Calling All Angels

We recently had a family holiday in New Zealand these past few weeks. Rachel and the boys headed over on a Sunday and I joined them the following Wednesday after another chemotherapy session. The boys love going to NZ as they get to see their two younger cousins as well as their Nana and Poppa and uncles and aunties. It’s also an incredibly valuable time for Rachel to recharge and just be in a familiar place with people who know her best.

We went down to a little beachside town called Onemana (pronounced Oh-Knee-Mah-Nah) which is near the town of Whangamata (pronounced Fung-Ah-Ma-Tah) for a weekend away with all of Rachel’s brothers and sister and their husbands and wives and kids. It was pretty crowded. Our little family stayed in the converted garage which is separated from the main house by a 20 foot walkway while everyone else stayed in the main house.

So after dinner one night it’s bedtime for Cody and Jakob. They say goodnight to everyone and we take them to our room where they watch a movie on the portable TV/DVD combo we bought for the times when we travel (soon to be replaced with an iPad). It doesn’t take long until both boys are crashed out and sleeping peacefully, usually, so we put them into bed, said our prayers and lay with them for a bit while they started to doze. After a while we headed back inside to join the rest of the gang… me first, then Rachel. As usual, one of us goes back in periodically to check on them to make sure everything is ok. It was my turn this time so off I went thinking everything would be fine.

It wasn’t.

Somehow, after trying to get back to the main house and deciding it was too dark and scary to walk the 20 feet between dwellings, both boys had locked themselves in the ensuite bathroom and were crying their little hearts out. When I got inside I found them standing, Cody up front and Jakob clinging to Cody’s leg, terrified and sobbing.

“Daddy, we couldn’t find you! We were lonely”, Cody sobbed. “Yeah”, Jakob replied through teary eyes. I knelt down in front of them and they ran into my arms, their little bodies heaving. I wrapped my arms around them and told them everything was alright now, Daddy was here. Cody again looked into my eyes and said: “We called out for you but you didn’t come. We were all alone”. And then it hit me…. and I started softly crying with them. I crumpled into them as much as they had crumpled into me. Rach came in right about then and we all hugged and explained to Mummy what had happened. I was still fighting tears as we climbed back into bed and rubbed their backs and played with their hair to settle them back down. We stayed with them until they fell asleep.

As the days since that moment have passed I have had something gnawing at my insides, like something just isn’t right. I’ve been playing the scene over and over in my head and the memory of their little faces, sad and afraid, upsets me deeply. And the other day it hit me.

Cody is incredibly intelligent and has a large vocabulary. He knows words and is very capable of expressing himself clearly in most situations. What has absolutely shaken me are the words he used to tell me what was wrong…. “we were lonely”…. “we couldn’t find you”…. “we were all alone”.

And I realised… this is what they will say if I die.

And the worst part is I won’t be able to put my arms around them and tell them that Daddy is here, it’s going to be alright… and we won’t have big family hugs where the boys are comforted and reassured that Mummy and Daddy love them very much and are here to protect them… and that will be the way it is for them for the rest of their lives. While I will pass instantly into eternity, where there is no sadness or pain or sorrow or fear, Cody, Jakob and Rachel will live out their days on earth, full and productive, but with a sadness buried deep inside them. Beautiful little boys, growing up into fine young men, without their father. Rachel forging on, without her husband and friend… and it kills me inside to think of it.

And as I sat down in the oncology ward to receive my 30th infusion yesterday, I again sat down with one purpose:

To fight.

Fighting for my life. Fighting for my wife and sons.

As I unbuttoned my shirt, as the 3/4 inch needle went into my port, as the saline went in and the blood came out, as the Erbitux made it’s way into my body where it was to do battle with my cancer, as the clock on the wall reminded me how long it all takes… every week… the fight.

Every second of burning, itching, and mutated skin…. the fight. Every damaged nerve ending… the fight. Every hour hunched over the toilet bowl, puking my guts out… the fight. Every scar, every incision… the fight. Every time I see Death standing in my bedroom doorway at night…. the fight.

John Mayer sings:

“Come out angels, come out ghosts
Come out darkness, bring everyone you know.
I’m not running and I’m not scared,
I am waiting and well prepared.

… I’m in the war of my life, at the core of my life
Got no choice but to fight ’til its done…. so fight on.”

And so I do… until the cancer is dead… or I am.

And there will be casualties along the way.

Because that’s how it is in a war.

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~ by Kristian Anderson on April 28, 2011.

40 Responses to “Calling All Angels”

  1. I’m in tears. I don’t know what to say. It’s true that when you are no longer on this earth you will be sorely missed. I hope for you and Rachel and your boys that this will be far into the future. I just need to believe that you are telling them all how much you love them over and over and that these words will be their memories and be their comfort when your arms cannot.

  2. I’ll see if I can put something coherent together through all these tears. You know, I don’t have cancer, but I still have those same fears. My almost-3-year-old is a mama’s boy, and there are many times a week I’m the only one who can comfort him. I’d be lying if I said I never thought, “What if I wasn’t here to comfort him?” Sometimes I think we are all in a big fight, a fight to live long lives. Life seems more fragile than it ever did before, maybe that’s an attribute of being a parent? A friend of mine said to me one day, “We all have a magic number above our heads, and no one knows what that number is.” Whether it’s illness, or an accident, something we know is coming or something unforeseen…it is something we have very little control over.

    You must know that in your words you write, the videos you make, the memories you share with Rachel and the boys, you will live on forever, even when your body is no longer here. But as a fellow parent, I know that is very little comfort when thinking about the possibility of never being able to hold your family again.

    God speed to you.

    • Hi my name is Karin and I live in Thames, New Zealand. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer with secondary gone into the bone which is apparently the most painful types of cancer. I also have a port and have weekly chemo and once a month bone infusion. I know how u feel.
      I am most probably a little older than you with 3 young adult girls. Tammy is still in year 11 at school, Sasha second year at Uni in Hamilton and Kirsty still living in SA. I feel desperate to see them growing up, getting married and having grand children. I am also blessed with a very caring, helpful and supporting husband, Steve.
      Haneke, a friend told me about you and I must say reading your battle also inspires me to fight and never to give up hope and to trust God all the time. I thank God every day for today and then make the most of the day.
      The scripture that comes to me is proverbs 3 vs 8. Trusting Me brings health to your body and nourishment to your bones.
      I will keep you and your family in my prayers.
      Kind regards
      Karin

  3. You have touched my heart from the get go. Through tears i read this. please keep fighting, you give faith to some that have none, you give hope to those who have little.

    What cancer cannot do
    It cannot cripple Love.
    It cannot shatter Hope.
    It cannot corrode Faith.
    It cannot destroy Peace.
    It cannot kill Friendship.
    It cannot suppress Memories.
    It cannot silence Courage.
    It cannot invade the Soul.
    It cannot steal eternal Life.
    It cannot conquer the Spirit.

  4. I am a father of 3 and was in tears reading this. I imagined my kids and if it was me. I also was thinking of all my non christian family and friends and what will happen to them in the end. I am constantly praying for you and your family. I thank you for opening you life to the world. You are brave for what you are going through.

  5. Once again, hugs and love and prayers sent your way. If anyone can win this fight, it’s you. All the way across the ocean, you’re always in my thoughts. God Bless.

  6. I completely understand this post. I remember my mother telling me she just wanted to live long enough to see me happily married, with children. She just made it, dying when my son was six weeks old.
    I would get angry that she had such a short-term “goal” but now, as a mom myself, I understand. She wanted me to be well on my way in life with a supportive spouse and the distraction of having busy kids to help ease my loss.
    I truly think you have the fight in you to change the course of this cancer. Dear, you have people all over the world on your team.

  7. I know how it feels like to grow up without a father. Mine left too soon… And even though I am lucky to have the greatest mother on the planet, sometimes I feel that emptiness in my heart. Keep fighting for your family, Kristian. Always. My prayers are with you.

  8. Words fail me.My heart aches for you.Kristian you can fight this.When you are just too tired,hang on and feel us praying for you and sending love.

  9. Hi, I read your blog all the time.. the reason my dad had cancer, and for me it’s looking at the other side of the coin, I can tell you this, he had cancer 10 years ago, they gave him a death sentence and he is still here, since then he has had 4 more “death sentences” from other mayor medical problems; the last one less than a year ago and again still here still fine, even back to work and more successful than ever… But I know the fear, the fear of death, I have lived with that since the first time he got sick more than 10 years ago, every night when I go to bed, every morning as I wake up the fear is there, what if this is it, the day, the last day; I now have a son, I want him to remember his grandfather and the man he is.
    I wish you and your family the best, I know how hard it is, but I also know the time they do have with you (however long it is) is the most precious gift you can give them, every memory you create now is priceless, every time you are feeling awful but still manage to lift your head up and give them a smile, that smile will stay with them.
    My dad has taught me a lot of things, but the best teaching has been watching him fight for us, it means a lot, it means everything.

  10. Fight on, Kristian, with fearless approach to the battle. We are with you, thinking of you, sending healing energy to you. Sending love, strength and battle cries of the Spirit to you and your precious ones…

  11. Your writing is becoming more and more powerful; I am in tears. I think this is the first time I’ve known your son’s names, which I can now put to the impossibly beautiful little faces on the birthday video. Cody and Jakob have received the greatest cosmic gift – kind, loving parents – which will empower them throughout their lives and ultimately make the world a better place. For that I thank you and Rachel, and in return send every kind of healing energy I can, and my prayers.

  12. At 33 I am both a cancer survivor and lost my dad to cancer 4 years ago..i am in tears reading this…if i could take your burden I would because i know the pain of both sides…your faith and fight is awe inspiring…yes there would be an empty spot in your family’s heart if you were gone….but there would be if you left this earth when your 29 or 99….keep fighting!!! All those you touch, will touch, and have touched are lifting you in prayer ❤ Much love and strength coming your way from the US!!!

  13. Kristian, we will help you in your fight by praying and keeping your name before the Lord.

  14. I pray for you and your beautiful family every day. Keep on fighting for them and for all of us who are completely inspired by you. We are all behind you.

  15. Hi, You know I have been following this for a while, nothing I can offer will even begin to help in your battle with this illness, the love you have for your family is what we all sometimes perhaps take for granted, I would like to share with you a clip with you, and others, a friend of mine from Carnegie Mellon posted this a couple of years ago and I have been watching it ever since, it is called the Last Lecture and whilst I know you have better things to do with an 104 mins but if you have the time please click on the link and watch. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5700431505846055184#

  16. You are a very talented writer, and have the ability to have me smiling one minute, and weeping the next. Please consider writing a book…it would be a gift to us all. Your inspiring journey gives all of us hope, thank you-

  17. My thoughts and prayers are with you, keep up the good fight!

  18. Very beautiful! Those boys are so lucky and will know it no matter what happens. Keep Fighting! You’re Ultimate Viewer friend!

  19. Keep fighting the fight.
    … because you are right, the “other” side of the picture is ugly.
    I should know …. my kids and I are living it.

  20. I am speechless. Fight on warrior Kristian, I’m praying for you all the way from Canada!!!!

  21. I am remembering you in prayer. Please, please do not give up your fight for life, for your wife, for your boys. I pray to God Almighty that He have tender mercies on you and preserve your life for years and years to come. You are a beacon of hope and strength for everyone reading this blog. I have been following you in your battle and praying for over a year now. Dear God, please spare Kristian’s life. To God be all the Glory! 🙂 Praise Him! 🙂

  22. you are an inspiration. thanks for the most incredible post x fight!
    Love Sonia x

  23. Keep fighting my friend. You are an inspiration to all of us.

  24. yes indeed – keep fighting – and praying. As I was reading this post, I immediately thought of you crying to OUR FATHER and Him putting His whole spirit around you…….keep fighting….and praying.
    the Grandma from North Carolina with non hodgkins……

  25. At 40 I am a cancer survivor and I still share these fears. I have two boys aged 5 and 6 and I was diagnosed when the youngest was just 3 months old. Every single day I look at my sleeping boys and remember the promise I made them: I WILL be there when you graduate from uni. Why uni? Because then I feel I have set them up for life and they will be ready to make their own life. Ofcourse I want to be a part of that too: I want to see them married and make me some grandkids 🙂 And I will!
    I guess every parent has this same fear. I try to let my boys know that I will ALWAYS be there, in their hearts. And you Kristian, have immortalized yourself not only in their hearts, but also in your words. I wish you everything you could possibly wish for.

    love from the Netherlands

  26. Hi Christian, As I read your son’s words, I thought, Gosh! This is what I say to GOD all the time…I’m lost…I can’t find You…I called out for You and You didn’t come…I’m lonely. Yet God IS there, all the time and He IS the ONE to come running back to me with open arms. GOD is NOT going to leave you EVER…You may feel sad and scared and alone (and understandably so, of course!) but the Father will NOT leave you. I could never be as brave as you; you have helped me in my life so much with your words. I only post this to maybe show you a different way to interpret what happened so that you can smile! With much love, Mary K.

  27. Hi Kristian,

    Your words just go straight to my heart – I am so sorry for the sadness that you feel. Never forget that there are so many praying fervently for you and your sweet family. Never forget that God will provide for you and your family – I know he loves you so much and can only imagine how much love and compassion he feels towards you during these very difficult moments. You, are a true example to me ~ Thank you so much.

    My constant prayers are with you and your family.

  28. Keep fighting..Our merciful Lord is journeying with you. I am praying for you complete healing!

  29. Kristian

    I was reading John 9 today getting ready for Sunday’s sermon. I saw your youtube video and have been to the blog several times since. Reading John 9 reminded me again of you. “…so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Keep fighting. The Lord is with you.

  30. Kristian, you are so clear and generous with your experience. I’m working with Beat Bowel Cancer Aotearoa in NZed and I wonder, would you and Rachel be interested in helping us with our campaign? It’s June 6-12. You probably know the stats, but over here there’s a 100 people shuffling off this mortal coil a month from bowel cancer. We’re trying to save 70% of them through early detection. You can contact at the details provided. Meantime, I’ve never known a blogger to mainline their experience to people so successfully. you are an incredible writer. Thank you for sharing your stories

  31. This post brought me to tears. Warmest and deepest prayers from Virginia, USA.

  32. Hi Kristian,
    As this is the only way I know how to contact you,I just wanted to say I saw our Health Minister on the channel 10 show called “The Circle” today talking about the budget, and Yumi asked her about the bowel cancer treatment drug Erbitux.My undersatanding of what she said was, it wasnt in the Budget because it has to go through a few more of their processes,advisary panels or testing its affectiveness or something like that but,if approved,it didnt have to wait until the next Budget to have it listed on the PBS.
    For people reading this that dont know about it, you have all the links and info on your Blog under “Many Hands” April
    but here is the link for us to push hard for this drug to get on the PBS now/soon.
    “Link to The Hon Nicola Roxon MP contact details
    http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-central.htm

    Good luck and all those that have benefited from the drug or want the drug , please let the Minister Hon Nicola Roxon know by email or fax by getting the contact details on the link above.

  33. Each time I read your blog it inspires me beyond earthly words. You are a young man who is further along in his faith and has more insight than most people like me manage to acquire in a lifetime. You always make me want to do and be better at viewing this life around us. I honestly can’t begin to imagine how fiery this ordeal has been for you and your family. But in the midst of the fire, it is very evident to all of us that you are not in the furnace alone. We can see the figure of Another walking in the midst of the blaze with you and His distinctive mark of craftsmanship is unmistakable on your life. Each time you post, the rate at which He appears to be shaping and molding you is exponential. Thank you for using your incredible gift of writing to encourage someone like me, a person far too weak in character to ever be chosen to walk a road such as yours – or so I would hope. Be encouraged and fight on, my brother. You remain in my prayers. Give your sweet boys an extra hug from an old lady In Texas.

  34. In Sunday School this morning we were studying the book of James and discussing faith. What it means to believe in God and what it means to have faith in God. I’d never thought about the possbility of believing without having faith. Yet countless people believe that God exists yet don’t walk with Him in faith.
    The kind of faith that you live out daily in everything that you do. The kind of faith that cancer challenges. The kind of faith that “deep down in your knowing place” tells you that up until the moment you take your last breath, whenever that may be, God IS capable of healing you.

    I am praying in faith that He does just that. Here on earth. I’m also praying for you and your sweet family to remain strong in your faith. To continue fighting. Your testimony is far reaching. Thank you for that.

    Praying for strength, provision, healing, and blessings beyond measure.

    In Him…Jen from Mississippi, USA.

  35. That is the 4 Noble Truths – that all human existence is about suffering.

    Your experience is not unique to you. Everybody suffers the pain of being hurt, the pain of being separated from your loved ones and the pain of coping with death in the family.

    Nobody is an immortal, nobody lives forever and nobody is exempted from suffering. As there is life, so there is death. This is the cycle of life. This is nature in action. This is the acceptance of impermanence.

    So, develop equanimity, compassion and non-attachment. And cultivate in this life to be reborn in Amitabah’s Pure Land paradise, where there is no suffering, no ignorance, no self…

  36. Hi Kristian, Rachel and the boys.

    I have just spent my Sunday afternoon, watching some Oprah re-runs on Diva TV here in the UK.

    One of those programmes was the recent trip that Oprah had taken to Australia, and of course the beautiful and courageous story of you and your family.

    How one cannot be touched by your story, and your love for each other, I do not know. I expect for those who have seen it, or read about it, there is not one of them whose heart has not been touched.

    So I decided to go online, to see how you are doing – typical Nurse. albeit now retired!

    I have found your website and have read with complete interest your posts.

    But as you have not written anything since April, I was just hoping that you are okay and that just a busy life has kept you away from your writing and thoughts.

    Please know that you are all in my prayers and thoughts.

    Never give up!

    Pamela

  37. Hi

    Is everything OK we havent heard from you for ages.

    Thinking great thoughts for you.

    Tim

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