My FB post last Friday seemed to alarm folks. Don’t be alarmed. I am OK - better than you think I am. Here is an honest update on my “symptoms”
· The oncologist says I am definitely experiencing side-effects from the immunotherapy drugs.
· He doesn’t want to treat the side-effects or change the drugs because we are too early in the process.
· He hopes they will subside with time. They might, but they might not.
· He encouraged me to “pucker up and persevere”.
I am actually OK with that. As long as I know, then I can make this work. The good news is that I am having side-effects of healing, not side-effects of dying! For 5-8 hours a day I feel pretty bad (isn’t that a funny term – “pretty”+”bad”); but it is because I am getting better. Something is working. I think it is “prayerdietmedicine”. Ultimately, God is working, and I am grateful.
For the past 7 days I get really tired around 2pm. Exhausted. Then around 5pm or so I start feeling like I am coming down with the flu. By bedtime I have aches and chills, and am running a fever (101F). About 2:30 or 3:00am the fever breaks. I perspire about a gallon of sweat, get up change my soaking wet bed clothes, go back to sleep, and wake up at 6:30am feeling great. It has been like that for 7 days. Not coincidentally, 7 days ago was my first immunotherapy treatment.
I am learning that I can reduce the aches and fever by taking Tylenol preemptively. My PCP (primary care provider) and I are playing around with a low-risk medication to see if that might ease my tiredness and weakness. My daughter and son-in-law bought me a new couch, so that I can have a nicer place to rest when I am at home. And you are praying for me. What a blessing.
I wish I were still asymptomatic. In a way, I still am. We don’t think these are symptoms of cancer, but of drugs. The bottom line is this: I am doing OK. Not so “OK” that I don’t need your prayers, but more “OK” than should warrant fears that I am on my way down. I am weak, but on my way up…if that makes sense.
Thank you for praying for me. I had strength. Maybe your prayers were stronger than needed. I ended up preaching for 57 minutes. Fifty-seven minutes! 3 minutes short of an hour! (Yikes!!!) I was exhausted when I finished, and so was everyone else. It was not a great sermon, either. I have asked that it not be published. I expect to preach again. If it turns out to be my last sermon, it is not the one I want to be remembered by. And if I get to preach again (I fully expect to), I don’t want my future sermons judged by last week’s less than stellar monologue.
I fear that I frightened many folks by my comment about it being “my last time for a while”. That actually had to do with the fact that our church only meets together 12 times per year. The rest of the time we meet in homes. There are 5-6 of us who tend to preach, and Sunday was my 2nd time in three months. My rotation probably won’t come up again until next spring. (After preaching for 57 minutes, the popular vote might be to take me off of the schedule altogether!)
The real issue is that I had strength, I appreciated your prayers and concerns, and I felt very loved by the many people who showed up in case it was their last chance to hear me preach.
Please continue to pray for me. Pray for me to be able regain strength and stamina. Pray for me to embrace the new normal, and the new role that God has for me in this season. And pray that I learn better than someone who will remain un-named that one should be thoughtful about what one tweets or posts on social media.
In Christ’s love,