Who knew that radiation would zap the cancer and zap the life right out of me?! Wow. After my first treatment on Wednesday morning, the nurse met me to review skin care (the laser can cause a sunburn-like effect so skin care is an issue to avoid burning or itching) and address fatigue. That was my first knowledge of fatigue so I looked at her dumbly and said, “everybody has fatigue with this?” She responded with “oh, honey, you can be sure of that …” and after 3 treatments and confirming with others, there’s no doubt that Miz Pat was right. I’m still not sure why laying on a table for about :10 minutes with lots of beeping and numbers called out can take the life out of me but by mid-afternoon Linc isn’t the only one in the house sleeping like a baby. Thankfully, besides a side of fatigue and some tummy issues that I can’t get rid of (they started before the oral chemo but those drugs sure don’t help), I’m really doing pretty well. Life feels relatively “normal” (whatever that is) except for early mornings and long naps.
My hair is definitely coming back and that’s been a good thing. Minus shaving my legs and using anti-hair products on my face. I’ve never had facial hair issues but felt a little “fuzzy” and couldn’t decide if that was because I was so used to not having any hair on my face or something else. I made a joke about it at the doctor’s office and she responded with an unfortunate answer of, “oh, yeah, a furry face is common … it’s like the body is so excited it can make hair again that it gets a little too excited.” That’s all I needed to hear to make a quick trip to the drug store for my first facial hair remover purchase. Then, not shortly thereafter, I had my face about 2 inches from Scott’s saying, “oh gosh, I think I got carried away, do you think it’s burned?!” Thankfully, the redness passed and I no longer feel like my facial hair may outgrow the hair on my head. Dr. Osborne said it will “level off” and I hope that happens sooner rather than later. There are quite a few cancer side effects that seem to sneak up on me – fatigue and facial hair being the 2 most recent. Apart from the facial hair and having to shaving my legs again, I’m pretty amused by the return of my hair – slowly but surely. I told Scott the other day that I’ve never ever had so many compliments about my looks in my life before my new buzz cut. From sweet folks who love me and even strangers that don’t know me. I can’t decide if they just all think I’m bold and sassy or if Amber Rose is starting a trend. But, for those that know my story or strangers who are fellow “pink ladies” and recognize me as a chemotherapy patient rather than a hip, trendy, socialite like Amber Rose, I have been blessed by their really sweet comments about loving my new look. I think it reflects that all of us, in our heart of hearts, love the pictures of new life and renewal – spring, babies, and cancer patients that begin regenerating hair. I believe God put this delight in our heart because we see the brokenness all around us and when, in the midst of that, He brings forth new life (or new hair), we can’t help but celebrate. And, these reminders are just a shadow of the greater newness available – small things that paint a picture of the new life available through Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
Revelation 21:5: And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
It is trustworthy and true that He is renewing my body after intense treatment and I’m thankful. It is even more trustworthy and true that He has renewed my life by giving me His son. I’m incredibly thankful for both.
Though I appreciate the many sweet comments from both friends and strangers about my hair, another recent hair experience gave me a good laugh of quite a different kind. Gigi and I took her 4 foster sons to Six Flags last weekend. As some of you know, I once was a Six Flags employee and am admittedly proud that I can still navigate the park pretty effectively. And I love rides. So, when the boys were given tickets for their birthdays, I was happy to join them and help Gigi. We got in the park and rode my old ride, El Sombrero (unlike all of you, the boys are actually really impressed that I worked at this ride), and then continued our tour in “Spain.” At our third ride of the day, we were in a long line for the Bobsled and Gigi all of a sudden said, “we are getting lots of looks … I think we look like ‘my 2 mommies’ …” Taken aback by her comment, I assessed the situation: 2 woman, 4 dark-skinned children that are obviously neither of ours biologically, one very masculine haircut, and my attempt at fashionable “color blocking” that could be mistaken for stripes of freedom. We died laughing. I had even been rather hot and pulled up my sleeves. Gigi suggested I roll them back down for a more feminine look. As if “my two mommies” wasn’t entertaining enough, I then realized that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I was the daddy-mommy. I had been perfectly happy for Scott to stay home with Lincoln while I went to play. Until that moment. We needed him and Linc as the “rest of our story” to clarify the situation at hand. Or, maybe we would have looked like “Sister Wives” instead of “Modern Family”?
Needless to say, we had a good laugh. And a good lesson. I’ve had a heart for the homosexual community for a long time. I dearly love several people that are in same-sex relationships. And, I believe they need Jesus just like I do. I also believe that in many situations “Christians” have treated them in a way that would give them no interest in wanting a relationship with the Jesus I love. But, all of a sudden, cancer and foster care gave me the ability to “walk a mile [maybe more after 6 hours at Six Flags!?] in their shoes” and it taught me a couple of valuable lessons. 1. Never assume. Never judge. How do you know that those 2 men or 2 women you see aren’t just dear friends with cancer and foster kids?! and 2. Love them. We stopped for a picture (a family photo?!) and I happened to ask a man with “Jesus” in huge letters on his shirt to take it for us. He was so kind about it and a woman with him even offered a $1 to try to get one of the boys, who is shy and didn’t want to look at the camera, to turn around and smile. Even though he never turned around, she gave him the dollar. It wasn’t until after they walked off and E proudly had his dollar that we remembered again that those “Jesus people” may have assumed what many others probably did all day – and they extended kindness and love. I hope that I would have extended the same love and kindness as joyfully as they did. As Todd reminded us in church this morning, “Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence or learning.” Amen. God’s kindness led me to repentance and I pray I will extend His same kindness to others.
Cancer. The gift that keeps on giving. I have a new haircut, new compliments, and new life lessons. I give thanks to the Lord as the One who “works all things together for good” (even cancer!) and is also able to makes all things new.
Thanks for all the pink, prayers and love!