I've had 3 weeks of radiation and 4 weeks of chemo. The first week of radiation was not terrible, but after that things went downhill quickly. I really look forward to the weekends because I have no doctors appointments, no radiation, and my chemotherapy usually wears off by Saturday so I can enjoy a quick break before I poison myself again the following Monday morning.
The chemo side effects surprisingly are not as bad as last year, but it just makes me much more tired. The radiation, on the other hand is much much worse than last year. The blistering and soreness and discomfort of my mouth and throat after the last 3 weeks of treatments is already worse than the worst I ever experienced last year. My muscles have really tightened up and it is just so difficult to do exercises when each movement causes pain and bleeding. My voice is raspy and my mouth cannot articulate clear speech anymore. Please pray for endurance for me and that I would not let my mind dwell on the future pain and suffering, but that I would stay focused on making it through today. Please also pray for relief from the pain, and that my speech would return in the future. The pain medications work to a certain degree, but there is only so much you can take.
On the bright side I've been able to maintain some of my swallowing abilities that I got back before radiation started. As you know, I was able to get a few bites of food down with lots of water flushes before radiation. Now, I can't get food down, but I can still drink some water! I practice swallowing a few times a day with an ice cold glass of water mixed with a few table spoons of apple juice (too much juice burns my mouth from the acid). Although I cough and gag quite a bit, the water is so satisfying to my burning mouth and throat and my hungry stomach.
Anyhow, praise God for ice cold water, and that the effects of chemo have not been as bad last week. Other than being extremely tired, I felt pretty good. I think I only threw up once.
So, physically I'm having a hard time, but spiritually I'm feeling more encouraged this week. I have made some breakthroughs in my understanding of trails and God's character this week after meditating on the scriptures and listening to our worship pastor, David Ward's, sermon yesterday. David's sermon reminded me of the difference between God's punitive discipline verses his formative discipline (click here to download). Sometimes I think of trials as being punitive discipline as if I'm being punished for what I've done in the past. We often think of discipline that way, even with our kids. The thing is, God's discipline is not that way towards me as a christian. If I was actually getting what I deserved, it would be much worse than cancer, in fact infinitely worse than the worst pain imaginable. God's punitive discipline would be the full force of His wrath against me as a punishment for my sins.
Instead, God's discipline is formative, meaning it is meant to shape me or train me (and others) to be more complete. This is an act of love, not punishment. Praise God for His Son Jesus, who took that punitive discipline to the cross in my place! As a result of Christ's work, I am a legitimate son of the living God and instead of being punished I am being trained in holiness and virtue through my trails. This is reason to rejoice in our sufferings!
MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES."
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.