Cancer has Taught Me the Cure: We Have to Follow Christ.

Cancer has Taught Me the Cure: We Have to Follow Christ. August 18, 2016

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word

I wrote this last week for the National Catholic Register.


I’ve been trying to find my way back into writing for quite a while. It isn’t easy.

Every time I think I’m moving forward, I fall down. I get sick again; not cancer sick, but too sick to do anything. I get colds, kidney infections, gastrointestinal thingies, then I get another cold, and so on and so forth.

Each little illness — and these things come at me like they were being fired from a repeating rifle — takes the little bit of pizazz that I’ve mustered and smashes it flat. I have to rebuild my stamina, and yes, my interest in the world outside the confines of my personal life, all over again. Then, just as I’m peeking over the rim, I get hit with another illness.

These things take me down in a way that colds and such have not in times past. I don’t remember ever missing a day’s work over a cold or a kidney infection. No matter what happened, my verve for doing kept right on keeping on. It has fueled me all my life. But cancer extinguished that verve in a deep, deep way. My focus switched to an all-out fight for my life.

In addition to wearing me down, cancer shifted the things I care about. What mattered to me, in fact all that mattered, was Jesus, my family and a few friends. Whatever verve I had left went to cuddling my granddaughter and taking my Mama out for drives.

There was a time — quite a long time — when I could do neither. In fact, there was a period of at least a couple of weeks where my memory was so drug-laden that it’s just a spotty series of scenes that I sort of remember.

I had one tough instance of runaway high blood pressure. I had daily visits from nurses for a few weeks. They were wonderful and probably saved my life when the blood pressure went wacko. The nurse caught it and went to bats with the docs that they had to do something about it. I don’t remember a lot of things, but I do remember her telling a doc “You have to act. I will not leave this patient in this condition. I don’t want a mastectomy to stroke out on me.”

The odd part of that memory is that a friend of mine was Rebecca-sitting during this whole event. She came to my house each morning as my husband was leaving for work and stayed with me all day. I remember we watched movies and that she helped me strip drains and such.

Later, when I was trying to remember the big mess with the blood pressure, I asked her, “Were you there when that happened?” She smiled and said, “Yes, I was.”

Another time, I was telling her about how heavy my Kirby vacuum cleaner is and bragging that I had been able, for the first time in a long time, to vacuum my living room floor. She smiled and said, “I used that vacuum to clean your house when I was taking care of you.” I have no memory of that.

There’s a lot I don’t remember, and a lot I do (Read the rest here.)

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5 responses to “Cancer has Taught Me the Cure: We Have to Follow Christ.”

  1. Wow, Rebecca, I don’t know what to say except—with your faith in hand, you are even stronger than I thought you were to begin with. I know you will keep fighting like you have already. PLEASE don’t push yourself to post all the time—I think we will understand when there isn’t a new post on some days. I’m sure you want to get back to “normal” but your normal is now changed. You are cared for and are important to many, many folks. Take very, very good care!!

  2. If I may go off topic, relief efforts are beginning to the flooded areas of South Louisiana. One of my favorite groups to give to is The Texas Baptist Men. They are just a bunch of grizzled old Baptists who ride out to disasters with food, water, clothes and other supplies. They were in Moore after the tornado, if memory serves.

    To donate:

    Franklin Graham and his Samaritan’s Purse is in the scene, too. The local Catholic Charities folk are all affected by the flood, but other chapters are probably helping out, too.

    Rebecca, if this is inappropriate, just delete it. Won’t hurt my feelings at all. But I do believe the Corporal Works of Mercy please the Lord

  3. Rebecca, healing will be slow; you will not have stamina for quite a while. Recovery from chemo & radiation is not like recovery from a cold. With a cold you get rid of the virus and the rest of the body’s systems were pretty much left untouched. Not so with chemo and radiation. The doctors’ told me it would take 6 months to get back to normal. HAH! More like 18 months to build up the stamina. And I became compulsive about not touching door handles and public surfaces to avoid infection. To this day, 8 years after completing treatment I still touch public door handles with either a paper towel or push the door open with my elbow.