So my former landlady thinks I’m pregnant.
In a nutshell, she asked my roommate and seemed disinclined to believe it when my roommate said no, I wasn’t. I suppose that my symptoms = pregnancy for her, although she knows I have cancer, so I don’t really understand the problem. In all of my imaginary scenarios about cancer, I never guessed people might think I’m pregnant. But she caught me sleeping in the middle of the afternoon once when she came down to weep over the state of our stairs, so I guess I can only blame myself. Blasted fatigue gets you at every turn.
No baby here, just cancer. Unless you count Li’l Almond Cub.
Also on the list of things I don’t have…blood clots in my brain! Obviously this is a huge relief.
In a twist that perhaps largely contributed to the whole “pregnancy” thing, I was feeling pretty sick for a few weeks. This week has been a lot better, which is a relief, since work has been crazy. Only this week out of the whole year do I have grown adults demanding I pour their syrup and asking if I’ve seen their specific friends/children/spouses in the midst of 300-person lunch rushes. Yes, I’ve probably seen Christopher, but I have no idea who or where he is.
Anyway, due to me not being able to live a normal life without having adventures, when I showed up at the clinic for my MRI/MRA they took me to a different room than last time I had an MRI. Out of nowhere the nurse said, “This is my favorite part of the day because I get to go outside.” My brain got very confused as to why we were going outside, which also didn’t happen last time I had an MRI. But I followed her out a door…and into a shady trailer. That’s right, I had my MRI/MRA in a mobile box. If regular MRIs are uncomfortable, then increase that by 10x and you have a rough idea of an MRI in a narrow, dark trailer. Also, I had to have it done all over again with contrast, which feels like stabbing a Nazgul because you can feel the cold running all the way up your arm. Alas, despite everything they couldn’t tell me anything helpful about my headaches, so that’s still happening. But I don’t have blood clots, which is a definite plus.
I have a test soon to check my platelets, and I’m nervous about that because of how close I am to the 1.5 million mark. I don’t really know how the chemo will effect me. The doctor is hopeful that it won’t be bad at all, but there are potential side effects and I tend to be pretty sensitive to medication. On the plus side, if I do have the classic cancer/chemo thing of losing my hair, I can just get a long wig instead of waiting for my own hair to grow out, which is taking a ridiculous amount of time. Seriously, it’s been years now.
All in all, I’m trying to keep it together and not give in to the fear I’m feeling. I’m terrified that this is going to be too much for me, that I won’t be able to handle it or I’ll have to go through all it alone. I basically feel like everything important in my life is beyond my control: I can’t decide when to start chemo, I can’t impact how my body responds to it, I can’t even make people understand that I have a chronic myeloproliferative cancer rather than an unplanned pregnancy. No matter what I do, this cancer is here to stay, for better or for worse. It simply is. And yet, more importantly and in the midst of it, God is with me, as well. And that, as Gandalf would say, is an encouraging thought.
I love stories. Stories are probably the main reason I chose to study English in college, which could also explain why I didn’t much enjoy studying English in college. Anyway, I tend to see my life as a story, and let’s be honest: if not for God it would be a pretty depressing one.
There are days I wish I could pull an 8-year-old me and skip to the end of the Nancy Drew book to find out what happens because this is taking forever for Pete’s sake and the journey isn’t all that fun or interesting. There are days, lots of them, where I wish that things were different. My life is not going to be the life I hoped it would be. It’s going to be harder and more painful and there are no promises that it will be filled with happiness or satisfaction or personal accomplishments.
There are days when I have to pray or recite hymns before I feel capable of dragging myself out of bed. When my physical inability reminds me so forcibly of all that I am incapable of, I have to remind myself of where my strength is found. I am inadequate, I am dust, there quite literally is no health in me, but I know that I can and will be made whole in Him. Because God is always telling us a better story than the one we have.
I don’t mean “I didn’t get the job I thought I wanted but then I got one with more pay and more benefits” better. It’s going to be really hard for anyone to convince me that having cancer is better than not having cancer. The better story God is telling in me is one where I am slowly growing more like Christ, one where His love sustains me and makes it possible for me to get out of bed in the morning. I arise each day, spiritually and physically, by a mighty strength that is not my own.
Once George MacDonald wrote that in Christ there was no need to be afraid of drowning, that you would only need to fear if the water was capable of taking you out of God’s hands. Whatever else it may do to me, cancer cannot take me out of God’s hands. He is taking my heart of stone and changing it for one of flesh. He’s taking my fear and replacing it with perfect love just as quickly (or slowly; I’m not so great at trust) as I release it to Him.
He’s telling a better story. And the best is yet to come.