I go in for round four of my chemotherapy tomorrow. To be honest I don’t want to go. Not because I don’t want to get better but because the path to getting better makes me feel pretty damn crappy for about a week. It’s a small price to pay, but it’s still a high cost in comparison to say… the flu or a cold. Either of those is treated by some brightly coloured and easily ingested tablets. Not so for my therapy.
I’m not getting any of the side effects the doctors warned me about, which is amazing in and of itself. But it messes with my mind a lot. And I can smell the drugs seeping from my pores the entire week…. and that smell makes me feel physically ill.
I am keen, however, to see the results from my last set of bloods. It’s been two weeks and I’m more than curious.
I’ve had a good week this week. I’ve worked four days out of seven and even established a new client in the process who was very understanding and unbelievably flexible in regards to what weeks I could and could not work. The entire place was so nice to me and so accommodating… I was quite surprised but not so surprised as when one of the designers came into my suite and introduced himself.
We got talking and he asked politely if I could give him some more detail about what I was dealing with in regards to the cancer. Some people feel awkward asking me about it but, truth be told, I have no problem discussing it. It’s not something to be ashamed of. This fight was not of my choosing but as long as it’s here I am most certainly up for it.
Our conversation continued until he asked me if I had “a faith”. To which I replied that yes, I do. I follow Christ. He immediately smiled and said he knew it, just by the way I was talking about my future in the face of a potentially terminal disease. He then asked me if he could pray for me, which I thought was just awesome. So in the quiet of the colour grading suite with nothing but the sound of fans from various pieces of hi-tech gadgetry whirring away in the background, he puts his hand on my stomach and begins to pray. Not a big, loud prayer. He wasn’t trying to conjure anything up. He just quietly asked God to remove the cancer from my body, like he does it every day.
Immediately the room was filled with peace.
I know this peace. I have felt it many times before. It rests on my body like a warm blanket and surrounds me like a soft duvet.
Rest. Comfort. Ease.
It brings all of these and more.
And it got me thinking….
Since being diagnosed with this stupid disease the support and help that has come our way has been nothing short of amazing. For someone like me who often spends a lot of time (happily) on my own, mostly oblivious to the things going on around me, it has impacted me deeply to know that so many people care about what happens to me. Unfortunately though, there have been a handful of comments sent my way that just do not sit well with me.
I know their intentions are good and that they genuinely do care about my well being but when someone says that maybe I should “check my heart” for things like unforgiveness, bitterness and pride or perhaps investigate my family line to see if those things (or worse indiscretions) are buried in my family history, as that may be the cause of my cancer… well…. I’m sorry but I just want to flip you the bird.
I am not being punished here. This cancer has not been placed upon me as the consequences of something I may or may not have done in the past.
My God does not delight in spiteful retribution. If you think he does then maybe we’re not talking about the same God.
I serve a God who has promised me he will never leave me or forsake me. A God from whom I cannot escape, no matter how hard I run the other way at times. A God whose love for me sent him willingly to the most barbaric and painful of deaths…. crucified on a cross….. in my place.
In my place.
John 15:13 says this:
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for another.”
Somehow the concept of someone who willingly died in my place and the idea of that same someone sitting high up in the sky zapping naughty people with terminal diseases just does not gel. Not now, not ever.
When I was first diagnosed I called up one of my best friends and we went out for coffee. He told me he had been praying about the situation the night before and had asked God why this was happening. He felt the answer was this:
John 9:1-5 (The Message)
“Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.”
So while I understand that these people are on my side, the way they’ve gone about expressing it makes me recoil violently.
This idea has been floating around in my head since day one so here it is…. my line in the sand:
When you come to me or my family there is now a dress code in effect. Come to us wearing Faith and Hope and you will be warmly welcomed. Come to us wearing Fear and Doubt and you will be politely asked to leave. This Dress Code will be strictly enforced.
This is quite literally life or death for me.
This is not some Saturday afternoon paintball fun. This is akin to landing on the beaches of Normandy. My enemy has established a strong hold on my body. Not happy to just mess up my bowel, it marched on my liver. Statistically speaking my condition is not a good place to be. For me to entertain the thought of anything other than a victory here is to concede defeat and I may as well go and lay down in a corner somewhere and wait to die.
Let me tell you this now…. I will not lay down.
I will fight this thing until it is dead. The only one dying around here is cancer. Kristian Anderson will die an old man, peacefully, in his sleep.
How do I know this? Because I know who my God is and what I mean to Him.
For anyone who believes that God is a cranky old man, looking to dish out punishment on us poor, unsuspecting mortals, let me tell you now… he is not like that.
Love is not like that.