I was really hopeful about this last treatment, which was last Tuesday (August 27). The 10 days prior to my treatment were the best days I have had in 3 months. I felt normal, and even felt like I was getting some strength back.
I saw my oncologist before my treatment. He confirmed that the reactions I had after the previous 2 treatments were reactions to the drugs and not symptoms of cancer. He also said that I am his only patient who has EVER had these kinds of reactions to these typically benign drugs. The good news is that I am still asymptomatic – definitely a product of God hearing the prayers of many and acting on my behalf. Doctor P prescribed some pre-meds, Tylenol and Benedryl, to be dripped in prior to the immunotherapy drugs. After Treatment 2, I got sick within 2 hours. This time I felt good for next 9 hours. Around bedtime I started feeling crummy. No fevers. No night sweats. Just muscle and joint aches and a mild headache.
I took Tuesday and Wednesday off. Wednesday I slept most of the day, very unusual for me, and felt pretty bad. Still no fever or night sweats. I just felt “wrong”. It is hard to describe. I tried going to work last Thursday and Friday, but was only able to stay at the office for a few hours. By Friday night I felt really sick – mid-grade fever, head and body aches, night sweats. Saturday was worse. When I went to bed Saturday night I had +102F and felt like I had been run over by a truck. When I got up Sunday morning, my temperature was 96F. I had a 6+ degree swing in temperature overnight, and I was wrung out. The night sweats were terrible.
Today is Monday, Labor Day. I still feel messed up. I am hoping that by tomorrow, Day 8, I will start feeling human again.
I had to miss a good friend’s wedding in Texas on Saturday. I am a week or two behind on critical issues at work. I don’t feel like reading, being on the computer (one reason I haven’t given any updates), or going anywhere. I am grumpy. (Victoria can confirm that!) If you are reading this, you are probably praying for me. I can’t imagine what this would be like without the prayer covering.
Prayer covering. That is funny term. In reality, God covers us. Prayer is one thing that moves God to act. I don’t fully understand that, but I think it has to do with God inviting us into His work.
A friend visited this week, and asked“What has God been teaching to you through this?”Hmmm. I don’t really think about “this” that way. But I am experiencing God in a wonderful way - most days. I guess one thing that has hit me is that I am not the center of the universe. Big surprise. Even my cancer is a gift – more to you guys than to me. My cancer has moved thousands of people to pray for me. Thousands. People are praying for me, exercising and growing in faith and dependency on God because of my situation. So I thank God for His gift to you of my cancer. And I thank God for his gift to me of your prayers, which makes me feel immersed in community, love, and in special grace being shown to me as the product of your prayers and faith. If you are praying for me, please don’t stop.
Speaking of covering, my friend, Shantelle, told a friend of hers at her church about me. Her friend had cancer a while back, and had to go through chemotherapy. (Chemotherapy is 100 times worse than what I am going through!) Her friend used to take a red blanket to her infusions to keep her warm. It became a reminder to her how God demonstrated his love for us by Christ dying for us, even though we were weak and unfriendly to God. Christ’s death was the answer for our failures, our guilt, an emptiness and lack of meaning, and for our sicknesses and sorrows. The red blanket reminded her of his blood, a testimony of his provision and love. She beat cancer by God’s grace.
So she started a “red blanket” ministry. I don’t know much about it. I think it is a word-of-mouth thing. What I do know is that after Shantelle told her about me I got a handwritten, personal card from her that let me know that she knew my situation and story, and a promise that she and her prayer group were dedicated to pray for me through this fight. Then a day or two later, I got a package with a red blanket.
FYI – I can’t stand fakes and swindlers who send appeals to vulnerable people with promises of miracles through their “prayer cloths”. I may get in trouble with some of you, but I’m not really into “prayer shawls”, though I think they are different than the charlatans who sell prayer cloths. I guess prayer shawls carry some value for some people. It is not my.
But I was really moved by this. There was no appeal for money. There was a genuinely personal card that was written with love and respect. And the blanket is really nice! I am a big guy, and it is big enough for me. And because there were no strings attached, and there is someone on the other side who understands some of what I am going through, my blanket has come to remind me of how much Father loves me, too. The blanket is not healing me, but it is comforting in multiple ways. It is a truly selfless act of love and generosity, and I appreciate it.
I’ve thought a lot about healing as a community thing. I will write about that soon. Thanks for being part of God’s healing community for me. I am grateful for your prayers, emails and visits.
FYI, my email and phone number were hacked and stolen this weekend, so I won’t be able to receive texts for a few days. (It has been a tough week!)