Monday, May 16, 2016

The Bad With The Good

Since my last post was fairly controversial, I'll start today's post with the least controversial statement ever: Cancer is bad. There's nothing good about it. But there is good that can come from it. I have experienced many good things that are a direct result of my cancer. As with everything in life, we have to take the bad with the good. Or the good with the bad.

I have bad days and good days. This weekend was a good example. Saturday was a wonderful day. I was able to work out in our gym on Saturday morning for the first time in months. We spent the afternoon with close friends. We hadn't seen some of them since Thanksgiving, which made it that much more special. It was a great time. But it came at a price.

Because I had worked out that morning, and the drive to our friends' house is 45 minutes each direction, and I spent much of the day on my feet, I "hit the wall" on Sunday. As soon as my wife and I finished making and eating lunch, (a big batch of chicken vegetable soup intended to supply my wife's lunches for the week) I had to go to bed and sleep for a few hours. I also had to cancel another social gathering I was planning to attend that night which involved a long drive in both directions. I just couldn't make the drive as tired as I was, even after a nap.

Good days and bad days. Many times, after a really good day, when I feel strong and I get a lot done, I pay for it the next day. I think that's mainly because of the Lupron in my system. It affects my endurance. It makes me weaker than I used to be. Not that I was ever that strong.

But I have it a lot easier than many guys I know of that are on Lupron or other hormone treatments. As much as I have complained in this blog about what it does to me, overall, it hasn't been that bad, especially since my second shot on March 1st. The hot flashes are mild, (at least until the weather gets hot - I dread that), I haven't experienced the loss of muscle tone yet that many guys face from Lupron, and the 5-HTP supplement I'm taking has been a godsend when it comes to improving my mood and muting the anger that seems to come from hormone treatment.

So even though there are negative aspects to this treatment, there are also positives. I'm glad that I'm able to tolerate hormone treatment better than many guys are. But I don't like the fact that it makes me unable to do some things I used to do. I'm taking the good with the bad. Or the bad with the good.

I haven't heard anything about whether I'll lose my health coverage yet. I expect to know before the end of the month. But I'm at peace with whatever happens. If my coverage continues, I'll stay with Lupron for as long as it keeps working. If not, I'm done with conventional treatment for the time being, if not for good. I'm OK either way.

Because of the aggressiveness of my cancer, I only expect to get one or two more Lupron shots before my PSA starts rising again, signaling that Lupron is no longer effective. I'm not due for my next shot until September. If I don't have coverage then, I'm happy to move on to something else. In that eventuality, I will simply wait and keep getting bloodwork done until my PSA starts rising. When that happens, I'll look into naturopathic treatment.

My wife and I have already decided not to do any type of chemo. We just don't believe in it. I'm not crazy about the idea of radiation, either. Once I'm done with hormone treatment, those are the only options covered by insurance and Medicaid anyway. So losing coverage will only accelerate the process of moving on to something more naturopathic. I'm fine with that.

My oncologist, radiation oncologist, nutritionist, and therapist are covered by Medicaid. If I have to stop hormone treatment, and intend to refuse chemo and radiation, I won't need my oncologist or radiation oncologist. My nutritionist's program has worked very well for me. I've reached my goal weight and have been able to maintain it for the last two weeks, so I think I'll be alright without a nutritionist for the time being.

And yes, I am going to take some of my homemade chocolate ice cream to my nutritionist. I tried to do so last week, but she's on vacation. I'll do it when she gets back. That will be fun.

It's my therapist that I'll really miss if I lose coverage. We're just getting started. But I am getting my work done, which was the original reason for going. If I have to stop at the end of May, at least I'm confident that I'll be able to finish well. Having to stop therapy is the only bad part of losing coverage right now. But I have to take the bad with the good, if it comes to that.

I doubt that my wife and loved ones will allow me to simply stop treatment at this time. They won't stand for that idea. My benefactors, in particular, will make sure that I accept their offers of help. While it's bad that I need their help, it's very good that help is available to me. I have friends who are going through prostate cancer treatment who have no help. My heart aches for them, and I pray for them every day. It must be hard for them to see the good in all that's bad right now.

And that's the really good thing that's come from this for me. The relationships. The connections. I've made friends in the online support group in which I'm active. Not just Facebook friends, but real ones. People who I love, but have never met. It's a wonderful thing.

The friendships I had before I was diagnosed are, for the most part, better than ever. I now combine friends and family into one category: Loved ones. I have friendships with family members, and friends who I consider family. I love all of them, and I feel very loved. That's a very good thing.

With our financial difficulties, it's easy for me to resent the financial advantages that others have. One of my favorite pastimes has always been going to rock concerts. Now, they're all out of reach, financially. When a concert comes up that all of my friends are going to, I have to pass on it. But I shouldn't complain too much, considering the advantages that I have that others don't.

I have the advantage of being somewhat well known because of my work, and my prominence in a large church in a big city. That made it much easier to raise support in the early days of my illness. It was and remains a great blessing that I don't take for granted, and never will. I'll sacrifice concert tickets for help with cancer treatment. Fair trade.

I have the advantage of a godly, loving family, who love me unconditionally and pray for me constantly. I can't imagine what going through cancer must be like for those who don't have that.

I have the advantage of a newfound purpose. A new passion and calling. Writing this blog. I hope it helps you in some way, but I admit that it helps me more than anyone else. If I was faced with the declining career in music that I have now, and had nothing else to inspire me, this journey would be much more difficult. Many who deal with cancer find a new path that has meaning for them, but many do not. I encourage everyone on this road to find something new to do that inspires you. The bad news is, the you that existed prior to your cancer is probably never coming back. But the good news is that the new you can be better in many ways. I have found this to be true in my life.

You may not have loved ones with the financial means to help you. You may not be well known. You may not have the kind of family that I have. But you can find a new passion. Search your heart. What do you love? What task never gets old, no matter how much you do it? God will help you find that. He helped me find mine. Actually, two of my best friends first mentioned CaringBridge to me; Tiffany Berland (#tiffanysaid) and Nancy Wardell. That's where this blog started. Once I took their advice, God started blessing it. I was off to the races. If you listen to those closest to you, they may be able to point you in the right direction. But you have to listen.

The greatest good to come from this for me is also available to you. It's for everyone. My relationship with God today is unlike it's ever been before. I can't imagine going through this without that. Cancer stripped away every pretense I had. Things I used to think were so important faded to insignificance. All that was left was God, and my loved ones. I learned how to love, and how to be loved. Because God is love, in case you haven't heard. All love originates in him. When we love unconditionally, we are most like God.

So why should I not take the bad with the good? Or as Job 2:10 says, "Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" Many learned this lesson long ago. I don't think even Job was the first to learn it. But I didn't learn it until I got hit by God's 2 by 4. At least I know it now, just when I really need it. Because at the end of all of the bad, what waits for me is the ultimate good. Eternal love with an eternal God of love, with all of my loved ones.

So for now, I'll take the bad with the good. And the good with the bad. #waroncancer

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your writing...your opening my eyes to so many things. I will continue to pray for you!!