Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray With Me”.
My first round of chemo for colon cancer landed me in the hospital with a broken digestive system. Two weeks later and twenty pounds lighter, they sent me home. My digestion wasn’t back to normal, but it was usable.
My oncologist summoned me back to the cancer clinic to discuss resuming chemo.
I said, “I don’t want to repeat that experience.”
He said, “We don’t want you to repeat it either.”
So we agreed on a second round of chemo at a 60% dose, starting after Christmas.
On December 28, they gave me a two-hour intravenous drip of chemo meds, and sent me home with two weeks of chemo pills. Happy New Year, Daniel!
I resumed my familiar routine: Omelet and pills in the morning, chemo pills for dessert after dinner. After two weeks, my digestion was out of order again, so I prescribed my own solution: an easy-to-digest, mostly liquid diet, while my body tried to flush out chemo meds.
My wife added popsicles to my recovery diet. Omelet for breakfast, popsicles for lunch, canned peaches with yogurt for dinner. The Michelin restaurant reviewers did not drop by to review my culinary adventures.
The cancer clinic sampled my blood for a third round of chemo, and sent me home because my white blood cell count was low. The next week, my cells achieved the minimum passing grade. Yay . . .
This time, they added a growth hormone to the mix, and prescribed a syringe to self-inject it on my third day of chemo pills.
The doctor said, “This encourages your bone marrow to produce more white cells. You might get growing pains–achy bones and muscles–like when you were growing up.”
I have always wanted to grow up, but injecting myself with growth hormones didn’t make it happen. Instead, it made me ache all over. Miserable and fatigued, I spent a weekend sleeping unhappily on the couch.
When round three ended, I restocked my popsicles for another round of digestive recovery. The good news was, my bone marrow responded to the popsicles and growth hormones, creating enough white cells to start round four of chemo on schedule. One last infusion of intravenous meds. Two final weeks of chemo breakfasts and desserts. One last self-injected syringe of growth hormones.
On March 1, I finished chemo. At last my body would have an opportunity to eliminate the poisons that persisted and the meds that lingered. Was the end in sight for abnormally dry hands, tingling feet, treacherous digestion, and endless fatigue?
Now, nearing the end of April, I eat almost normally. My hands and feet have improved. I still fatigue easily. And I am re-integrating into society.
My first Sunday back at church I said to my friends, “The doctor cleared me to re-enter civilized society.”
Our father, my chemo companions were the Bible and Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and our dog, Wall-E. The dog shared my long cold chemo winter. The Bible promised that endurance produces character. Dostoevsky held out hope that even the worst of us can find new life.
Thank you that I have finished chemo. Thank you for the family that supported me and the church that prayed for me and the Christ who lives in me and the Easter story that shifs my focus from death to life.
O father, clear out the poisons in my life. The remnants of chemo meds and the sin that so easily entangles me (Heb 12:3).
As Paul said, “Let us celebrate the resurrection, not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:8).
I’m Daniel, on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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