We have a philosophy in youth ministry about “Dress Up” and theme nights—you know, those times where we have an “80’s Rock Star” night, or a Neon night or a Country Hoe Down event. It’s not just about throwing some fun into ministry—there is a lot more to it. You see, when we “dress up” and put on masks, we level the playing field. Teens (and adults) are bombarded every day with pressure about how they look, how they act, what they say and do. We live in a world of status ladders and comparison. For teens, this is especially crushing, and the insecurities they deal with are devastating. But on a night when we are all geeky, nerdy, downright silly and crazy, we have toppled that status ladder. We have smiles, laughter, genuine fun, and unity. Funny that when we dress up and put on masks, we can be break down walls and be ourselves, even for just one night.
A musical artist named Macklemore performed a song that swarmed the charts a few months ago—called “Thrift Shop”. The full, explicit lyrics that you don’t hear on the radio are absolutely horrible and appalling, but unfortunately the song, the beat and the bridge are catchy. If you haven’t heard it, the main bridge says, “I wear your granddad’s clothes/I look incredible/I’m in this big a—coat/From that thrift shop down the road.” (I know some of you are bumping to the beat right now). This past week I had the opportunity to “dress up” and have a blast—not once, but twice. The first was our Oasis youth group’s end of year bash called “Tacky Prom” where I got to hang out with my favorite teens as they were dressed in an array of outlandish outfits. We had a photo booth, played crazy games, sang karaoke songs at the top of our lungs, and oh, we learned about Jesus too! A bunch of kids from different schools, different social groups-- all connecting as one in our thrift shop clothes….and let’s not forget that no drugs or alcohol were involved in this event. Yes, teens can have a blast without those red Solo cups in hand.
The second time I “dressed up” was at our pastoral staff retreat. Our leadership team at church headed to Palm Desert for two days of planning, sharing, dreaming, and praying. But the bonding and laughter (even though my chemo side effects were in full effect) was incredible. On our last day, our fearless leader Jack (amazing pastor, dad, friend, and man of God) took us to the Palm Springs thrift shop and we all had to choose an “outfit” for dinner that night. Just the shopping itself was a blast, but when we were all dressed and “in character”, the craziness hit. We headed to a sports bar (Buffalo Wild Wings) in all our finery and just had good, clean fun (and entertained our waiter immensely)--even though the smells of the dinner caused me to run into the bathroom and dry heave and not eat all night. Yes, we got lots of stares, but who cares? Level the playing field. That’s what Jesus wants—just level the playing field. He doesn’t care what we look like, what we wear, who we hang out with, what our background is, what our social or financial status is—he sees us just the way we are—not dressed up, wearing masks, hats, or thrift shop clothes-- but naked and bare, real and vulnerable, and he loves us. Oh, how He loves us.
So let me take off my pink hat from the thrift shop and tell you about how chemo round two has been going. It hasn’t been as easy this time. I’m leveling the field and being vulnerable and real.
As I told you in my last post, this round of chemo gave me newer, stronger side effects, but they subsided a bit by last Friday (the tingling and cramping in fingers, and my hair isn't falling out as much). However, I got new side effects this week and they weren't fun at all. For the first time I experienced some pretty intense nausea and another symptom that I won't go into detail (you really don't want to know that detail). My skin is sloughing off a lot and it hurts--basically what it is--all the pre cancer cells on my skin are being affected by the chemo and burning off. But it is very intense and abrasive and actually hurts. My nurse teases me and says that I am getting a dermabrasion that many women pay thousands of dollars for--and she says, "It is free with your chemo treatment!" Wednesday and Thursday of this week were the worst. So, I am hoping they will subside. But let me give you the good news....
I met with my oncologist on Thursday and we reviewed all my symptoms and looked at pain and symptom management--reviewed my meds--what is working and what isn't and what I need to step up or take out. They showed me my blood counts from both rounds of chemo and said that if they sent this to my primary care doctor, he wouldn't even know I am going through chemo! They said my counts are great and that my pulse, blood pressure and all vitals are staying on course. But the best news is that my doctor did a special panel on my "tumor counts"--not sure the words he used, but basically it is a panel that measures my tumors and their number and size. He says it has gone way DOWN! This is a great thing! So he is ordering a scan for me to see how things look. What this means is that depending on what they see, they may change my treatment plan--may get surgery sooner with less chemo and maybe no radiation (this isn't a for sure--just a scenario until we see the scan). Both my nurse and my doctor still call me their star patient and my doctor walked in and said, "How's my girl?" It must be so nice for them to have a patient who is getting better--I can't imagine all the pain and sadness they have to deal with.
As I am just getting through these side effects (they are still here), I head into round three of chemo on Monday, May 20. So, I ask all of you, my friends, to keep me in your prayers for strength. Chemo breaks a body down and that is its purpose as it kills off those yucky cells. But would you all join me in praying for a CURE—for all cancer. At my infusion center alone, they treat 160 patients per day. Another friend of mine was diagnosed this week with breast cancer. That is two friends besides me in just two months. I have friends who are devoting their life’s work to finding a cure. Let’s believe that can happen. And while we are doing that, let’s believe in the mighty Healer, Jesus Christ, who was and is, and is to come.
Blessings and love, Kirsten