Apr 11, 2013 - 3:38 am
NOTE: This story is shared not to depress but to ensure others who may have to take this path that even though you have days such as this, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
For me personally I could not have made it without my Lord's comfort and hope that there is a reason for all I was going through, and in the end no matter the outcome He would take care of my family.
In my situatin the Lord showed grace in that I am now enjoying my family and friends and my faith is stronger (even though I too have the same concerns and worry all cancer survivors do about recurrence). No matter the number of days left for me, all I went through has been a blessing. I learned so much about me and though I thought I knew how precious life and my family was, they are even more so to me today.
A Down Day After Treatments - One of my many stories:
It was not long after my last treatment that I was back home to recover. The one thing they told me was that I will “continue to cook” for several weeks after my final radiation session. My neck was burned quite badly and the pain level was high. Jennifer was working late that evening and I was home with all the kids, my thirteen year old daughter “Georgia” was holding down the fort. She is a responsible thirteen year old and had actually spent one week with me at the treatment center 100 miles from home (I was able to park an RV in the treatment center parking lot which provided a limited number of RV spaces with electricity and water only). In fact I would venture to say the announcement of my cancer and the subsequent treatment plan “we” as a family endured probably added several years of maturity rather quickly to my daughter, being she was faced with such a life changing event.
I had rarely ventured out of bed since arriving home (little did I know at the time this would continue to be the case for another 5 weeks) as my body was fighting to recover from the chemo and radiation treatments it had endured. The only time I did get out of bed was to use the restroom.
This particular night had been no different than the last week or more, I felt horrible. No way to describe the pain and fatigue, but certainly the saying “hit by a truck” was about as accurate as one could get. I had gotten up to make the very short trip to the bathroom. Something was not quite right, but I did not know what. Still the same pain and fatigue level, but I could tell I was running a fever. Fever, cancer, radiation and chemo are never a good mixture. It’s often a sign something has gone wrong and the body has gone into defense mode.
I had my daughter bring me the thermometer while in the restroom, yep, fever was 101 degrees. I was beginning to shake and felt uneasy on my feet. I was attempting to get back to the bedroom when the bottom fell out. My body began to shake uncontrollably. My daughter (checking in on me) saw what was happening and became alarmed. I swore her to secrecy on the fever and just asked her to help me get back to the room where I could lie down. Of course my daughter being very much like her mother would have none of that. She immediately called mom and tattled. That in turn set off a half dozen cell phone calls with two different ring tones going off (mine and my daughters). What was strange, and no doubt most alarming to my daughter, was my jaw / mouth was shaking uncontrollably along with the rest of my body. Thinking back on it (having experience as a volunteer ambulance driver) it was the same symptoms as people who I had witnessed going into shock. Now I could admit I was scared too.
Georgia took over, she told me “mom” was on her way and would be here shortly. My daughter informed me she was “in charge” and I was to lie still and stay covered (not a problem as I was now freezing and still shaking to the bone). I was very weak, could not talk, I could only grunt and nod as Georgia gave directions and kept asking if I was okay. She then crawled up in the bed next to me and began rubbing my head and patting me as if I were the family pet. I could tell she was nervous, scared even, but I just had no strength to comfort her with words.
The next thermometer reading was at 102.1 degrees. Another call to mom (who was walking out of work as they spoke), she would be here in minutes.
It was at that moment and time Georgia (still lying next to me and rubbing my head) let out this large, long sigh. You know that saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”? Well, that sigh from my daughter was worth a thousand words. That “sigh” spoke volumes. It was a sigh of a thirteen year old who was afraid, hurting, stressed the way any child would be over a sick loved one, in this case a parent, her Dad. I felt terrible. I felt guilty. There was just no way to protect her from all that was happening. She had witnessed a lot in the last 7 weeks. She had witnessed her father shrink almost 70lbs. She had witnessed her father have emergency gallbladder surgery, burns to the neck so severe it looked as if the skin was coming off. She had spent a week feeding me through a feeding tube in my stomach and making sure I was comfortable in a 24 foot RV while going through radiation treatments. It was more than any parent would wish on their child.
It was directly after that “sigh” as she continued to rub my head that Georgia said out loud in a low voice (as if talking to herself) “I just need you to be well Dad, I just need you to be well”.
This time I had a specific prayer request. I whispered under my breath “Lord, whatever happens please just take care of my family, please take care of my children”. I said that prayer with as much sincerity and as much “from the gut” as any prayer I had ever said in my entire life.
Fast forward seven months from my last radiation treatment and as I write this I am down to one or two pain pills a day. I have nearly all my taste back. Though my throat is half the size it was (and most likely will always be that way) I can swallow and eat most any foods. On top of all that, my last scan of the head and neck came back NED. Ned stands for “No Evidence of Disease”. It’s what every person who has ever had cancer wants to hear every time they have a follow-up scan.
No one will ever convince me the Lord does not hear prayer, and at times of His choosing take pity, even from the worst of sinners.
~ Tim Cogdill / Head & Neck Cancer Survivor