Despite glorious fall colors and a leaf-crunching walk with Pippa today, it seemed fitting to read the book Snow Day! to her before her nap. Earlier this morning, Chris and I arrived at the Avera Infusion Center, dragging our feet more than usual as Chris was still weary from last week’s infusion. This past week was a hard one. Muscle aches, fatigue and a few other symptoms persisted and made his usual “bounce back” feel impossibly elusive. His labs this morning reported a platelet count of 100, the cut-off for infusion. The nurse gave us the option of going forward anyway even though a count of just one point lower would have made an infusion an automatic no-go. Should we drill down and push through another hard week? Put on our game faces and fight this thing anyway? What if the extra week is the straw that breaks the cancer-camel’s back?
Chris and I recently read the book God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s the biography of a man best known for smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. After Chris and I finished the book, we talked about how inspiring it was, but wondered how we might apply some of these elements of faith to our own lives. Our circumstances certainly couldn’t be more different. One aspect of his story stood out: he had a habit of “hiding” the Bibles in relatively easy-to-find places in his car, or even leaving them out on the seat next to him. And then he would pray that God would blind the eyes of the police who inspected the cars at the border. This way, he suggested, it would be obvious that it was God who miraculously brought the Bibles in and not his own ingenuity. In all his years of smuggling he was never caught.
A week or so ago, our doctor recommended that we take some weeks off of chemo (two on, one off). At first we rejected the idea, feeling driven to fight this cancer as hard as possible, do more than the recommended amount, go longer, go harder. We considered switching to a more aggressive doctor. And then our previous conversation came back to us–here was our opportunity to take a step of faith. If Chris gets better, it will be entirely God’s doing, not the fierceness of our fight. We will do our part as best we can, and we feel fortunate to have great care and an “outside the box and aggressive” treatment plan, but we know that these efforts are only as effective as God makes them. And He is not limited by a couple weeks off. So we may not be smuggling Bibles by faith into closed countries, but we are, by faith, relinquishing our roles as “fighters” and trusting God to use the people and plan He’s put in place to fight for us.
Which brings me back to today. We were again faced with a decision between going forward with treatment this week, even though it would have probably knocked Chris’s body down even more, or trusting God with Chris’s care and taking the needed week off. Of course the week off sounded good, but we struggle to let go of the need to control this fight and do as much as we can. We asked the nurse for a minute to decide and prayed. God, be our Counselor and our best Doctor and clear our minds to make a decision not influenced by fear or control. We opted for the Snow Day from chemo. A few minutes later, my mom texted and said she’d been praying Psalm 16:7-11 for us this morning. The first line of those verses reads,
“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel.”
As I read these words I marveled again at how God reminds us that He’s real, involved, and cares. My mom didn’t know we were specifically praying for God to be our counselor, but God knew it’s what we needed most this morning. Thanks, Mom, for listening and for praying :).
Next week was supposed to be Chris’s week off, but now we’re planning to resume treatment then. Please pray his blood counts and overall well-being improves during this break. In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy the spectacular fall leaves and make the most of our extended chemo Snow Day!