Excuse the late post - James and I have been going since 6 a.m. this morning and are just now settling in for the night, though it is 10 p.m. (and I should really go throw those clothes in the dryer...)
James received his fourth dose of chemo today. His blood numbers look good, his hip pain is still in a very manageable range, and he's tolerating the chemo really well. James did get diagnosed with a very mild case of shingles today, so he's now taking an antiviral to deal with that. (I guess to make sure it doesn't get worse, come back, or last for weeks on end? Otherwise, to us, it seems like he's already pretty much over it.)
During the several hours at the cancer care center we were able to get some good ethnic food recommendations from Dr. Gupta. Needless to say, Dr. Gupta shares our view on the "narrow flavor profile" of American food and was happy to oblige. (Complaining about American food is so much more interesting than talking about cancer!) And I say, if the doctor can't cure you, he should at least be able to tell you where to get some good food. Kudos to Dr. Gupta for coming through on at least one account!
We continue to be so thankful for your prayers which we know God is using mightily in our lives. God hears, and is answering so very many of them. Thank you.
The last several days have been really enjoyable as James has been free from chemo symptoms (his last dose was the 5th). Though the reality of cancer is ever-present, it's been a wonderful blessing to see James up and around and more his normal self.
I was thinking today as we walked back into the "furnace" of our reality how easy it would be to believe that our situation was the worst imaginable. It would be the most natural thing if I was sitting around thinking, "How could this get any worse?" Can there be anything worse than the diagnosis of an incurable cancer?
Well, yes. Lots of things, actually.
But even in this circumstance, I can envision many ways it could be going so much worse. James could be really, really weak, confined to his bed. James could be nauseous, with constant vomiting. He could have difficulty eating, and could be losing weight. He could have chronic infection. He could have cancer in his bone marrow. He could be in so much pain that he needs narcotics, or radiation. He could have blood numbers so poor that treatment needs to be delayed or stopped. He could, quite simply, be dying.
And that's just James. Add to the equation me and our girls, and you could very quickly have a hot mess of crazy.
God has been, and continues to be, incredibly, unspeakably gracious. Not just to James, but to me and our three girls. And so we give thanks.
From the time of James's initial diagnosis of lung cancer, we have been confident in our belief that this is something that God is allowing in our lives. Not something God caused or wished on us or punished us with. But something He is allowing. Maybe because it was smoker's lung cancer given to a non-smoker that made it easy to believe God's sovereign plan even in this.
As we continue to walk this road, we find ourselves giving thanks to God, for his goodness in bringing us through this. He has allowed this cancer. He has allowed it to metastasize, and He has allowed it to threaten to take James's life. But at the same time, He has set a boundary that it cannot cross. Cancer will not erode God's faithfulness, nor can it limit His lovingkindness. God has, for this time, set a boundary over the amount of suffering He will allow us to endure.
So often in hardship we look so long and so hard at what God is not doing (He is not doing it my way, in my time), that we forget to notice what He is not allowing. And it is, many times, in the things that He does not allow in our lives that we can experience His grace, if we will simply stop long enough to notice. In faith, let's walk in that spacious place of the loving, all-wise mix of the "allowed hardship" and the "unallowed suffering," because God is good.
In closing...all good rambles eventually come to a close...one of my favorite verses. I love the image of God carrying Israel through the desert, like a father carries his son...embraced, shielded, carried, loved. Tonight, we give thanks for the way God is carrying us through our "wilderness."
"Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place."
in Deuteronomy 1.29-31
Good night, dear friends, and may you, too, feel carried by our great, gracious, loving God.