige, until I realized what was on the menu. Suddenly, I didn’t feel hungry anymore.
Four and a half hours later, the last drip disappeared from the tube and slid into Bud’s veins. We were finished. The first treatment was over, until the next day when we would walk in and choose another chair. Because that’s what war is like, you press forward, retreat, regroup, and press forward again to fight another day. Then, you march back home knowing that the soldier who said, War is Hell, said it after his boots had sunk into the mud of the foxhole.
The first day was rough; all the usual suspects showed up for battle, nausea, fatigue, cold and chills, and the inability to sleep for any reasonable length of time. But, by the second day we began to feel like maybe this would not be our worst day ever. And, in fact, it went better than we anticipated. We drove home, excited to enjoy our four days of R & R, before going back to do it all again. And again. And again. Each treatment bringing us closer to our goal; to beat cancer into submission and head for Hawaii.
So this, my friends, is the true face of cancer. The worst friend you never wanted to have, and yet the friend who sneaks into your life and gives you the gift of discovery; that your strength is an illusion and your self-sufficiency is a gathering of powerless words. And the only exception to this is found one word; Jesus. Ever Present. All Powerful. Tender and Merciful. Gentle and Kind. The One who reigns over us with sword drawn and ready for battle. The One who shines His face through nurses, and patients, and friends who join Him on the battlefield of prayer. The One who holds you close, rocks you to sleep, and whispers softly as your eyes finally close, “It’s okay, you can trust Me, I’ve got this.”
And suddenly you know what’s real.
Thank you for sharing the journey with us.