I can’t remember the last time I used the front door to enter our house. It is a special portal reserved for surprise visitors and random delivery people.
Most people make their way in and out of our home through the garage.
Just outside the garage sits our wood rack. The woodstove in my study runs pretty consistently throughout the fall and winter months.
For the past few years, we have purchased our firewood. That was not always the way things were done.
Pre-cancer Dan would fire up the chainsaw, head to the woods, and harvest what was needed. Cutting and splitting firewood was therapeutic and enjoyable. Years ago, it would have been a family experience with Nancy, Joseph, and Rayann joining the work. They approached the task with varying levels of energy and enjoyment. We would make a weekend of it and stockpile what was needed for the winter over a few days.
Each time I stepped outside the garage this spring, it felt like the empty wood rack was mocking me. Six years of cancer treatments left me without the energy to approach the task like in years past. Instead, the mere thought of a full day cutting, splitting, and stacking wood made me long for the recliner.
One afternoon I sharpened the chain on my saw and headed toward the woods. I slowly cut up a few downed trees and moved the pieces to the wood rack. Over the next few days, my ax and maul took the logs and turned them into firewood.
A few days later, it was back to the woods. The process was slow. Sometimes I would go out and split a single log before I needed to rest. Days turned into weeks, and the wood rack began to fill up.
Nancy was helping me stack the split wood one evening when she commented that it looked about half done. Her assessment was generous, but there was progress being made.
What used to be a weekend’s work took over a month, but this winter’s wood is ready to go.
So here is the lesson my woodpile taught me.
A Lesson from the Woodpile
It was easy to feel overwhelmed by the size of a task. That feeling made me question my ability and the wisdom of even starting the work.
Yet the truth was I did not need to create a pile of wood overnight. I could take it piece by piece, log by log. Slow and steady won the race.
The important thing was the first step. I needed to get started.
Thinking about my life, this lesson applies in so many areas. I am often overwhelmed by what feels like a monumental task or burden. My mind races, and I begin to doubt my ability to complete the project successfully. Stuck in a spiral of doubt and questioning, it is easy to feel defeated before even getting underway.
From the Woodpile to Real Life
A while ago, Nancy shared about awaiting test results in one of her Caregiver Journals.
Well, the results are in, and it is a mixed bag. The scan shows disease progression. We have caught it early, but it is clear that my cancer is growing again.
GOD IS GOOD, ALL THE TIME; ALL THE TIME, GOD IS GOOD
A Couple of Thoughts
- Catching it early is good.
- These scan results are consistent with my journey over the past six years. I have been off treatment for one year, which has been amazing. I have been blessed to receive these year-long breaks between treatments.
- All the markers we have watched continue to remain accurate indications of what is going on regarding my cancer. This is extremely helpful and not always the case.
- The scan results showed up in my portal a few weeks ago. I am not an expert, but I have come to be able to tell the difference between a “clean” scan and one that is problematic. My appointment with Dr. Saroha was a couple of weeks away. I was able to use the messaging feature on the medical portal to confirm my hunch. In a very weird way, Dr. Saroha and I have become so familiar and comfortable with each other and this process that we did a lot of the scheduling regarding future treatments via email. I love this guy!
- I feel terrific. This is probably the healthiest I have been in the past five or six years. Starting a new round of treatment while I feel good will be something new.
- All this to say that I will be starting my fifth round of systemic chemotherapy on July 18th.
The days immediately following the scan results and confirmation of a return to treatment were not easy.
My spirit questioned if and how I would manage another six to eight months of chemotherapy.
As a result, I was less than eager to get started and somewhat depressed.
Back to the Woodpile
I was putting the final few rows upon my wood pile as all this news was breaking. Then, swinging the ax one evening, the Spirit spoke.
The invitation was to approach this new course of treatment just like an empty wood rack—one treatment at a time.
No need to think about the entire eight months. Get through each treatment, and before you know it, this season will be in the rearview mirror.
I enjoy walking out of my garage these days.
Sometimes I simply take a walk outside to look at my woodpile. Looking at the finished work reminds me I can do anything. I just need to take the first step.