I Wonder

28 Oct

I know we usually do Cancer-Free Fridays, but I feel like breaking the rules this week.  This week feels all out of whack with the stent removal on Tuesday.  Thursday felt like Tuesday and today feels like…well, I don’t know what it feels like.  Thaturday??  Frursday?  Who knows?  Everything’s off kilter a bit.   And since this Friday is sandwiched between the glorious {Can you hear angels singing HALLELUJAH??  I can.} stent removal and the not-so-glorious chemo next week, it doesn’t feel much like a Cancer-Free Friday anyway.

Source: ThinkStockPhotos.com

I look in the mirror each morning and think to myself,

“You sure don’t look like you have cancer, Rachel.”

In fact, I look pretty much the same as I always have.  Aside from my lightly thinning hair (which no one besides myself even notices), there are no physical appearance indicators that I am “sick.”  I’ve gained some weight back so I don’t look as skinny as I did starting out.

You know what’s strange about this?  Mixed in with my relief at not having lost my hair and being able to tolerate treatments fairly well, is a sense of guilt.  I don’t wish those horrible side effects on myself, but I feel guilty that so many others are going through much tougher experiences than I am.  Especially the children.  It’s very hard for me to accept that there are little kiddos struggling with much uglier forms of this disease than what I have.  They don’t deserve it.  None of us do.  I’m incredibly grateful that my journey is progressing well, but there’s an element of guilt mixed in with that gratitude when I see the other patients at COHA and realize how difficult this is on them.

I watch the patients and I wonder.

I wonder how traumatic it was for them to lose their hair.

I wonder if they have small children who are terrified because mommy or daddy is so sick.

I wonder what kind of cancer they have and how long they’ve had it.

I wonder if this is their first time “at the rodeo” or if they are repeat customers.

I wonder if they have adult children nearby to help them through this or if they are trying to take care of themselves.

I wonder if they are scared, with their precious bald heads, their dry coughs, and weak little bodies.

I wonder if they think this is my first visit because I look so “normal.”

I’ve had three treatments and I already feel like a veteran.  I know the drill now.  I know what to expect and how I will feel after treatment.

But I still wonder.

I wonder why I’m allowed to have (what seems like) an easier experience than some patients.  And I feel grateful.

I wonder how long the cancer has been there, quietly lurking in the shadows waiting for the day it would be noticed.  And I shudder at the thought.

I wonder how long it would have gone unnoticed were it not for the bumps on my skin.  Months?  Years?  Who knows.

I wonder what would have happened had I not gone to the dermatologist.  And I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

I wonder if the people I see at treatment have friends and family who are supporting them, encouraging them, and lifting them up in prayer.

I wonder if they feel alone, if they are alone.  I hope not because it makes me hurt for them.  I couldn’t do this alone.  No one should have to.

I wonder how people get through something like this without God.  Because there’s only so much your family and friends can do for you.  There comes a point when it is just you and God working through this.  As my Aunt Frances said early on, there are going to be parts of this that only you can do and you’ll have to dig down deep inside you to find the strength to do them.  She’s wise, that Frances.  :)

I also wonder what I ever did to deserve friends and family like you all.  I don’t feel worthy of the care, concern, and prayers you have been showering on me, but I am so very grateful for it.  You all have some of the sweetest, most caring hearts of any people on the planet.  Lucky me that I get to call you my friends and family!

♥ Rachel

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14 Responses to “I Wonder”

  1. The Savvy Sister October 28, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    By sharing your feeling and thoughts, you are reaching out to those that don’t have the support that you do. So you probably are someone’s family even if you don’t know it :)

    • rachturner October 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

      Maybe you’re right. I hope that someone gets a little encouragement from my experience. Thanks for making me see it in a different way. :)

  2. painterfrances October 28, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    I wonder…………..was that when I said “grab it by the neck and look it in the eye?” Ha,ha. Very seriously, I am so proud of you, Rachel, for giving your feelings about fighting cancer a voice on this page. I’ll bet you would be surprised how many people read this and gain strength from it. I love you and I’m so glad the stent is out!

    • rachturner October 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

      I think it was a part of that conversation! ha ha Love you, too, Frances!

  3. Jennifer October 28, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

    I wonder how I got to be so lucky to have you as a sister!
    I love you and am so proud of you!
    Jennifer

    • rachturner October 28, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

      You’re not the lucky one – I am. Now stop it – your’e going to make me cry!

  4. Jim Fugate October 29, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    Rachael: This is your West Virginia prayer supporter via Diana Hunsaker.

    I’ve been told that one’s attitude when he/she has cancer is one-half the battle. You have demonstrated a conquering faith in our Lord and perhaps others have not/could not do that. I trust your testimony will launch them on a faith path.

    I’m so pleased that the stent is gone. Keep looking UP!

    Jim Fugate

    • rachturner October 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

      Jim – So nice to hear from you! Diana is the sweetest thing – I just love her. Thank you SO much for praying for me.

  5. Robin October 29, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    It amazes me how cancer patients in such different parts of the world can have so much of the same experiences. I’m pretty sure I’ve had every thought that you’ve voiced in this blog. I’m glad you have the courage to share it.

    Glad the stent is out!

    Blessings from Toronto, Canada
    Robin

    • rachturner October 30, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

      Hey Robin – You are so right – it is interesting how “common” our journeys are, despite living in different places and even different types of cancer. Glad you are finished with one phase and onto another! I know you’re going to do great through radiation!

  6. Jeannie Evans October 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

    Darling Rachel…although we have never met face to face, I feel I know you like a daughter. Please know that I have covered you in prayer since I first learned of your cancer. My mother had cancer in 1961. This was way before chemo. Way before people even spoke aloud about it. It was “that” disease. There were no support groups. But, we prayed. She had the best doctor and the best care and we didn’t even realize it. But God did. He orchestrated everything. She conquered it! Survived it for 27 years, to die from heart failure at the age of 76. When God is in charge, everyone can have a miracle. Yours is right around the corner. We don’t know why some walk this path and some don’t. But know this….He will bring you through the Valley of Bacca. You will be restored. Love you.

    • rachturner October 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

      Hi Jeannie – Thank you so much for commenting! It’s amazing how much progress has been made in the area of cancer treatment in 50 years. Your mother must have been a strong woman! I do, fully expect God to restore me to health. I believe it will happen! Thank you for your prayers and for reading. It means so much to me.

  7. Susan October 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

    I think looks can be pretty deceiving. People tell me all the time “Well at least you look good!” to comfort me. But really, I find it kind of insulting. How I look isn’t always a proper reflection of how I’m feeling. I really wish I could do away with the image of the “typical cancer patient.”

    I wonder all the time about a lot of the things you voiced here. Being sick certainly gives us plenty of time to mull over these things!

    Hope you’re having a good weekend so far xo

    • rachturner October 30, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

      Susan – I think when people say things like “at least you look good,” it’s because they don’t know what else to say. Usually, I think they are surprised to see us looking good because they all have that “typical cancer patient” image in their minds – no hair, pale, thin, frail, weak, sick. When we look “good,” it goes against what they are expecting. I’m grateful to look good most days, but truthfully, I don’t care so much about what I look like right now. :) And yes, being sick gives us lots of time to think through these things. :) Hope you are feeling well today! Keeping you in my prayers.

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