This isn’t Kansas anymore, Toto.

The past week has been…. intense.

It started last Monday with a 5 hour infusion at the hospital.

To give you an idea of the toxicity of the drugs I am receiving, the nurse wears elbow length rubber gloves, a face mask and a full body gown just to handle the drugs in their bags. The drugs don’t at any time leave their bags except to enter my body through a tube. So, while the nurses go to great care to protect themselves from any kind of exposure to the drugs, they freely pump me full of them. If that wasn’t enough to add a few more grey hairs to the scalp, further research revealed that chemotherapy has its origins in chemical warfare. It was discovered by accident during World War Two when doctors were performing autopsies on soldiers killed with mustard gas and over the years has been developed and refined into the treatment I am receiving now.

This is serious business. They’re actually killing parts of my body to get to the tumors.

There is one word that I think describes Chemotherapy…..

Violent.

I actually felt ok the day of and the day after my initial infusion, though a little queasy. I even did a full day’s work the day after.

But the next day…. that’s when I got hit. Nausea, vomiting, fever, sweating, dehydration and, your friend and mine…. diarrhoea. I also had the hiccups for 15 hours straight.

So I drive myself from the edit suite to the hospital to see the Oncology nurse.

(Mental note: Don’t drive when about to pass out. I’m sure it voids something in the fine print on my insurance policy.)

Arrive at the hospital, nurses look horrified and I’m immediately admitted to the ER, then, following a variety of tests I am told I’m not going home and am moved to my own room for the night. Small mercies… my own room with a sunset view out over Sydney Harbour. But I still want to go home.

No, you’re staying put.

Hospital is all about waiting…. and it’s hard to stay positive when your mind has such a dull environment to go wild in. Suffice to say it was not a pleasant night for me, despite the stunning view out my window. My mind continually wandered to Rachel, Cody and Jakob. In the loneliness and darkness the fear begins to talk to me…. mocking me. My mind is beseiged by all sorts of fatalistic imagery and the tears come like a flood.

Then something clicks inside me.

No.

It is written….

Isaiah 53:3 (The Message)

He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.

Through his bruises I get healed.

Through his bruises I get healed.

Through his bruises I get healed.

And then the room is flooded with peace and I sleep.

The next day I’m told that the doctors believe I have picked up a bug or infection of some kind. Chemotherapy messes up the immune system and while I am receiving infusions I will be vulnerable. This just happened to be “really bad luck” according to my Oncologist. Future infusions should not affect me so badly. I’m kept another day to be safe and them sent home on Friday afternoon. When I get home, Cody is at kindergarten and Jakob is super happy to see me and we have the most awesome cuddles on the couch. Every second is treasure beyond words.

I can now feel a seismic shift going on inside of me. It’s one thing to say “I will fight this” when it’s just a diagnosis on paper. It’s another thing entirely to sustain that focus while you’re in the thick of the battle, bleeding from the fury of the fight. This fight is as much physical as it is emotional and spiritual. You can’t stare into the face of your own mortality and walk away without being profoundly and irreversibly changed.

This is as real as it gets.

My body will survive this assassination attempt, of that I am sure, but the old Kristian, the pre-cancer me, is dead.

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~ by Kristian Anderson on November 3, 2009.

5 Responses to “This isn’t Kansas anymore, Toto.”

  1. Hey bro,

    That’s some rough chemo times!! What regime are they hitting you with? If the nurses/doctors didnt tell you, the hiccups are from nausea. That was what got me a few times, lying in bed till the small hours not being able to sleep because of the incessant hiccuping. It’s to do with irritation of the diaphragm. The best way to I found to avoid it was to restrict my food intake, particularly during the days immediately post infusion, and to make sure I dosed up well on the anti-emetics.

    Having said all of that, chemo hits us all differently, and everyone responds in their own way. I get my second portacath stuck in this Monday, and presumably my second lot of chemo will start in the week or two after that. Reading your blog makes me remember how much I’m not actually looking forward to it.

    Keep fighting bro, and keep God in the thick of it all. He is an amazing source of strength.

    Take care.

  2. “I felt the touch of loneliness
    I felt the trail of fear
    I found the path of wisdom
    Along the trail of tears..”

    “Tears my son, are often the telescope through which men see heaven.”

    “Sunlight poured from His face. His clothes filled with light. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes…. A voice from the cloud said:- ‘This is My Son, marked by My love, focus of My delight. LISTEN TO HIM.” Matt 17:2-3;5B Much love, mum xx

  3. Please keep writing Kristian, it helps us direct prayer rather than just a general thing. You’ve got a long way to go, but God promised He would never leave you nor forsake you, He is ever present in a time of need. Your time is now, and He’s right in the room with you.

  4. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness 2 Corinthians 12.9

    I know this is not easy, but keep taking it one step at a time and know that you are not alone in this.

    We love you guys and continue to stand with you.

  5. I am speechless by your ability to stay focussed on your fight and getting through it, no doubt. But also with your ability to take me there as if it were my own battle. Perhaps it’s cause we both share some amazing things – two boys the exact same age, a wonderful supportive life partner and friend, and a tough but merciful God who loves us even when we let him down. Make no mistake you are in my prayers (BTW we also pray for Uncle Kris every now and then when saying Grace) and thoughts often but I particularly wanted you to know that you are by default making me extremely thankful for my family, my salvation, and that a simple life is an abundant life. Thanks Kris. One day we will walk those streets of gold and look back on all of this. Chat again.

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