but /bət/ conj. on the contrary; yet

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 compression test 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. Sigh.

It was not a good news! But it was a more manageable complication, I guess. 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.

But September was a mess!

It started great. I turned 28. Praise God! And after 3 consecutive years without hair, I finally had hair on my birthday. Sweet little victory!

Then I had to be admitted to the hospital!

And my last admission was 15 months ago, when I had the transplant. Shivers.

I was experiencing skin and gastrointestinal signs and symptoms. I had rashes on my abdomen, painful mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, and diarrhea. So I had to undergo gastroscopy and colonoscopy with biopsy.

The findings included esophageal webs and small gastric ulcers. And the biopsy result was unremarkable. Praise God!

My oncologist deduced that I am experiencing chronic GvHD (graft versus host disease). Hence, I was put back on almost all of my post-transplant medicines.

Oh the horror of being back on steroid! But it worked. Skin rashes, difficulty swallowing, and diarrhea were gone. Mouth sores lessened.

I physically felt better.

But I psychologically felt 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 news that I am still in remission. I sadly 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! Praise God, I am still here!

I am reminded of Psalm 34:19. I may have many troubles, but God delivers me from them all.

But is a powerful 3-letter word in the Bible. And God’s but is redemptive! Alleluia!