It’s that time again. Chemotherapy day. As a caregiver for my husband who has been diagnosed with cancer, it’s a privilege to go with him to his chemotherapy treatments two days in a row every three weeks; to sit by his side, and walk this journey together.
But I have a confession to make.
I’m not as innocent or as magnanimous as I might sound. My closest friends have heard me lament, “I hate chemotherapy days.”
Don’t get me wrong…there is no place I would rather be than by his side, I just wish it was any place other than at the hospital, in the chemotherapy infusion rooms.
It’s not uncommon for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to begin to experience “anticipatory nausea” where they will start to experience nausea when they travel the same roads they would take to get to chemotherapy even when they aren’t going there, or they might experience nausea when they put on the same clothes they wear to chemotherapy but on non-chemotherapy days.
This is not our first battle with cancer. My husband battled a different type of cancer before. One thing that is different for me, however, is that this time I have begun to experience a touch of anticipatory nausea prior to chemotherapy days. Perhaps it’s because this time I know what to expect. Perhaps it’s because I anticipate how hard it will be on him, and I would rather go through anything myself than see him suffer.
Perhaps it’s because when we walk in, I’m confronted with my own questions, my own concerns, and my own fears.
I look into the vacant eyes of so many of the other patients, and wonder how many will survive? And more importantly, how many know Jesus as their Savior?
Many find this difficult to believe about me, in part because I communicate for a living, but I’m generally fairly quiet by nature. My preference is to let others do the majority of the talking. But by and large, I prefer quiet.
When I enter into the infusion suites, they seem almost a holy setting, where to me, each patient and their family should be allowed to go through the experience as they wish. Yet, while I prefer quiet, televisions are often blaring (I suspect to help some pass the time and distract them from the pain and discomfort). And many patients are looking for anyone they can find to talk to. Will I be asked to talk? To step outside my comfort zone when selfishly all I want is to curl up in a chair and watch the IV drip? To boldly share our story? To talk about our prognosis that may not be the same as theirs? To share of the hope we know prevails because of Him?
As my husband receives several bags of different chemotherapy drugs, I can’t help but ponder about the toxins that are given to kill the cancer that has invaded not only his body but our lives. We have been told that his current cancer is a “secondary cancer,” meaning that it has been caused by the chemotherapy he was given over a decade ago to treat his original cancer of a different type. So while the original chemotherapy saved his life, in conjunction with a miracle from God, it has been charged with causing his current health crisis. So I can’t help but wonder what the current treatment is doing and what we will face as a result. In those dark times when I start to entertain such negative thoughts, I have to remember that it is not God’s will that we would be sick, and I have to choose to stand on His truth that says it is His desire that we would be in health and prosper even as our soul prospers.
The medications that drip into his bloodstream often have a sedating effect. While he sleeps, I keep watch and pray. But I also have to do battle with the questions that barrage my mind. These questions are always most pronounced on chemotherapy days, in the infusion rooms that, to me, smell like death. “Will he survive?” “Will I be left a widow? And will my children be left fatherless, as I was when I was a child?” “And if he survives, what will his quality of life be?” “If he survives, will the cancer return?” “What long term effect will these poisons have on his body? On his mind?” “If this could happen to him, what’s to say it couldn’t happen to me or any of our other loved ones?”
It’s a constant battle to take each one of these thoughts, these questions, captive and turn it over to God, and refute it with His truth and His promises, believing that we already have the victory. It’s a matter of believing that these thoughts and questions are from the enemy who is a liar, refuting them with what God says, and believing with every ounce of my being that no weapon formed against us shall prosper, and that He will work ALL things, including cancer, together for our good!
While we sit for several hours in a cold, sterile infusion suite, I’m also brought face to face with my own mortality. None of us will live forever, and only God knows how many days will be recorded in each of our books, and what will eventually cause us to pass from this life to eternity. Will I have accomplished all God had for me to do for the kingdom? Will I have left a lasting legacy? Have I given my children the wisdom and the tools they need to function as successful, independent adults? Do my children know their true identity in Christ? Have I modeled for them how to handle moments of crisis, and to keep our feet firmly planted in truth with our eyes steadfast on the One who calms the storms? Should something happen to me, will they know how much they were loved, not just by me and their father, but by their Heavenly Father? Will I have encouraged others in their faith and pointed them to the hope that prevails because of Him? Even in the midst of all these questions, I must stand on the promise that He who began a good work in us WILL see it through to completion!
So as we walk hand in hand together into another chemotherapy day, I’m not proud to tell you how much I hate it, but my prayer is that by the end of this experience I will anticipate the good that God will bring from it—in my heart, in my relationship with Him, in my husband’s health, and in my interactions with others. As I trust in Him, He promises His peace in exchange.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you, not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
His offer of peace does not mean that we won’t do through difficult times or have problems. Rather, His promise of peace just means that our problems won’t have a hold on us.
Because of Him, #PeacePrevails!
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
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- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: https://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.