Fields Of Life. Ch.16.
Steady In The Storm:
Unexpectedly, our lives appeared to be stuck in a never-ending valley.
Things seemed to happen in an uninterrupted way.
Around this time, I suffered two episodes of shingles – with only a gap of a few months.
This was because of my weakened immune system.
Then, if this wasn’t enough, I began to develop a skin condition, which, on one occasion or another, was examined by numerous health professionals, with the diagnosis just as varied.
At one time, it was thought I had Eczema, or possibly Psoriasis. Then, at some other time, we believed it could be another episode of Staphylococcus Aureus, or maybe a Pseudomonas infection, or simply, an unknown Keratosis!
Anyway, our recollection remains clear of the uneasy feeling we felt, as something didn’t seem right.
The summer of 2011 came and went. The autumn brought tests and different medication prescribed by the doctors, but nothing changed, except whatever it was began to spread.
But then came the day when doctors would, at long last – identify the nature or cause of the phenomenon.
At the time, I was too gob-smacked to expect, believe, or suppose as I waited for the doctors initial diagnosis.
I simply tried to picture the junk in the doctor’s room as he explained the seriousness of my condition.
I motioned my head and hands to emphasize a feeling, not really responding to his words.
I felt very perplexed, desperately searching for the right questions to get answers from.
Suddenly, my mind was a blank!
I became distracted by the doctors mobile phone – with a ring-tone resembling the cry of my neighbours cat.
As the minutes passed, this became an entertainment that provoked pleased interest and distracted us from reality.
But then, snapping away from the momentary disruption, I was determined to move ahead in my weakness.
I sat composed for a time, hardly aware my wife dealt with the news in her own way, yet, I could sense her continually looking at me.
So were the doctors, and the nurse!
Soon afterward, the doctor suggested, “We’ll leave any questions you may have until after the results of the biopsy.”
So, this signalled a longer waiting process!
The greatest fear of our lives came to fruition when the results of the biopsy eventually came through.
Sure-enough, some weeks later, we discovered I had two types of skin Cancer – Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma.
We were told that my medication could increase my risk of developing certain types of cancer, especially skin cancer and lymphoma.
So, this meant I had a higher than average risk of developing skin cancer!
Of course, having fair skin that burns easily, light coloured eyes, natural ginger hair, and numerous freckles put me at a disadvantage.
And being a transplant recipient, and having an immune system which is inadequate, whereby resistance to infectious diseases is reduced, only complicated the issue!
It turns out, that Basal cell cancer is the most common but least dangerous skin cancer.
In truth, it’s seldom lethal, but can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow.
However, although Squamous cell cancer is less common, it’s more likely to spread and, if untreated, become fatal!
Usually, if it does spread, it is most often to the deeper layers of the skin.
At times though, it can spread to nearby lymph nodes and other organs, causing secondary cancers.
Anyhow, in my case, the Squamous tumour was growing through, and rapidly spreading within the Porokeratosis, which in turn, appeared to be imitating Eczema.
By this time, the affected area on my shin was about the size of the palm of my hand!
Basically, the cells were growing out of control!
As this progressed, the confirmed Pseudomonas infection didn’t help matters!
Perhaps we grew to understand the seriousness of my deterioration when the surgeon declared, “It’s not urgent – but we’ll operate tomorrow!”
Within a short time, I had undergone emergency surgery to remove the tumours.
This became an emotional journey!
An inner conflict of the heart, of the mind, of the spirit.
Heart wrenching stuff!
More so, once we were told that radiotherapy could be used after surgery as an additional treatment to destroy any small areas of remaining cancer cells that may not be visible during surgery.
Thankfully, both cancers were removed, and radiotherapy was not required.
But some reconstructive surgery was needed.
This meant I had to have a piece of skin taken from two donor areas and surgically grafted at the site of the affected cancer areas.
Consequently, the surgery necessitated an extended need for recovery.
Initially, the donor areas on my chest and thigh, along with the affected area on my nose healed quite well.
But unfortunately, the swelling from the reconstructive surgery on my right shin prolonged the time for my state of inaction.
We were, however, so grateful for the support of my assigned cancer nurse, as the advice and information she conveyed, which included possible assistance from Macmillan Cancer Support, was very advantageous.
Remarkably though, other people behaved in unusual ways.
Travelling this cancer journey became quite educational.
Some we thought were friends, suddenly, without warning disappeared! .
The unexpected turned out to be the people who were most supportive, who most understood what we were going through.
Amazingly, there were an endless mixed bag of interesting opinions. We heard one or two which were very inconsiderate.
They couldn’t really know and comprehend the nature or meaning of my illness – they couldn’t possibly see my condition from my perspective.
But, at the end of the day, their inexperience wasn’t my problem. Trying to explain to the “know-it-all” was extremely time-consuming!
Although they meant well, these people were exhausting!!
It was interesting to note who disappeared when I was diagnosed with skin cancer. Perhaps their distance demonstrated their own discomfort.
I had never encountered this kind of behaviour with any other illness.
It’s intriguing how the word “cancer” can change the way people behave.
Some refused to acknowledge me, as if I were out of sight. In fact, we found ourselves not invited to social events – as if we didn’t exist anymore.
Some even gave us the silent treatment!
Thankfully though, there were those who knew what to do, and they knew what we really needed.
They would drop in with a load of goodies – and some would even leave fresh produce on our door step.
Others would take us just as we were – creating time to find out where we were at.
Friends would know what made us laugh and why we cried – often listening when we needed to talk.
They would stand by us, believe in us.
They had no agenda of their own – simply treating me like the person I always was. Knowing, despite the cancer I was still me.
For Rachel, my cancer journey was her journey. In many ways her journey was harder – with feelings of annoyance at being unable to do everything she wanted to accomplish for me.
There is no doubt, through every step of this cancer journey – we became very enlightened.
And even as signs of the rare form of skin cancer appeared to return some time later, it didn’t end there:
For it turned out, I would be forever susceptible to re-occurring episodes of Squamous skin cancer.
Then, it wasn’t long before we found-out I had an abnormal loss of bony tissue resulting in fragile porous bones.
In addition, some time later, we discovered I had an abnormal softening of bones caused by deficiencies of calcium and vitamin D.
This was, to some degree, also caused by an over-active parathyroid gland.
In short, I was now suffering with a combination of Osteoporosis and Osteomalacia.
IN THE COMMOTION:
Yet, even with all the turbulence in life, we remain hopeful.
We’re marked by firm determination and resolution!
We learn this over and again – that the safest place to be in a storm is close to our Saviour.
He enables us to acclimatise to the sensation of keeping our balance!
With a close affectionate and protective acceptance, He shelters us in the middle of the storm.
He holds us safe.
Embraces us with tender love.
He keeps us warm in the cold.
He fixes our trauma.
Empowers us with inner strength.
In Him we trust.
Still, one thing is certain, each obstacle in life presents it’s own unhealthful conditions. But note, it isn’t a premeditated life-style choice!
Sure, the health challenges we face have a debilitating effect!
But this is our prayer. Our healing will become a reality!
A God-sized dream, perhaps!
Nonetheless, in Him, our expectations are focused.
Without doubt, grace has the upper-hand.
For this reason, we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good!
And yes, in these very conditions our spirits remain alive – with a daily fresh infusion of life!
For no matter how great the storm, our God is greater!
With renewed courage, somehow, it seems good for us to “come through” the storm.
With restored energy, we’re made to feel new again.
We embrace a calmness that’s completely clear and fine.
A distinctive quality in the atmosphere.
My, what a discovery this has been for us!
And so, seasoned with grace, the story continues.
The future’s bright with Him!
God, you did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart.
You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom.
Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life.
Also Please Feel Free To Read:
“Once Upon A Time.”::www.newday-prince.me.uk/2017/08/once-upon-a-time