Sunday, August 9, 2009

Chemo’s coming

It’s been about a week and a half now since Jeff finished radiation. The oncologists’ office called to say that he would be starting chemotherapy on the 20th of this month.

I still don’t know much about the treatment plan. And I know basically nothing about this type of recurrence. There’s nothing at the library on it, and even the specialists could only find three published studies in their medical journals, none of which suggested a clear treatment plan. When the people who are supposed to know this stuff tell you they don’t know yet how many treatments we are going to do, it is a little disconcerting.

I know their goal is to knock out this tumor before the cancer cells find their way back to the bone marrow where leukemia usually takes hold. (I’m still really fuzzy on how they ended up in his brain in the first place.) Since the drug will not cross the blood-brain barrier, these chemo treatments will be injected through a catheter into Jeff’s spine. (Think epidural and you’ve got the basic idea.) The cerebrospinal fluid will circulate the drug around the brain and the optic nerves where Jeff’s tumor is, killing off any cells that the radiation may have missed.

You probably have even more questions. Questions don’t scare me, so if you ever want more explanation, just ask. I’ll do my best to clarify. Questions foster learning. I ask them all the time.

When it comes to questioning God, you can be sure I have. But not, perhaps, in the way you might imagine. My questions are not angry or full of self-righteousness--though I can understand when people do that. And I do wonder “Why him?” and “Do we really need to do this again?” But really my questions are more along this line: whispering to Him that “I just don’t understand.”

Asking: “How will we do this?”

and: “Was there some lesson we failed to learn

the last time?”

My husband is a godly man, and I can think of plenty of reasons why he does not deserve this. And if God used cancer as a way to punish sin, then I would feel justified asking those angry questions. But the truth is, we live in a world marred by sin, the effects of which are violence, death, and disease. Those were not part of God’s perfect plan for this world or for us, but those were the consequences when sin entered the world. Cancer doesn’t care if you are a Christian or not, it just happens.

So if cancer wasn’t God’s plan, why does he allow it? Why doesn’t God just heal people right away? Those are good questions, too. I don’t know why. But I do know that He promises to work it out for good, and for His glory. Somehow, these experiences are part of a plan that God is working out to make something good. And for today, just knowing that is enough.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28


deejbrown said...

I struggle with these questions too. Many books have been written about them but none with a better answer than you have just offered. This is what faith is, that we believe good will come of personal horror, even if we do not understand it.
Prayers for you and your husband.

Valerie said...

Adrienne -
I just found this part of your blog and have a heavy heart for the road you must now walk. This post reminded me of the September 10 writing in "Streams in the Desert" written by Mrs. Chas E. Cowman. It was the devotional book I wrote about recently that has been passed to me from my grandmother, to my mom, and now me. I am not sure how much space I have to write here - but just wanted to share these thoughts with you after seeing my mother and father both walk such a hard road.

Psalm 138:2 "The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me."

There is a Divine mystery in suffering, a strange and supernatural power in it, which has never been fathomed by the human reason. There never has been known great saintliness of soul which did not pass through great suffering. When the suffering soul reaches a calm and sweet carelessness, when it can inwardly smile at its own suffering and does not even ask God to deliver it from suffering, then it has wrought its blessed ministry; then patience has its perfect work; then the crucifixion begins to weave itself into a crown.

It is in this state of the perfection of suffering that the Holy Spirit works many marvelous things in our souls. In such a condition, our whole being lies perfectly still under the hand of God; every faculty of the mind and will and heart are at last subdued; a quietness of eternity settles down into the whole being; the tongue grows still and has but few words to say; it stops asking God questions; it stops crying, "Why hast thou forsaken me?"

The imagination stops building air castles, or running off on foolish lines; the reason is tame and gentle; the choices are annihilated; it has no choice in anything but the purpose of God. The affections are weaned from all creatures and all things; it is so dead that nothing can hurt it, nothing can get in its way; for, let the circumstances be what they may, it seeks only for God and His will and it feels assured that God is making everything in the universe. good or bad, past or present, work together for its good.

Oh the blessedness of being absolutely conquered! Of losing our own strength and wisdom and plans and desires and being where every atom of our nature is like placid Galilee under the omnipotent feet of our Jesus.

She then finishes with a quote by Fenelon: "The great thing is to suffer without being discouraged."

I gained a lot of comfort, as well as did my sisters when we found mom had bookmarked this page for us - in order that we would be able to gain some insight into the the world of suffering that both are parents had walked. It took me a long time to follow the reading and know which "it" the author was talking about. But, eventually it made sense to me. And so I share it with you, hoping you might find some comfort or understanding in your journey down this road.

Praying for you and your family.