Thank you again for your ongoing support and encouragement. We continue to be buoyed by your prayers, visits, messages, gifts, and kindness. They matter just as much to us now as they did in the initial days of crisis.
After 6 cycles of chemo some of you have been asking, “How many have you got to go?” Our answer is simply, “We have no idea!” If the Alimta/Avastin chemo continues to shrink the tumour, or at least prevent it from growing, and if I can tolerate the toxic effects, then it could be a while. We’ve been viewing data that shows some patients with my specific gene mutation doing very well on Alimta for many months. This means that life may continue to be shaped by the ups and downs of chemo cycles for some time yet. We are still hoping to get access to the targeted drug, Crizotinib, once the chemo starts to fail, and we’re praying that the government or drug company will release this to us (ideally subsidised or free of charge).
I’m pleased that the two latest (maintenance) cycles have been easier to tolerate. This has meant that I’ve been able to do a bit more. Over recent days days I’ve even been spending time on the exercise bike, while watching episodes of iFish, and wishing I was somewhere in Northern Australia landing barra and GTs! I’m starting to do some light weights, situps, and a bit on the rowing machine too, under strict instruction from my youngest! Nothing too intense, but they say it all helps.
Over the next few weeks I have the opportunity to speak at church again. I’ll be giving a couple of talks based on Genesis chapters 3 to 9, God willing. These chapters of the Bible deal with the mess we make of our lives when we push God aside. They address issues of suffering and death, and consider God’s purposes in these things. I’m anticipating that I’ll feel their impact more intensely and personally than I have previously!
Let me say, one of the hardest things about this struggle with cancer is not knowing what the future holds. Silly really, because we have never known and we will never know… we just think we do! The daily reminder of my own mortality intensifies the urgency and importance of good decisions, making the most of my opportunities, and using my time wisely. I can’t simply put things off until tomorrow, or next year, or some time in the indefinite future. If they matter, really matter, then I need to get onto them now. I need to make them a priority. How much time gets frittered away doing nothing of lasting value? These words in the Psalm keep coming back to me:
12 Teach us to number our days carefully
so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.
13 Lord—how long?
Turn and have compassion on Your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love
so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us rejoice for as many days as You have humbled us,
for as many years as we have seen adversity. (Psalm 90:12-15)
I used to think I had all the time in the world, enough time to get around to anything and everything I wanted to do. But then we grow older and life speeds up. Time starts to slip away. They say a mid-life crisis is being confronted with the reality that you can’t and won’t do everything you had planned in life. If so, then a terminal illness is this plugged into an amplifier!
My prayer is that God will teach me to number my days, to make the most of each day he gives me, and that I will thank him for these days whatever they may hold. It’s very easy to dwell on the negatives, to get miserable, to become filled with self-pity. But it doesn’t help. All it does is distract me from the true source of satisfaction and joy. This Psalm offers me some sound advice: talk to God, let him know how I’m feeling, ask him to be compassionate with me, call on him to satisfy me with his faithful love and enable me to find real joy… every day and whatever my circumstances.
Let me encourage you also to consider these words, to take them to heart, and to ask God to teach you to number your days.
With love, Dave (and Fiona)