Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I know, I know...long time, no blog

This is the first time I've added to the blog since starting chemo, now almost five weeks ago.  Sorry for the extended absence, but I'm remembering what a good friend (cancer survivor and experienced blogger) told me, "The blog is for you; blog if you want, take a break when you want."  So I'm taking his advice and not letting myself feel guilty.

I've had three sessions of chemo now, one every two weeks delivered on a Friday morning, and my body's reaction to each has been different.  The first time, I didn't know what to expect, and it was a totally weird experience.  Neuropathy was the strangest part, a tingling in my hands and face.  We walked out of the Gonda building to a clear 65 degree day, and I felt raindrops hitting my hand.  I looked up...no clouds...strange.  A few seconds later, more raindrops, this time on my chin.  I looked up again, thinking a cooling tower on a nearby building must be throwing spray...nope.  When we got into an elevator and the "rain" continued, I knew I was in for a strange ride.

Well, the weather is not in the 60s anymore, and the tingling is more than a couple of raindrops.  For those who have never experienced it (and I sincerely pray you never do), it's the feeling you get when your hands "fall asleep"...pins and needles, times 10 and somebody is slapping your hands.  If my hands get chilled, even in my office, the pins and needles kicks in and sometimes the muscles in my hands lock up.   More than once, someone has stepped into my office to see me reading my Bible with my hands in an electric warmer.  I've been to Fleet Farm to buy the hand warmers that hunters use and that helps.

Fortunately, I haven't had to deal with much nausea, but the fatigue is absolutely inescapable.  I usually get home from the Friday treatment by noon, then I'm mostly out of commission until Tuesday.  Nothing can be done about it, and I'm grateful it isn't any worse or longer than it is.

On my "good" weeks, I have loved singing in the choir on Sunday morning.  I've been able to turn off the Type A voice in my head that fears some church member sees me up there and thinks to themselves, "Hey, we're not paying that guy to sing in the choir!"  I have received many affirming notes from people when they see me singing, and it has been such fun to rediscover the joy of choral singing without having to wave my arms around (which I've been doing since college days).  I only get to be there every other Sunday, but it is something I really look forward to.  I get to sing in the Christmas musical this year (and if I play my cards right I'll end up sitting next to my favorite alto!!)

I'm grateful to God for the strength I do have when I have it, and for the opportunity to continue working.  The other pastors have been great during this time, taking big chunks of my normal responsibilities on top of their already busy schedules and keeping things going well.  I've been able to reclaim some parts of my job and there are plenty of end-of-year projects to keep me busy.

I find myself playing "mind games" to win the mental battle with cancer.  I've completed three of five pre-Christmas chemo treatments, so that's an accomplishment.  My last treatment for 2010 is Dec 13, then I'll have my eyes set on a follow up "reconstruction" surgery (which I'm actually looking forward to) on Jan 10.  After that, three more sets of "raindrops and fatigue" sessions in Feb/March and I'll be done...whatever "done" means.  I know there will be follow up testing at regular intervals for years to come, but at least the end is in sight for this most invasive phase of overcoming cancer.

Thanks for your continued prayers.  I know you are praying, I can feel it, and you have no idea how encouraging it is to me.