Christmas Wishes from a Cancer Fighter to His Caregiver
Did you know that there's a side to cancer that fighters don't talk about much? There's a part of this journey that goes unspoken and that we often bury deep within ourselves. So, I want to write this from my own perspective during this holiday season.
To give some perspective, my cancer journey became more difficult about 5 weeks ago. I started experiencing a pain within my abdomen that we just can't diagnose. It comes each time I eat anything and even sometimes when I simply drink water. The pain is very acute and it lasts for hours.
I'd like to say this is rare for cancer fighters, but it really is not. Often times, in our fight, we are prescribed medications to fight cancer. Then, those medications cause side effects that often lead to other medications to help control those side effects. This complicates things when we are looking for the reason behind pain. One drug might not cause the pain by itself, but take 3-4 others at the same time and then it might. Yet, those drugs are essential to fighting off cancer. This puts cancer fighters in a place where we often have to test and try different diets and habits to see if we can lessen or eliminate the pain.
But, there are times when we just cannot find anything that works and daily, chronic pain becomes part of our reality. Most of us, can do a good job of masking this. When we interact with friends, go to church, hang out with family we can cover it up a lot. When it gets bad, we excuse ourselves to our bedrooms and "rest" which usually means pacing the floor, crying out to God, and doing anything we can to get our minds off of the pain.
I remember when I used to sit down with my Momma and list out Christmas Wishes. We were pretty poor growing up, so I used to make the list things I knew we already had...and my Dad could "give" me those things as my own. For instance, I loved chopping wood outside, so I would put an axe down on my list, because I knew we already had one and it wouldn't cost anything, but this axe could become mine. I'd sharpen it and take good care of it. Watching my Momma work so hard and take care of me always had me thinking of lists that would be useful and helpful. Christmas wasn't really about gifts, it was about family. Staying up late watching "It's a Wonderful Life" and "White Christmas" and playing Uno or Monopoly.
Memories. Sometimes they bring back beautiful feelings...and some you pray life doesn't make you repeat. Seeing my Momma work so hard is a memory that I had prayed would not come back to me in any form. But, life can be cruel at times. This year in the midst of this cancer journey, that memory has permeated my mind. This is because I see my Momma every time I see my wife.
My wife, Shara, has taken so much on in this fight. She works 40 hours a week at her job. She then takes care of me and our family. She is selfless and compassionate. All the while, she not only faces the reality of my diagnosis, but also is burdened by the thoughts of what she would do after I'm gone. Down time is a rarity and when she can have it, there's not a ton of things she can do to escape. Most of what we take in financially goes right back out to keep us afloat.
Seeing that, takes me right back to my Momma. As a kid, I always wanted to give her a trip to Florida to see her mother or give her a vacation of her dreams. And now, I find myself full circle as I watch Shara. She deserves so much more. And just like when I was a kid, I am helpless to change anything.
My Desperate Wish
I started this post with mentioning a side to cancer that fighters don't talk about. Deep down we want to disappear, we want to go away. We want to take our pain and this journey and have it disappear from our caregivers. They don't need to see this. They don't need to feel this. We wish they could be delivered to a place far from here where there is beautiful peace and serenity. A place where they could live out the remainder of their lives in happiness and joy.
As a Christ follower, I speak of hope. The truth is that HOPE is an all-out act of faith. It is clinging to a truth and promise that I cannot see. It is the act of taking my reality and projecting it onto the future promises of God. The truth is that there is a place of beautiful peace and serenity and happiness and joy awaiting Shara. A place where this fight is not present. My fight must become a fight for her. A fight to help her see glimpses of that place and those promises. That in spite of all of this, she, too, has a loving Father who cannot wait to pull her from all of this evil and consume her in his love.
If this life could deliver all of those things, then it would be my savior. But it cannot. It does not. My Jesus delivers me from this life and saves us from it. He will one day set everything right. He will restore all things to his will. The in-between that we find ourselves in is a blurry picture that at times gives us brief glimpses of His love and care that are tangible.
My desperate wish this Christmas for my caregiver, Shara is this: Lord, please let me bring into her life as many glimpses of your promises as I can. Give me strength to point to your goodness and love that will remain with her forever. Help me to love her the way you love me.