Chemo for Christmas

The contrast of the peppy chirping out of the words to “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” through the speakers above me and the guttural, barely audible groaning of my momentarily atrophied spirit were so absurd it grew comical in my mind. My face felt detached from my thoughts and my expression must have reflected the same thing. Stoic-emotionless-there. We were in the ER. Jesse reacted to the contrast during his November MRI. An unexpected first for him. And then the scans came in, and the white spots on the brain that represent tumor had shifted ever so slightly. And the words started flowing out. Medical terms. Among them, the one word no one wants to hear. “Chemotherapy”.

We started on oral chemo last week, and ended up back in the ER with adverse side effects. Today, I am typing this from the hospital where we are attempting chemo via IV. If it goes well, this will be our lives every two weeks for an indeterminate amount of time. Another new normal.

I’ve been processing through all of this since our last scan day at the end of November. Nothing has really changed for us. We are still living the same life we have been since September 2015, but that one word. “Chemo”. It feels as though everything is different. The rational part of me is patiently repeating to self that everything is still the same. The emotional side of me has been stunned with irrationality born of weariness. And I’ve wondered so often, “Why does it all seem so much weightier now when nothing has actually changed in our day to day lives?”

It is just a word, just a med, just another step in the process, after all. You know what I think it is about chemotherapy, though?

Chemo screams “CANCER!”. And cancer screams “FEAR ME!”. Because cancer also screams “DEATH! MORTALITY! THE END!”


But how appropriate that chemo would come to us at the same time as the Christmas season. Because cancer may scream “THE END!”, but Christmas resounds with shouts of “THE BEGINNING!”. The beginning, beloveds, of hope. REAL hope of the eternal sort. Hope that does not waiver in the face of cancer’s cries of despair. Hope who was born into our human form to live a flawless life. Hope who chose to die a sacrificial death so that, when faced with scary diseases and frightening medications and unknown timelines, we can lift up our eyes and let the vibrant Light who is Christ-just like the star that shone physically on this earth to mark the arrived King all those years ago, saturate and warm our upturned, longing, tear-streaked, weary faces-even today. Seek the Light. Turn your face into it and chase it. Do not stop. Do not hesitate. Do not look away. Like the shepherds and the wise men, seek Him relentlessly until you have found Him. And when you find Him, do not let go of His outstretched hands. This life, my lovelies, is not about the fact that the Lord who wove time can heal a cancer-stricken body from temporary disease, though He can and often does…It is about the fact that healing for all eternity has already been granted even while our bodies waste away here; because He came. God be praised, Hope has come!

**Today is our 15th Wedding Anniversary-We like to keep things interesting around here ;)-so I thought I’d throw in some pictures of us from December 15, 2001 (a little pre-beard Jesse for ya’)!