Nineteen

In a few days Violet starts the 19th cycle of chemo in her relapse protocol.

The duration of relapse treatment is now similar to frontline treatment (circa 500 days).

Although frontline treatment was more intense with side effects and inpatient admissions, relapse is just as (if not more) emotionally tiring. Using a water analogy, frontline was like trying to cross a waist deep running stream and relapse is like chinese water torture. With frontline we’d slowly wade our way through, step by step, after a while we could see the other side, the goal, the end of treatment. With relapse we don’t know where the end is, just when we think it’s under control, BAM, new growth, different treatment, a different goal.

Through it all, one thing has remained. Our faith. I know at times it’s been stronger than others. Through the world of constant change, through the emotional roller coasters, God has been there. A friend told me they “respect our gritty faith”, which got me thinking, what did that mean, what is he seeing that I don’t as we take this journey day by day, hour by hour, breath by breath….

Praise and Worship

For me, praise and workshop is key. To shift or lift the atmosphere (which can get toxic/negative/depressing) we put on a hymn. Over time the playlist has changed, the current top 3 are…

.. you may notice a theme, at the moment we feel a little beaten up. To be starting the 19th cycle of what was planned to be “up to 17 cycles”, recently discover additional growth and know treatment will once again change is frustrating. Praise and worship help shift those feelings. A few Sundays ago I was in Church, tears rolling down my face, hands raised, trying to sing Raise a Hallelujah. It’s tough. We will get through this. He is there for us. It’s a season, we’re still holding on, standing firm. Gritty faith.

Prayer

When you’re emotionally drained/broken. This quote is so true…

My mind is like my web browser. 19 tabs are open, 3 are frozen and I have no idea where the music is coming from.

.. as such, simple prayer, allows us to not ramble but also have depth behind it. We weave these simple prayers into our day.

The Bible

I’ve listed some verses before.
The app is pinned to my home screen.
The book is filled with encouragement and amazing struggles and triumphs.
Simple small routines make things easy. It’s one certainty I can control and take anywhere. I start the day with verse of the day alert and most nights I read a small devotional as part of my wind down bed routine.

Fellowship

Church is hard, the kids don’t enjoy it for varying reasons. We don’t have the capacity to sort them out and help them be more engaged. It is a priority, it’s an effort to get there, but we attend when we can. I love the praise and worship, and encouragement from friends. Outside the four walls we stay connected, we have trusted friends and family we lean on, unload and gain wisdom from.

In Closing…

I guess that’s how I interpret “gritty faith”. I’ve partially written about this before, but this has been from a slightly different angle.

For me faith isn’t about evangelising and preaching from the rooftop it’s not a place I go, it’s about weaving God into my every day, consistently, living in the moment, taking it a step at a time, standing on the rock during the constant dripping and change of treatment, somewhere to turn when things don’t seem that great.

Yep, we could have thrown it all away, our main prayer of Violet being healed hasn’t been answered. Last time I raised a hallelujah for her hair, it all fell out again. I’d love this journey to be over/finished/done, but it’s not. But we have been blessed…

  • She’s alive.
  • Her cancer is not aggressively growing.
  • She hasn’t had major side effects or disabilities.
  • Treatment options are available to her.
  • We have a great health system and live in a city where treatment is available.
  • We’re coping (just).
  • Our house is a blessing, a sanctuary.
  • I have an amazingly understanding workplace.
  • We have great support from friends and family.
  • We are loved.
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