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Chemo: dose 1, day 1

May 7, 2018

I started an Instagram post, but it was getting too long. Also, since Farrah and Elin have shared a bedroom the last two nights, I’ve found they fall asleep faster if I sit in their room and ignore them, all the while enforcing quiet and rest.

Today was good. It started off well with a hug from my older brother and sister-in-law who were passing through, and seeing the faces of my sister and her family in China. I felt awake and alert. I wore something that made me feel pretty and alive. Something red per my style school prompt for the day.

Then we dropped the girls off and were heading to the doctor. I had bought the Book of Common Prayer with me because a dear friend had sent me a prayer from there last week, and I wanted to read it again. I was feeling tears at the back of my eyes, and then started crying. I’m not completely sure why. I was and am afraid of chemotherapy and what it is going to do to me. I don’t think it’s bad to be afraid. Our pastor says that being brave is being afraid but still stepping out anyway. So I am afraid. Also dreading the unknown some.

Here’s the prayer, adapted for me: Almighty God our Heavenly Father, graciously comfort your servant Grace in her suffering, and bless the means made use of for her cure. Fill her heart with confidence, that though at times she may be afraid, she yet may put her trust in you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

She said it’s going to be hard to bless chemo, but that we’ll try. I’ve been trying to reframe my thinking and recognize that chemo is my ally, not my enemy. My brother-in-law said “the enemy of her enemy is her friend”.

While we drove, I read this prayer and parts of Psalm 23. I’ve really been liking the part lately when it says he prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. It struck me that in order for someone to sit down and eat a meal, they have to be, or at least feel, safe and peaceful. God isn’t giving us a meal that we have to devour while hiding in a foxhole or on the run. Since cancer is my enemy, this tells me that even in the presence of cancer, God will allow me to rest and be nourished in peace. I haven’t fully hashed out what that means to me, but it has kept recurring in my mind (also thanks to Camila’s blog post about it), so I wanted to mention it.

My friend also sent me me a song and a breath prayer (something we learned about at our church retreat this weekend: Inhale – I am no longer a slave to fear. Exhale – I am a child of God. It’s okay to be afraid sometimes. It’s not okay to let it rule me. I didn’t want to show up for my first infusion in tears, and thankfully I stopped feeling like crying shortly before.

I started with a blood draw around 8:30 and getting my IV put in. (I wasn’t able to get my port put in last week because of my doctor being out of town.) The nurse who did it was so good and I barely felt it in spite of her being a little concerned with how flat my veins were. Small goodnesses, right? They have to wait for the results to come back to make sure I’m good to go, so we went upstairs and waited a while. They gave me two pre-meds in pill form (Zofran and a steroid) and then gave me another anti-nausea in an IV. All the things I need to take are overwhelming.

The most stressful part once I got into the infusion chair was getting this little thing on my arm. It’s about the size of a floss container and at 27 hours, it starts releasing the medicine that rebuilds my white blood cells. After the nurse put it on me, he said in 2 minutes it will start beeping and then it’ll feel like a rubber band pop as it implants (?) something the size of a grain of rice in my skin. Once it started beeping I just kept thinking “do it already”, but when it finally did, it was like the babiest rubber band pop and didn’t hurt. Relief.

We came home and did all the normal things. Around dinner time my mouth started feeling sweaty, and as time has gone on I’ve felt queasy enough to lie down and eat some ginger chews. I realized I was behind on my medicine, so I took both anti-nausea medicines. I’m not sure if it’s helping. I’m going to bed soon. I’ll be getting some medical marijuana stuff (I don’t know all the lingo yet, but it’s mostly oils) soon and I’ve heard that it makes a huge difference in how you feel post-chemo and has many cancer-fighting properties.

Oh yeah, Jonathan is home all week! He got it worked out with his bosses and I am so relieved. I’d appreciate prayers for him, that God will sustain him in all ways, while we go through this.

To bed, to

One Comment leave one →
  1. Andy Zimmerman permalink
    May 8, 2018 01:27

    Hi Grace! Kim and I continue to pray for you daily. Thank you for sharing your chemo experience. I’m headed to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York this weekend with Kim. They will evaluate me for alternatives to surgery for my rectal cancer. This may involve chemo treatment similar to your’s, so your story is helpful for me.

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