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This Time is Harder

Life can be difficult. Even on days when you open your arms wide to embrace the day, filled with hope and optimism, the world manages to deliver a bit of reality, slapping you up the side of the head with a truth that shakes you to the very core of your being.

Planes fall out of the sky, the earth quakes in destruction, people rob and kill. We hurl hate upon each other because of different points of view. There is disappointment, grief, sadness and pain. It is hard to be a citizen of this world without pondering the “what ifs,” especially as trouble comes to knock on your door. There is no doubt that life is going to deliver its share of tough times. And yet, none of us can happily reside in that place of anxiety and fear, which robs us of peace. It is a poor domicile, one which will only lead to discontent.

I have tried to be honest with myself and readers as I use this means to chronicle my cancer journey. I wanted to reside in an authentic place, as I openly shared both the physical and emotional consequences of being so sick. Quite frankly, I had hoped that once I had endured the first course of treatment and surgery that I had been cured, that the despicable beast would never appear in my life again. And regardless of the statistics, given my stage at diagnosis, I thought myself to be one of the lucky one who would beat the odds. But life often has other plans for us. And as I have regularly reminded myself, I control little to nothing.

This time feels different. This time is more difficult.

The disease has taken its toll on my body. I am not as strong as I was when I began this fight two years ago. They have added another chemo drug to my regiment, which means eight-hour infusions that tax my strength and reserves. Some days are a real struggle physically. I seem to use the word challenging far too often to describe my current treatment, but that's what it is. And this week has been tough. I experimented with the nausea meds that made me feel out of it for days, deciding that I would skip them this time and use the milder prescription.. Big mistake. The unrelenting churning in my stomach made me ever so sick. That was followed by a urinary tract infection and random bone pain. To round out my luck, I developed folliculitis, a painful blistering of the scalp caused by the rapid hair loss and an immune system too weak to fight it. I am considering changing my name to Job. I suppose the feminine version of that would be Jobina. Somedays, I feel like I am merely a pawn as life tosses me this way and that.

But there is an emotional price to pay as well. When you are first diagnosed, folks rally around in support, anxious to help. The stand with you with words of encouragement and hugs. You receive cards in the mail, and friends come to visit. The casserole buddies appear at your doorstep with food, which you gratefully accept because you are far too ill to cook. Family members gladly run errands and text several times a day just to see how you are feeling. It is all so comforting and appreciated. Those who stay in your life as you battle cancer are the true heroes, and you never forget their kindness. But they are few and far between.

Truth be told, people fear sickness. Perhaps that are reminded of their own vulnerability or perhaps they simply find it hard to watch the inevitable suffering that is sure to come. They worry about not knowing how to help or saying the right word, so sometimes, they run away, leaving you to wonder what you did to alienate them. The sound of crickets is a lonely one, especially in the wilderness. And so, yes, this time has been harder because my support system has become smaller with each infusion. My team of cheerleaders has moved on to other pastimes. They are busy with their own lives. I understand. But for me, loneliness has been the most difficult by-product of having cancer.

It is interesting how God has designed us, so perfect in our imperfections. And I have come to understand that the heart is too soft to break. It just bruises a little. All the while, it keeps on beating.

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