I had my second round of chemo this week--it was interesting--lots of new side effects and reactions to the "cocktails" they are putting in my body. The good news: everything is easier when it isn't unfamiliar. Second round--I knew what to expect, but at the same time things were different.
My side effects have been a bit stronger: reaction to cold, tingling in my toes and fingers, cramping in my hands and feet, and some shooting pains in my jaw. And the biggie--my hair is falling out! Yep, I kept wondering why there were all these "phantom" hairs everywhere--in my ears, eyes, nose, and then I looked down and saw big wisps and chunks of hair--it's been coming out all morning. Now my doctor said I probably wouldn't lose my hair, but that it would thin out, so here we go!
My infusion buddy this week was Darlene Shadden--such a dear friend and so helpful. I had a new nurse and within five minutes I asked if I could "request" nurses for my therapy! (the answer is yes). Her name is Nakai--she is a beautiful, majestic woman--part African American, Hispanic and Cherokee--with bright eyes, huge smile, and a manner that is calm and loving. I immediately felt such peace when she was caring for me. With six hours of chemo in front of you, you have quite a bit of time to converse and get to know your nurse. We started talking about family and backgrounds and why she decided to go into oncology. She said that she learns so much from her patients--that it is a community that embraces life. Then we started talking about our mission trips--Darlene has been to Haiti numerous times (along with my hubby Greg) and our church, and I have been to Uganda twice with my precious son Noah and all my soul sistas and brothas from our Uganda team. Nakai told us that she has always wanted to do something like that, but that there has never been a good or right time. I listened, smiled, and calmly said, "There is never a convenient time". The day ensued and we talked more and more about mission trips, Darlene and I excitedly explaining how our times with the people in Haiti and Uganda have forever changed and shaped our lives. We invited Nakai to join us on a trip. We explained things to her, and that there would be a trip to Haiti in December and another Uganda trip in 2014. She came back later and said, "I'm signing up. I'm putting in my vacation time now". We were thrilled and then talked more, and she looked at me and said," You know how I told you I learned from my patients? Well, you said earlier--'there is no convenient time'--and you are so right. There isn't, and I am signing up". Well boo-ya--there is God at work in the infusion center. You can't deny that one, nope, not even if you try.
Then we got all giddy talking about Uganda next year and how I will be cancer free and get to go back with my whole family ALONG with my INFUSION center nurse! And we will have a huge celebration together in the village of Guru Guru! Now that's gonna be a party.Sounds funny, but I can't wait to go back for round three in two weeks and spend more time with Nakai.
No excuses people--there is never a convenient time for anything. We always have something--an appointment, a sports event or practice for our kids, a business event we MUST attend, a school function. We get so inundated with activities that we think that we can't say NO to something. We can choose to do things that free us and let us simply enjoy people and life. Going on mission trips costs time, money, energy, and forces you to choose how you use your time, your vacation, your freedom. It is not convenient, but it is so worth it.
So here are some No Excuses guidelines I want to share with a few of you....the list could go on forever, but I will save my soap box for another time.....start with these....
Guys: Get your "male" exam. Stop being a wimp about it and just do it. Do something for your girlfriend, wife, or friend "just because". You don't need Mother's Day on the calendar to buy a card and flowers. Spend quality time with your kids. Not in front of the tv or at a movie theater (although that is okay some times).
Gals: Get your "female" exams. Stop saying that you will put it on the calendar after all your kids' appointments are taken care of. Get your mammogram. Get your colonoscopy. It isn't that bad. Really. Find time to go to lunch with a friend and get it on the calendar. Have a drink at that lunch.
Teens: Try a real convo instead of texting. Learn to look a friend in the eye and have a heart to heart conversation. Learn the true art of communication. Write a thank you card to a mom, teacher, or role model. Don't be generic--be specific. Write your own words--don't rely on a Hallmark sentiment. Maybe something like this (sent to me from Katie Williams Patton--a student and friend who I had back in the 80's!)
I can't let "Teacher Appreciation Week" go by without appreciating one of my all time FAVORITE teachers. You had quite an impact on me many years ago, and you continue to teach, inspire, and amaze me as I follow your courageous battle against cancer. They say "to teach is to touch a life forever." When it comes to you, that saying is 100% accurate. You have truly touched my life, and for that I will be forever grateful.
(Thanks Katie--I love you and am so proud of you)
No excuses, take a few moments to do things that may not be convenient, that may take a little time out of your regular schedule, but that will remind you of the importance of embracing the fullness of life, friendship, and family.