God's ButOctober 11, 2021
I knew that life—more so, life with cancer—is a marathon, not a sprint. I knew that recovery is not linear. I knew that I have to keep pressing on. I knew that I have to be patient. I knew. But I still struggled.
Last July, after a venous duplex scan of my upper extremity, I was asked to stay behind. My worries went through the roof! Did they find something? Did they incidentally find an enlarged lymph node? To my relief, it was a blood clot. It was not good, but it was a more manageable complication. My cardiologist just increased the dose of the anticoagulant I am taking—I’ve been on it since I was diagnosed with extensive deep vein thrombosis in 2018.
By August, I was off my post-transplant medicines. Finally off steroid! I even had my COVID-19 vaccination. I was so looking forward to the following month—my birth month. It started great. After 3 consecutive years without hair, I finally had hair on my birthday. I happily turned 28.
But in mid-September, I had to be admitted to the hospital for gastroscopy and colonoscopy with biopsy because I was experiencing skin and gastrointestinal signs and symptoms. I had rashes on my abdomen, painful mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, and diarrhea. I was anxious—my last admission was 15 months ago, when I had the transplant.
The findings of the procedures—esophageal webs and small gastric ulcers—and the results of the biopsy were unremarkable. Praise God! My oncologist deduced that I am experiencing chronic GvHD (graft-versus-host disease), so I was put back on almost all of my post-transplant medicines. Oh the horror of being back on steroid!
The medicines worked. Skin rashes, difficulty swallowing, and diarrhea were gone. Mouth sores lessened. I felt physically better but psychologically miserable. How long until I can taper off my medicines again? What more complications are ahead? Where do I get financial support? Is this my new normal? Hence, when I had my PET/CT, I couldn’t receive wholeheartedly the good results that I am still in remission. I thought, “Yeah I am in remission, but I am also experiencing complications.”
I had to rebuke myself. I had to turn that thought around. I may be experiencing complications, but I am in remission. I may have many troubles, but God delivers me from them all.
The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all. (Psalm 34:19)