Saying Goodbye to Chemo


kcc_sculpture

It has been three weeks since Stacey’s last chemo and I when I stop, I am positive that the world’s spin is not quite as fast as it had been.   Three weeks back we finished chemo, two weeks ago we moved past the yucky week, and last week, we began to think about what comes next.    You can almost hear a collective exhale from the Masters clan.

The questions we toss about, might still be heavy, but we have been gifted with time and a day to day that isn’t about being sick.

Although there are still some long-term parts of this journey that we still need to travel  and face, and it will certainly be sometime before pre-cancer Stacey returns, we no longer feel like we are running for our lives.   Although there may be clouds that poke their way into our life from time to time, the crisis has moved off our immediate horizon, and we have started considering our next steps.   Cancer and the $150,000 monthly cocktails of drugs, no longer color every single breathing moment of our lives.   We find ourselves at a place where we are thankful, tired, a little poorer, a helluva lot closer, and very ready to move forward….6 months or a year at a time.

We are all thankful for the incredible kindness that has been shown our family as we learned to navigate this incredibly scary journey. In the end, ‘thank you’s or ‘promises to pay it forward’ do not seem enough.   When our world started shaking, and when it when from 0 to 60 mph overnight, people lined up to remind us we were not alone.   They held onto us and kept us from spinning off the ride.  Some just gave us space. For that simple fact, I will be forever grateful.

I imagine that it will be quite some time before we find ourselves back to whatever our normal will be, but today we are grateful to be able to begin that slow trek towards it.   Over the past eight months (from radiation through chemo) We have learned a great deal about each other, about the power of family and community, and we have found an overwhelming conviction of the unwavering and undeniable presence of the divine in all moments.

Each Sunday, I stand behind the pulpit with a great deal of caution and hesitation.   Since the start, one of my goals as a pastor was to not lose sight of the call to stand proudly before an ever-growing community and declare week in and week out that I am figuring it out too.   I don’t have all the answers.   I don’t even have all the questions yet.

Despite haven completed a few more classes on reading the Bible than the average Joe, I have yet to fill all the holes the desire for faith has revealed in my own life. I have doubt, I have fear, and I have a boat-load lot of questions.   I have a great number of bumps and bruises that I am desperately trying to either fix or cover. I wish I could move those mountains with an unwavering faith, but I am still a seeker and I too am simply trying to find my way.  Cancer likes to reveal those holes, doubts, and questions.

With both that confession and that reality front and center, let me share what I know to be certain (and as a result of this cancer I can now fully confirm). No matter what road blocks we put in front of God, or how stubbornly we assume otherwise, the divine continually invades all aspects of our life.   In the pain of the journey, it was clear that God stands with us. Today, as we stand in the joy of finished journeys, I know that God is here as well.   When we laugh, God will be there as readily and as visibly as when we cry.

Today, I know of several dear friends that are just beginning the journey that we have been navigating through, and my prayers for them are offered with heartbreaking intensity.  I pray for comfort, hope, health and assurance.   I pray that I can respond to them as well as our world responded to us.   Most importantly, I pray that cancer helps them see that they do not stand alone.

In the end, I guess I always knew, but I might owe a thank you to cancer for the less than gentle reminder.

No, screw cancer,…  Thank you.

 

(The Picture is of a sculpture that graces the entrance of the Norris Cotton Cancer in Keene NH.   Although elegant in its simple beauty, and chock full of meaning, I hope to never see that damn – but beautiful – thing again.)

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