Three cycles into my fifth round of systemic chemotherapy I am struggling. My meditation this morning invited me to sit with my pain.
How this Round Began
Last August, I went on disability. Since that time, the pace of life has been a little easier. I work when I feel like it and nap when I want to.
I was active and energetic in the weeks before starting this round of chemotherapy. This was the healthiest I have been prior to beginning chemotherapy. I had hoped to sail through these twelve cycles with ease.
My hopes and dreams were nice. Unfortunately, reality has been much different.
Each cycle (every other week) has been filled with various side effects—the kind of things I have largely avoided for the past six years. I am not sure why this round is different.
Dr. Saroha has always welcomed the side effects. His logic is that the more side effects you experience, the more likely the treatment is working.
I tend to believe that it is the cumulative effect of multiple rounds of chemotherapy. My body has come to know what to expect and jumps to harsher reactions to the treatments.
Cycle Three – this Monday
Monday was a treatment day. I was tired going into it.
We spent last week with Nancy’s family in North Carolina celebrating her father’s life. There was lots to do, and I helped plan Ray’s memorial service. The drive to and from NC was rough.
Once we got home, there was yard work to catch up on. I probably worked when I should have been resting.
All that to say, I entered Monday’s treatment in less than peak condition. My body reacted to the chemo in what is, for me, unusual ways. First, I was nauseous and found it hard to relax. Then, a few hours in, I had GI issues from both ends of my body.
Tuesday was more of the same. I basically sat in my chair the majority of the day. When I was not in my chair, I was in the bathroom.
Where My Mind Went
Wednesday morning, I awoke early and looked forward to getting rid of my pump. As soon as the chemotherapy stops, I usually begin to feel better. Not this week.
Sitting at my desk, I struggled with the side effects, questioned why this was happening, and wondered if I had fought this fight long enough.
I know, challenging thought, but it was where my mind was.
The most difficult thing for me to navigate is “chemo brain.” My cognitive ability slows down, and it takes me longer to think through issues. As a result, reading and writing become a chore.
The pain and discomfort were overwhelming. Finally, I found myself in one of those moments when all I could do was focus on the pain and discomfort. Every fiber of my being wanted it gone.
Looking for a distraction, I opened my email and found Richard Rohr’s daily meditation titled, Stay Where the Pain Is.
My Gut Reaction? I don’t need to read this crap. My pain is unique. I have carried it well for long enough. It is time for the pain to be gone.
Overcoming my self-focus, I opened the meditation. Rohr’s words spoke to my heart.
Stay where the pain is. Sit with it. Own it. Allow your pain to heal and transform you.
We often experience renewal, rebirth, transformation, and resurrection while going through seasons of struggle and pain.
Sitting with My Pain
After reading Rohr’s meditation a couple of times, I went to sit on my porch. Then, I made my way to my prayer bench a few minutes later.
I called a friend from years ago. We talked about past lives and what may be in the future.
Slowly I felt the sting of pain subside, and the hope of what might be became clearer.
Moments later, I received a message from a friend sharing how the Spirit was using The Journey Continues to speak life into the pain of another’s life.
Renewal, rebirth, transformation, and resurrection can all be ours if we are willing to stay where the pain is. It is even more likely if we are willing to share our pain with others.
The pain is still present. My body’s reaction to the chemotherapy has not changed.
What has changed is my spirit, my attitude.
There is no need to flee the pain. I eagerly await how the Spirit will use this season to breathe renewal, rebirth, transformation, and resurrection into my life and world.
I highly recommend you take a few minutes and read Richard Rohr’s meditation, Stay Where the Pain Is.
I wrote this post on Wednesday. It was (is) an honest reflection of where my heart and mind were. Today, (Thursday) I am feeling much better. The side effects are much better and I am feeling more like myself. Such is the cycle, or rhythm of my journey with cancer. The first days following treatment can be very trying, extremely difficult. Slowly I begin to recover a bit of myself, only to begin again in two weeks. Thank you for your prayers. Please pray for all people who silently carry the pain of their struggle…no matter what it may be.