Since 2005 and my bout with tongue cancer, two months out of every year tend to make me more reflective on my life than the remaining ten. They are March and this month, August.
March, because of the surgery on my tongue to remove the cancerous tumor threatening my life and the removal of all the lymph nodes from the right side of my neck (affectionately referred to as a radical neck dissection). Lovely. You can read my most recent musing about that event and time here.
Now I find myself in another August seven years removed from finishing treatment which followed that surgery. It consisted of no less than thirty-eight radiation treatments to the tongue and neck along with four separate infusions of two kinds of chemo, the last of which occurred as a continuous infusion over four LONG days 24/7 in August of 2005. For a description of that particularly nasty napalm-like drug click here.
I just finished reading several entries from my journal in August of ’05. Suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty. Not pretty at all. It almost pained me to read my relentless postings of nausea, vomiting, mucous, gagging, metallic taste, sleeplessness, fatigue, scabbing, gagging, peeling, etc., day in and day out. The cumulative effect took its toll. On September 6, 2005 I wrote:
I know I’m not, but I felt abandoned last night. I kept praying as I turned off the lights, “Please, don’t abandon me God.” It wasn’t a good day. I was more tired than usual. Slept till 1 PM. I did some reading while watching football and then just gave in to the TV. Felt nauseous much of the day. Threw up around dinner time. Tongue is still sore. Mouth is still sore. Cheeks are swollen. Lower lip is still scabbing. It just goes on forever. Mucous still forming. What a routine of drudgery. When will relief come? Lord, have mercy. I am rebuked by Bonhoeffer’s final letter to his wife. He never felt abandoned [in prison] for all the support he had. I feel ashamed.
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. In seasons of such overwhelming agony where one wonders if ever the end will come and the temptation to believe that God indeed has abandoned you to your difficulty overwhelms, one and only one antidote suffices.
Pray for mercy.
Over and over again I prayed the same prayer. Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
We must take our cue from the psalmist in Psalm 42:1-3a.
With my voice I cry out to the LORD;with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.I pour out my complaint before him;I tell my trouble before him.When my spirit faints within me,you know my way!