Monday, 15 January 2018

Everyday Miracles

Miracles don't always look like we expect them to look. Of course, I'm not going to stand here and claim that God doesn't send instant, life changing miracles our way - because I would be flooded with examples otherwise, but I think more my argument is - that God is really working miracles all the time, well before we know that we need them - sending them in ways we don't expect.

For example - During chemo I am given a drug called Doxorubicin. Contained in this drug is organic material, a bacteria that is found predominately in soil and decaying vegetation and is delivered using plant virus nano particles. This creates a part of my chemotherapy regimen, is bright red, and is administered by a carefully trained nurse, by hand. The reason it is administered in this way is for my protection. The nurse was telling Brad and I on Friday that if this particular chemical in any way spilled onto my skin, or into surrounding tissues, not only would it immediately kill those tissues but, before it did, would transfer to other cells and kill those as well making it very difficult to stop. The nurse ensures that this drug is administered to my vein only - where it does not kill the vein cells but instead finds and kills the cancer cells.

As I was listening to my nurse describe this process, I was absolutely blown away. It is a MIRACLE. Somewhere along the line, whether this person recognized it or not, I believe that God gave them the idea, ability and smarts in order to not only understand how all of these complicated processes work, but also to get them to work not only on my behalf, but for any person who has lymphoma, effectively working to save lives. Yet, I think - me, and in particular people of faith - tend to get discouraged when we don't "get" a miracle that looks like we think it should look.

Have I prayed for God to heal this lymphoma immediately? Of course. So far though, it hasn't happened like that. In response God said - trust me. Follow me. Let me lead you step by step. It is that image of me taking his hand, and letting him lead me that has informed me in my decisions to work exclusively with the information and recommendations of my Oncologist. In essence God has put Dr. Chua and his team in my life to work as healers. To me this is no less miraculous than God working an immediate miracle in my body. In that, the journey becomes all the more precious. God is still, my strength, my comfort, my song, and my healer - but I get to walk with people, build relationships with people, and ultimately face some fears in my life.

I never took the time to imagine a cancer chemo infusion room. That was far too terrifying for me. But, what I have found is nothing short of the presence of a loving savior walking amongst the chairs and beds in that room. Each time, I see people in all stages of cancer, I was scared that the chemo room would be a place of desperation and sadness, and though it sometimes is - instead I have found a place of light, positivity and hope. A collective of people banded together to fight the same evil disease bravely, with laughter, joy, peace, questions and generosity. A deep concern not for strangers, but for fellow humanity walking the same steps, fighting the same fight. A place where love and life, fear and death all culminate, and as each cancer warrior faces it head on, a place where miracles happen each and every day, and the enduring hope that a miracle will happen for each person there.

For my scientific friends - please forgive my clunky explanation of Doxorubicin. For sources and more info: 


Thursday, 4 January 2018

Someone To Blame...

Have you ever wanted to blame someone for something? To say - the reason I am going through all this pain and agony is because of YOU, or even ME. At least I can point the finger, narrow it down and say THIS, this is what caused all of this and now i'm going to avoid it. 

Just recently I have met a young lady who miraculously has gone through exactly what I am going through right now. It's a blessing for a few reasons, the first because 10 in 100,000 people in my age category are diagnosed with this disease every year. Second because she loves Jesus too, and not only does she get exactly what I'm going through, but she asks really good questions, and makes strong points. 

We were talking about the temptation to blame. The temptation to demand an answer to WHY? Especially why ME? When I'm sitting, and reflecting I can't help but thinking - ok, if there is this huge mass on my chest of cancer how did I not notice? The inevitable answer comes back with hindsight being 20/20. I hear something like you knew. You saw the strange signs, and symptoms. You were just scared to deal with it. Maybe that's true. Can I list my symptoms? Yes, but so can any website talking about Lymphoma. In all honesty - I was feeling off, I thought I had a cold which was affecting my ability to swallow, and something weird going on with the lymph nodes in my thigh - but my doctor assured me they were nothing to be concerned about. So, I can't really blame myself - can I blame someone else? 

I suppose I could blame my doctor, or even both doctors I saw before I was diagnosed who brushed off the symptoms as something less - but it's not really their fault either. I tend to be a hypochondriac, my doctor's first instinct with me is always "calm down Jana"  and she's usually right. 

I could look to blame something I ate, or something I didn't eat. I could blame not getting enough exercise, or maybe getting too much. I could blame my job for being stressful, for relationships that over the past year have fallen apart, failures I've had in dealing with my kids, my sometimes crushing awkwardness in social situations, my quick bite and lashing out in anger in the privacy of my van. Sure - I suppose it could be any of those things - or none of them.

I mean at least we can look at a heavy smoker with lung cancer and say really clever, helpful things like "Well what did you expect?" I mean, that always makes US feel better, or safe or something. 

If I can't find something to blame for this cancer - what am I going to point others toward blaming? 

So, when I'm out and I've forgotten that my hair is gone, and when someone stares at me with a mixture of horror and painful compassion I can almost hear what they are thinking...

"Dear God, what did she do to end up where she is??" I know - I'm not claiming I'm clairvoyant - it's what I was arrogant enough to think to myself. It's then I realize I'm not so different...

And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Having said these things; he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed ht man’s eyes with mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” (Which means sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”

John 9: 2 – 8

There it is. There's nothing to blame, no one to blame - not even me. There's no silver bullet, there's no quick cure. This is just the journey my feet are walking, and the very best part is, I'm not alone. I can walk, my hand in the very hand of God (though sometimes I feel like I'm just hanging on to his robes from behind) and trust him to lead me. Past, present and in to the future. To take off blame, and leave it where it is. There's no point taking it with me. 

all the sins we see

He raped me. My friend, sweet and gentle, said it straight out like she was talking about the movie we'd seen not too long ago toget...