Sunday, January 27, 2013

Grapefruit

I really don't remember when I first began enjoying grapefruit for breakfast. I have an early childhood memory, perhaps early grade-school age, of seeing my dad eating grapefruit one Sunday morning at breakfast. I tried a piece and liked it. From then on, for Sunday morning breakfast, my dad and I would share a grapefruit. The rest is history, and I have continued to enjoy grapefruit at breakfast.

Why the sudden memory of grapefruit? Well, for the past twenty-two months, I have not been allowed to eat grapefruit because of the cancer medicine. This is one of the weird things about grapefruit. For some reason, it can affect the way the medicine is metabolized in the body. The day after beginning taking the medicine, we went down to the breakfast buffet, and there they were: grapefruit halves. I was really tempted, but turned my back and have not really thought about eating a grapefruit for these last twenty-two months. That is, until last week.

Once we knew the medicine was no longer working and started making preparations to begin the new clinical trial, I was taken off all of the cancer medicine to begin a clean out for seven to ten days. I have to do this before I can start the new medicine. Given the opportunity, I decided that I wanted grapefruit for breakfast, and for the past few days, grapefruit has been restored to my breakfast. I have already been told that once I begin the new medicine that grapefruit will, once again, be off the menu. So, I have to enjoy it while I can.

In an odd kind of way, these past few days, I have gotten just a small part of my pre-cancer life back. Even though, right now, we know that the cancer has returned, I still believe that in time, just like the grapefruit, God is going to restore the years that the cancer has taken.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mountain Tops and Valleys

On my journey to beat lung cancer, I have learned that not only are there bends in the roads, but also ups and downs. I have taken to calling the "ups" mountain tops and the "downs" are the valleys.

Mountain tops are the good days. Those are the days when you can see what you have and focus on that, instead of what you need. Mountain tops are addictive, and I fight like crazy to get to them and fight even harder to stay. The past two years, I have been able to enjoy more mountain tops than valleys. There is no way to go from mountain top to mountain top without passing through a valley. I have forgotten just how fast, rocky, and treacherous the descent into a valley can be.

Now here I am again in a valley. New spots on my lung and in the hospital with pneumonia. Hitting the bottom hurt, and from where I sit, all I can see are shear, jagged cliffs. I don't see an easy path to begin climbing back to the mountain top. I know that, eventually, I will get up, dust myself off, and start walking the road that is in front of me. I know one of two things will happen: I will either find the path back to the top, or I will find the rich lush part of the valley where the river that brings living water and nourishes the valley flows. There, too, I will be nourished and grow.

I am beginning to believe that God does not intend for me to climb my way out of every valley. Sometimes the best way is to learn to grow my way out of the valley.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Picking Up Bread Crumbs

At my last visit to MD Anderson, we learned that my CT scan showed a suspicious spot on my right lung that is indicative of a new tumor. The doctors are unsure at this point if it is cancer but felt that the best approach would be to have a PET scan at my next appointment to determine if it is indeed cancer again. If the spot is determined to be cancer, that will mean that the cancer has found a way around the inhibitor drug that I have been taking for the past twenty-two months.

We were told from the beginning that there were no assurances of how long the medicine would work. But I have done my best to push those thoughts out of my mind. Beating lung cancer once is hard enough; beating it twice would just be harder. When you are fighting cancer, you just think about today and not what you may have to face tomorrow. However, now I have to begin thinking about what may lie ahead: Is there another bend in the road in this journey to beat cancer?

In trying to look ahead, I have been looking more backward than forward. I keep replaying these past two and a half years over in my mind. They have been nothing short of an incredible miracle. I have taken the medicine for twice as long as the average patient in any of the trials. I have done things that have the doctors shaking their heads and saying things like, "you are not typical."

As good as all of that is, there is part of me that feels like I have missed something. I am beginning to feel like the disciples must have felt in John chapter 6. Jesus had just performed an incredible miracle by feeding over 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two small fish. Once everyone was fed and satisfied, Jesus told the disciples to go pick up the leftovers. He told them to let nothing go to waste. I don't think Jesus was only talking about the food. I think Jesus wanted them to see with just how much abundance He had met their needs. He wanted them to believe that they could depend on Him for their very basic needs.

So, as I have been going back through these past two and a half years picking up the bread crumbs, there is one thing that I am seeing consistently. Jesus has been far ahead of us the whole time. He has known from the beginning what was to come and laid the stones that we would walk on. He already knows what the results of the PET scan will be and is already preparing the path we will take.

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guide while life shall last,
And our eternal home.