Celebrations and Hauntings
It’s been a long 6.5 weeks. The schedule for radiation was grueling and quite frankly annoying. Radiation required that Davis not eat or drink in the morning until after our appointment, because he was put under anesthesia every day. It consumed our mornings either packing up for the hospital, or staying by Davis’ side so he didn’t sneak in any water or breakfast. Sometimes our appointments weren’t until 11:45 , so it made for long days. Throughout the past 6 weeks his Chemo schedule continued alongside Radiation. There were two weeks where every day we went to both hospitals. Through it all Davis was such a strong boy. He wasn’t happy about the schedule, yet he was resilient and continued to change his attitude and heart to make it as tolerable as possible. He got the job done!
Because our prayers have been answered, we have made it through without any significant skin break down. We are praising God that so far, his skin’s response has been manageable and not painful. The biggest physical side effect we have been battling is nausea. Radiating your entire abdomen is really hard on your organs, and causes significant nausea. He has decreased how much he eats over the weeks, and thus has dropped in weight. Buddy Boy gets to eat whatever he wants whenever he wants. We are hopeful now radiation is over, in two weeks we will see an increase in his appetite.
As we went to todays’ final appointment I noticed I had to choose to celebrate it. Funny thing, I’ve never experienced resistance to celebration. Lance always teases me that I have a “birthmonth” celebration, rather than just a birthday celebration. I’ve always wanted to do special things to honor milestones, birthdays, even “just because” celebrations. Today’s celebration was different, just like every experience I’ve had since Davis was diagnosed, different. I have anticipated today and tried to think of what we should do. I bought a cake yesterday, but couldn’t bring myself to go to the party store to get streamers and party hats. I woke up this morning and my mind was racing that I should get him balloons, he loves balloons, so I left and bought them at Fry’s at 7:30 AM. Today was worth celebrating because with everything Davis has been through, this is his first “last” in the process, our first time completing an aspect of his treatment. We are so thankful for that “win”. My celebration also comes with mourning that he even has to endure this, that he was ever diagnosed, and fervent prayers against long term effects of radiation on his body. The Radiologist came in to celebrate with us that it’s his last treatment. She said congratulations, and then continued to let us know what his life long follow up process will be with Mayo. Ugh. We discussed how often we will be back to monitor him, looking for side effects, scar tissue, growth delays, walking complications, and of course possible future cancer. So my gratitude for today’s final appointment also comes with the reminder of how cancer has changed my sons life forever. How cancer has changed my life forever.
When these celebrations come I am committed to taking the time to celebrate. We all need to notice the good amidst the bad, and even if Davis doesn’t fully understand what we are celebrating, my family does and our hearts need it. In these celebrations I am also reminded of the haunting that is Cancer. Cancer lurks behind my every move. So even in the midst of celebration, I’m sitting in mourning, tearful even, over this life. Cancer is a haunting that will follow me wherever I go, even celebrations of victory. Cancer and I are getting acquainted with one another, but I’m not fully sure what to do with this new haunting yet.
We all have hauntings, something from our story that we carry with us everywhere we go, either consciously or unconsciously. We have experiences in our past that form how we show up in our lives today. For some of you it’s past wounds from spouses, childhood trauma, medical sufferings, betrayal, or even familial wounds. I would encourage you to turn around and look your hauntings straight in the eye. Being blind to our hauntings, often times, perpetuates more wounding in ourselves and those we love.
Cancer is a new haunting that will be with me for a long time. To have ignored this haunting today would have meant pretending that it wasn’t there. The haunting of Cancer is fear of the future unknown. We will live our next years always wondering if/when cancer will show its ugly evil face again in our lives. Today’s celebration was in many ways a reminder of this haunting. I can either try to ignore it, or turn around and look it straight in the eye. In Christ I know I can look at any part of my hauntings and still be ok, because I am beloved, nurtured, loved. So I slowly look at it, acknowledge it’s there, even in the midst of celebrations. Today our celebration also came with tears. That’s ok. I felt the Lord’s presence throughout the day. He is with us and for us. I praise Him for giving us the strength to endure these past 6.5 weeks, and that is worth celebrating. To Him be the Glory!