Arguably, we are in the midst of the best time of the year. The only reason I say “arguably” is because Andrew thinks Christmas tops March Madness. Clearly we’ve gone back and forth on this matter and we’re just going to agree to disagree. While brackets get busted and we dream of Butler’s miraculous back-to-back run to the NCAA Championship, we have our own kind of madness going on.
Andrew has officially completed the halfway point in his treatment. Granted, this is assuming that everything continues to go well and his body remains responsive to the chemotherapy, but hey, we’re feeling great about assuming that. To be frank, this past round has completely kicked our butts. Typically I don’t lump my feelings and weariness with Andrew’s, (after all, he is the one getting pumped with chemo every single day) but I’m right there with him for all of the twelve-hour days multiple times a week and we are exhausted. As always, Andrew has pushed and pushed and we will now take the next two to three weeks to allow his body to recover from the absolute demolition it’s been through this past month and then gear up for the second half.
So, halftime. Andrew and I both have reflected on what we’ve learned thus far and what we want to continue to carry into the second half of this battle. Yes, we’ve got some adjustments to make, but we’re happy to make them and see this thing through until we see the final buzzer declaring our victory.
Here are the top five lessons Andrew and I have learned from the first half. I’ll cover the first two and then Andrew will round out the last three, (that’s right folks, I have finally coaxed him into his blog debut!) J
1. People are good.
– Much thanks to many of you, our mailbox seems to always have an uplifting card and message of encouragement in it. Some from close friends and family, some from people we’ve never met and probably will never get the pleasure of doing so. Regardless, the positive words and prayers lift our spirits and remind us of the incredible community supporting the Smith family.
– I’ve never sat through one of Andrew’s treatments in an infusion room full of cancer patients without witnessing at least one random act of kindness. Even in the face of their own exhaustion, each patient is so quick to take care of another and remind each other that it’s going to get better.
– We have a large envelope full of handwritten letters from an entire 8th grade class from St. Michael-St. Gabriel Archangels School of Indianapolis, all of which uplifted Andrew and melted my heart. Those kids will never fully grasp how much that touched us. From messages of, “you’re going to get through this” to “I want to be just like you when I grow up,” each letter reminded us of the bigger picture of all of this.
2. Nurses, though appreciated by many, are still undervalued.
I have yet to meet a nurse that isn’t kind, passionate, and understanding. I could never express my deep, deep appreciation for the men and women who have tirelessly and endlessly taken care of my husband. Though my respect has always been high for these caregivers, my admiration has grown immensely.
3. Live each day without expectations.
When people say that during chemo you can feel great one day, and horrible the next they certainly are not lying. Countless times Samantha and I have tried to make plans to go out to eat on the weekend or visit the Boston Celtics as they play the Indiana Pacers, but we were cut short. These are things that are really taking us awhile to get accustomed to. We are still so blessed that I have been able to do almost all of my chemotherapy as an outpatient, but it still is admittedly hard to not hope and dream to be able to do normal things (like make a trip to PF Changs without getting sick) when I can feel so good the day before.
4. Having cancer teaches you patience.
I am on a pediatric regiment of chemotherapy because of how well younger children usually respond to my type of cancer, so it is intense. We have been told that I am extremely blessed that my body has been able to hold up enough to do all of this as an outpatient. But as nice as it is to be able to come home and sleep in our own bed, we are still at the mercy of our doctors. Three twelve-hour days at the hospital in one week isn’t a rarity, and typically we will not know when those days are coming. As Samantha has been with me literally every single step of the way, we are being forced to learn patience.
5. The amount of Jimmy John’s that one can eat is absolutely amazing.
As I have now been going through chemo for over two months I can rarely find foods that sound good to me, but for some reason Jimmy Johns is one of the exceptions. Even when my white blood cells are low enough to where I cannot have vegetables on my sandwich I still enjoy eating their sandwiches and chips to my heart’s content. Let’s just say that out of the last four weeks, twenty-eight days total, twenty of them at the hospital, I have probably had a sandwich fifteen of those days. I am often compared to a pregnant woman with my obsession with these sandwiches, but I do not mind the comparison because I cannot see my love for these delicious gourmet sandwiches changing anytime soon.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:2)