Sunday, January 04, 2015

"Working" it out

Around the time I was 16, or 17, I went through confirmation at church.  As most in my confirmation class probably did, I was doing what I had to do...and going through the motions.  (Maybe that was just me...) I didn't dwell too deeply on the steps I took, or the process itself.  I just did it. We all did.

I remember that I chose St. Martha as my confirmation name.  It was an easy choice because my sponsor's name was Martha.  It seemed fitting.

Lately many things I have read have centered around St. Martha and I am only now realizing just how fitting it was...and still is.

You see, my mind is a very slippery slope.  I have already confessed to worrying about NOT worrying, but, sadly, I also have to constantly be doing something and, unfortunately, worrying counts as something.  Many times I even have to do TWO "somethings". 

For example:  I can't just watch TV. I have to watch TV and also read, or scan Facebook, or jump up and do another load of laundry, or dust that shelf that I just noticed had dust on it, get the picture.  My mind also consists of a laundry list of tasks to "check off" before I give myself permission to relax.  Each day I have an "order of events" of sorts, that allows me to effectively use up any "down time" I might encounter.

Yeah.  Mentally and physically I am always checking things off of lists. And, as you might imagine, there is rarely any "down time".

Since Steven's diagnosis I had categorized his treatment into three parts, never letting my mind actually wrap itself around what happened after the "third part".

Part One:  Round one of chemo in Springfield.
Part Two: Second round of chemo
Part Three:  Transplant

And now here we are.  The third part has been completed. 

The "Martha" in me has been busy up until now.  I've had a very real list of jobs to accomplish and at the very top of that list was making sure that Steven had everything he needed, whenever he needed it, and giving him "encouragement" that I know (at times) he didn't want. 

However, now we are no longer in the hospital and each day he is stronger and stronger.  Waiting on him hand and foot is no longer needed or wanted, and my "jobs", are dwindling.  Unlike being in your own home, here, in this rented duplex, there are very few things that have to be done daily.  With only two people there is very little laundry, and even less mess.  There are no toys left out, and no homework to help with.  There are no kids to listen to, and no one to argue with about what I am fixing for supper.

The "Martha" in me is scampering around trying to find work; to be busy and, at the same time, be helpful.  When the (two) dishes have been washed, and the (one load of) laundry has been put up, I have found myself filling up the time with worry.  And anxiety.  And fear.  And tears.

You see.  The "work" part of Steven's treatment has been completed.  Now it is time to wait.  It is time to be still.  It is time to be patient. 

And I am not good at any of those.


She (Martha) had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
—Luke 10:39–42


I believe that, like most things, it is probably not coincidental that the story of Martha and her sister have been reappearing in the things I have read this week. 

I feel the need to stress that I am not someone who immerses themselves daily in all things Biblical, and holy, or Catholic-for that matter. I am just an ordinary person who is sometimes weak, who sometimes gets angry, who is sometimes selfish, and who is sometimes spiteful.  I am also someone who realizes that without God, I would never be anything but those things.

And although I am by no means an authority on God, or how He works, I am someone that believes -right or wrong- that God meets you where you are.  I think that is probably one of the biggest blessings God gives us. He doesn't wait for you to get it "all right", or for you to have your laundry list of  self-improvements checked off.  He comes to you as you are.

This week, He has came to me in many ways.  And the recurring theme of His message to me was the same message that he told Martha: "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed."  I need to continually remind myself that all I am called to do is to sit at the Lord's feet and listen to what He says.

I am called to wait.  To be still.  To be patient. 


Many have inquired when we will know if the transplant "worked".  Well, you see, that is another reason I have got to learn to quiet my mind, and quiet the worry and the "work" it creates, and just listen to God.

We will know, as soon as the end of the week, whether or not Jammie's cells are now taking over Steven's bone marrow.  It would even be possible, AND WONDERFUL, if Steven's marrow was populated by 100% of Jammie's cells.  The biopsy checking the progress of the engraphment will be Tuesday and we should know the results by Thursday or Friday. 

However, even if the cells are 100% Jammie's, this is not, in itself, a guaranteed cure.  Granted, it has to happen for a cure to even be possible, but the test will be if Jammie's cells recognize the cancer, and effectively get rid of it, when it returns.  Of course, we have no idea when this will be.  Or if it will ever be.  It is for this reason that I pray for a rash.  Doctors have made a correlation between the new cells fighting the body enough to cause a rash, and the new cells fighting the cancer.  We don't want the new cells to fight too much, because they could, literally, fight Steven's body to death.  We just want them to be irritated...and it to be visible in a rash.  However, it is worth noting that there have been cases where the recipient did NOT get a rash and the donor cells still did their job, fighting off the cancer.  As you all know, I have a tendency to want signsThis time is no different.

There is a part of me that believes that God could have already cured Steven and the transplant was purely a way to strengthen the bond between Jammie's family and our own.

Sadly, in the back of my mind, there is also the knowledge that there were people on the Stem Cell Transplantation Unit that were undergoing their second transplant after the first one did not succeed in defeating the cancer.  Some were cancer free for a year before the transplant "no longer worked". 

There are just really no guarantees.

Each day, week, month, or year that goes by that Steven is cancer free is a gift.  My mind needs, but will never have, the guarantee that the leukemia won't return.  Of course, none of us have the guarantee that we won't be diagnosed with cancer tomorrow.  In life, there are no guarantees.  Just the illusion of them.

Please pray for Steven, and a long term cure.  And, if you will, a rash.

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