The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14) This verse has never been truer as I battle cancer. I could not count the times I begged the Lord to help me be still because I know I must ask for endurance and not for an easy journey. I keep telling myself to hold on to the Lord – to His promises – when truthfully, all this time, He has been the one holding me. I am ashamed of the times I felt my grasp on Him was slipping because of fears and doubts; but He continues to hold me! At times when I say I can’t, I am reminded that He can.
On the 15th of October, we needed an ambulance to get me to the hospital because I can barely stand. I was vomiting and burning with fever – 39°C. My head was aching and my right cheek was swollen. I was brought to the Emergency Room (ER) in the morning and transferred to a private room in the evening. I spent that much time in the ER because they had to stabilize me as I was quite hypotensive. They conducted necessary diagnostic examinations and began medical interventions such as intravenous hydration, administration of antibiotics, and blood transfusion. My blood works revealed low blood counts and electrolytes. Notably, my hemoglobin count was only 70 (Normal: 120-160 g/L) and my white blood cell count was only 0.19 (Normal: 4.50-10.00 x109/L). Late in the evening, I was also scheduled for CT scan of the head, which made me anxious. What if the metastases reached my brain? What if a blood clot got dislodged and travelled to my head?
I remembered feeling so weak and scared in the ER. All I thought of was our Lord Jesus Christ. I imagined Him carrying me, similar to the prose Footprints in the Sand. Then, I asked my sister to sing a Christian song for me. She sang What a Beautiful Name and we were both wiping our tears.
What a beautiful Name it is
Nothing compares to this
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus
I spent a week in the hospital physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually pained. I cried to my mother and sister. And, for the first time, I cried to my oncologist. But, the Lord heard my cries! The result of the CT scan of the head was “No acute major vascular territory infarct, intracranial hemorrhage, mass effect, midline shift or hydrocephalus.” It was clear! Praise God! The results of my echocardiogram and blood culture were also clear. Extraction of my two infected molars was done without complications; though again I had to stop taking my oral anticoagulant 48 hours prior to the procedure. The Lord definitely carried me through! I was discharged on the 23rd and the schedule of my sixth chemotherapy session was moved to the 29th instead of the 25th.
However, just 3 days after, I found myself in the ER again. On the 26th of October, I woke up with a bad stomach. In the morning alone, I had loose bowel movement and I vomited twice. My mother and I decided to go to the ER just for intravenous hydration. But, we were told I needed to be admitted because I had infection as manifested in my white blood cell count of 14.47 (Normal: 4.50-10.00 x109/L). After a couple of days in the hospital, my stomach felt better and I thought I could proceed with my sixth chemotherapy session while admitted. However, we had another setback. The extraction site in my mouth was profusely bleeding. I had to stop my oral anticoagulant for a day and bite hard on a gauze for two days which made it difficult to eat. In fact, I almost fainted! I was disheartened with my body – a frail body. But, the Lord reminded me as I was listening to the song Take Me Out of the Dark that He won’t give me what I can’t bear. I was discharged on the 30th and my sixth chemotherapy session was rescheduled on the 5th of November.
I was discouraged that my sixth chemotherapy session had to be rescheduled twice, but I was reminded that these were just setbacks and I needed to keep going. Then, lo and behold, my determination was again challenged. A day before my schedule, I had an allergy attack. My eyes were itchy, swollen, and red. My throat was itchy. There were red marks on my chest and bald head. I was constantly sneezing. I was worried that it was going to be another setback. I took a medicine and prayed. The next morning, I woke up feeling better. Praise God!
On the 5th of November, I had my sixth chemotherapy session and for the first time, I did it as an outpatient. I was with my parents and my sister; my brother was still in Cebu reviewing for the Civil Engineering board exam. We were happy and hopeful that it would be my last chemotherapy session. But, as I began receiving the chemotherapy drugs, my mind got anxious. I was thinking of the scans after chemotherapy. I was thinking of radiation therapy. I was thinking of palliative treatment. I was thinking of my prognosis. I was thinking of my advanced stage diagnosis. My thoughts were leaning toward despair and I fought it hard. I told myself that these were lies from the enemy – the devil. I told myself that I should not let it steal my joy! I told myself that I just finished 6 chemotherapy sessions in the past 4 months and I should celebrate! I told myself that whatever lies ahead, I have the Lord Jesus Christ! The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
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