UPDATE Susan 4-15-22
Traveling Companions! As I begin, today is April 13th— exactly nine months since stem cell transplant last July for multiple myeloma! Pause with me—a grateful celebration.
I contracted another cold last month. During the first year a cold can kill me as it takes my immune system a full year to get back a modicum of immunity. My body revved up a fever for a day. Tested twice—no covid. My immune system kicked in and I got over it in a week.
Other medical news: routine oncologist monthly appointment yesterday. Blood work looks good—as expected for a stem cell patient. As of last month, no telltale proteins present that indicate a return of myeloma. The maintenance monoclonal antibodies I am receiving are working. We’re so very grateful.
Of course, my beloved asks “How long…
…will the maintenance drugs work, Doctor?”
“They work until they don’t work.” He replies. HAR.
Just so you all know it is a given the maintenance drugs will stop working, or quit working so well, at some point. Read: no cure for multiple myeloma. It’s looking good for me right now. One might hesitate to say I’m in remission, however, my Dr did say many people now are living with Myeloma LRD (Low Residual Disease) so long that they actually die of something else. Smiling, Dr says,
“the goal is to die from something else.”
That’s an oncologist being funny. We’ll take it!
Today, Friday before Easter, is known in Christendom as Good Friday.
As I contemplate the “good” part of “Good Friday” I’m stuck asking myself if there could be a worse day in Jesus’ life? His best friends can’t stay awake to pray, he’s betrayed with a kiss (by one of his twelve disciples), whipped until his skin rips to shreds, a crown of thorn’s jammed on his head, he’s mocked, scorned, spit on, his beard pulled out, and then forced to try and carry the cross he would die on. Good you say?
I am reminded of my last two years: four vertebrae catastrophically collapse,
then are repaired albeit slapped with the word cancer, on we went to chemo and prep for stem cell transplant whereupon they find a brain tumor, out it comes, site becomes abscessed, site is reopened and washed out, the skull not replaced for months, finally it’s reopened and skull replaced, multiple chemotherapies and biologics along the way, a final blast of chemotherapy renders my immune system decimated. Scars and hair gone missing; the stem cell transplant begins…
I’m considering the possibility that naming adversity as something against me can be wrong thinking. Was God against Jesus, setting him up to die?
Can I wrap my mind around the idea that adversity can lead me to something good?
It’s called Rescue Day…
…the day they give the transplant patient their own stem cells back.
“Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us. So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud shadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall.”
Jesus praying at Gethsemane.
This is an enigma: people who have gone through unspeakable hell, admitting that on their own they’d never have chosen that path. But now they would not change a thing. Goodness.
Me? Would I choose cancer and brain tumor surgeries again? Hmmm. Some very good things have come from this ordeal of mine, that could come no other way. Unimagined goodness.
“…if we could only arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful.”
There’s that enigma.
Yet, in all that enigmatic unknowing, what I have found ringing in my ears: “…surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life” (psalm 23).
Holding to the difficult—turns out that a certain very hard Friday for Jesus was the beginning of something quintessentially good in my book. Sunday’s a comin’…Resurrection Day, the real Rescue Day.
Rescue Day. It doesn’t stop my difficulties. It saves me.
Thank you for listening to my/our Easter musings, may goodness and mercy find you in them.
Keep us kind and honest and good. This I ask in Jesus Name. A-MEN.
(All the above next quotes are from Rainer Maria Rilke—Letters to a Young Poet)
PS See that…my hair is growing. Not my favorite look but WAAAAY better than bald HAR.
Karl Hipple says
It’s been a long time but as I read this work, it makes me think: Susan and Laurie’ Laurie and Susan, you both have words that soothe the soul and make me think deeply that I am ungrateful and distracted from my God and Creator and what he has for me! From what you have written, it comes from the deep questions that come from suffering and an unsure future in live’s matters but drive me to think that there is something deeper as we approach meeting God at the end of our earthly existence. Praise God for you and your honesty and sharing your life and struggles.
Susan Cowger says
Karl, you are so right about how an unsure future, bumping up against our frailty, brings new perspective to life. Absolutely focuses me on unexpected holes and gaps, the depth and light therein. It has a way of separating acquaintances from friends and amplifying communion. Thankfulness becomes a never-ending feast. Remarkably–in the midst of seeming penury. As I say this, it seems cliche. Nevertheless, what may appear to be suffering is embedded with goodness that I have encountered no other way. How does one describe riches that are not that by any definition of the world? Yet there they are. Almost a secret language. The language of worship to my Savior.