I’d been putting it off all day. I needed to call the Oncology ward and find out my latest blood test results but was, quite frankly, afraid to do so after the last few weeks of increased cancer activity (as evidenced by the rise in my CEA 19.9 markers). I know putting it off achieves nothing. The results will be what they will be and delaying the phone call to find out makes no difference. But when you’re dealing with issues of life and death, your own life and death, sometimes you look for any way of delaying what might possibly be bad news.
I slept most of the day, as I did for most of Saturday and Sunday too, and by 4pm figured I should stop putting it off… so I rang.
I spoke to one of my nurses and she told me she was just about to call me with the results. There was a split second where I couldn’t tell whether the news was going to be good or bad. I feel like I know my nurses pretty well by now, after 10 months of chemo, but sometimes interpreting their tone of voice is not always easy. Especially if they’re busy at the time. There’s a lot of checking and re-checking involved in administering cyto-toxic drugs. Patient ID numbers must be checked against the date of birth, which must be checked against Medicare numbers, etc, etc. Once the written checks are done the verbal ones begin. Name? Date of birth? Needle size? They get very busy and have to maintain intense concentration levels, so sometimes it’s hard to figure out which way the ‘news’ is going to go.
Thankfully, my nurse followed it up with “I think I’m going to make your day”.
But how much? That’s always the question.
As it turns out, my cancer markers have decreased 10% since last week, without another infusion in between.
This is good news. It means that the drugs are taking control of the cancer again. Granted they’re the heavy duty kind of drugs that really mess me up. The ones that make me feel like a hollow shell. The ones that make it difficult to move without waves of nausea. The ones that make me incredibly sensitive to the cold. The ones that turn me from Jekyll to Hyde…. but they’re working.
So I won’t complain. Even though I’m just so tired of feeling this way, both physically and emotionally, there is an awful lot to be thankful for.
And that’s the thing. Through all of this… crap… that cancer brings with it and for all the damage it does to my body, my mind, my intellect…. there is still gold that can be found along the way.
A good friend of mine recently described this as not a journey or an experience, but as an odyssey.
Odyssey being defined as:
“A long journey during which many things happen.
A person’s progress from one stage of life or set of beliefs to another.”
And he was right.
There is nothing simple about this ride. No easy trip from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’. It is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever had to endure in my 35 years on this earth. And even though I’m young and strong, well… it’s still hard…. and I long for the day it is over.
The day that my odyssey ends.
The day my Doctor looks at me with a hint of disbelief and tells me there is no evidence of disease in my body.
The day I see with my eyes what I already see with my heart.
Thankfully, there is someone who has already walked this road before me…. someone who was “familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3) and acquainted with sorrow.
I can’t see what’s up ahead, though I desperately look for any kind of sign. So I keep my head down, focusing on the footprints of Him who has gone before me.
Though the way is rough and steep, it is the path to the One I seek…. And I must go on.
I’ll follow in the path of the man with the nail scars in his hands.