My own personal breakdown

I’m 50 years of age. I feel 70. My doctor tells me that my body is behaving like a 70 year old. It’s a little scary. Stage IV lung cancer and 15 months of non-stop chemo can do that to you.

The lightest of exercise elevates my heart rate. I get breathless quickly. It’s hard to suck in enough air. It takes nothing to raise a sweat. A crushing feeling in the chest. Shooting pains from the lungs.

I get pins and needles in my feet and hands. Aches in my ankles. Heaviness in the soles of my feet. The signs of peripheral neuropathy. So I only wear shoes when I have to – nothing new there! We reduce the chemo and add some antidepressants. Folic acid and daily cymbalta seems to do the trick.

Headaches are common. A band round the head. Pulsing pain in the temples. Light-headed, dizzy, a cloudy feeling. Couple of panadols, it is.

Blood pressure out of control. Topping the charts one day. Normal the next. Too high overall. Fears of heart failure, strokes, heart attacks. Not to mess around with. We’ll see if daily ramipil antihypertensives bring things down.

Fatigue is growing. I can’t seem to wake up. Some days I spend more time in bed than out of it.

Rashes and redness. Blemishes and acne. Sometimes I feel like a 70 year old going through puberty. The dexamethasone steroids help for a while (don’t tell ASADA), and then we can try some claratine antihistamines, or we can just wait for it to go away.

The weight coming on, then going off, then going on more. Metabolism out of control. Unable to eat. Unable not to eat. The cravings. Self control, diet, careful eating, not too much. Sometimes I think, who cares.

The blood sugar. Getting way too high. Diabetic levels. What next? No lollies, no soft drinks, no chocolate, no jams. That’s all the food groups. What’s left? Exercise more. Get the heart rate up. Burn more sugar. Use up the fuel. I’ll probably have to take a drug for this problem too!

Add an allergic reaction to the contrasts used in the CT scan. Because I came out in hives, they won’t allow me to take it any more, lest I have a more serious anaphylactic reaction.

And then there’s just the overall feeling of being heavily poisoned. Argh!

Where will it stop? When will it stop? I don’t know. But I have a choice.

I can dwell on my problems, be filled with self-pity. I can hide from others, ignore the good, forget God, complain and grumble. I can become a completely selfish pain in the bum. I’ve got a ticket that gives me permission to become a totally self-obsessed whinging prat. It’s called cancer. It lets you get away with all kind of stuff.


photoI can take responsibility. Get enough sleep and rest. Exercise even when I don’t feel like it. Show restraint with my diet. Be patient when the side effects are worst. Push on with what hurts knowing that it’s an absolute privilege to receive the medical care I have available.

I can rejoice. I can give thanks for my beautiful wife, my fantastic children, my supportive friends, my praying church. I can thank my doctors and nurses. I can praise God for life and hope. I can look outward and love. I can share and give. I can serve and support. I can wonder at the many doors God has opened, for every one that’s closed. I can stop wishing for change and change my wishes. Better still, I can fall on my knees and thank God for his amazing grace to me in the Lord Jesus Christ.

My life is not my own. It was given me by God and I was bought at a price. I’ve already died to myself so that I should live to God. And I can still do this, whatever bits of me don’t work! If God gives me days and months and years, then they are for him. To show perseverance in the face of suffering. To exercise faith in the midst of doubts. To offer kindness when I feel mistreated. To be a friend when I’m lonely. When I am weakest, God can shine through in strength.

I can learn from the Word of God…

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

23 thoughts on “My own personal breakdown”

  1. Thank you for this honest insight to your personal responses to living with cancer. You have inspired, encouraged and also challenged us with the choices we can make in our lives when faced with tough times. Praying for you and the family. Bxx

  2. Sounds just like a Psalm. The real struggle of treatment (and people say it is so much better these days), living “normally” and practising faith in God who doesn’t always seems so close. Thanks for sharing the pain as well as the faith. Do hope you find that fine balance of relief.

  3. All those sweets at the office! Perhaps some other staff have got to step up to the plate….if Steelo came back early we’d all be in healthier shape i think 🙂

    Giving thanks for you brother!

  4. We love you Dave and are sad you are having such a rough time. We continue to be grateful for you and encouraged by your perseverance with eyes fixed on Jesus.

  5. Yes, like reading a Psalm or Job. Wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry reading it. Thanks for your ongoing honesty and choosing to honour God mate – really helpful for perspective and prayer.

  6. Praying Macca. Thanks for writing.
    “…at present we do not see everything subject to him. But we see Jesus…” Heb 2:8-9

  7. Thought of you this morning and prayed for you. First half of the blog sounds horrible and I think a bit of job’s response that this all stinks is a fair response but the second is also necessary. I find your writing about your struggles very helpful and I know others do as well. I am amazed by your ability to write, review the many books you do as well as minister to others on the good days. Your honesty is refreshing and helps me pray more but more than that care more as a brother in Christ. So many people suffer with Cancer and many other life threatening illnesses and reading your blogs the good and bad is a gift to others to persevere, to pray and to on the bad days call them bad days and ask for prayer. You have a gift in the area of writing as well other others but this gift is a welcome one. Will continue to pray for you and the family and these days you describe are less than more.

  8. Hang in there mate! Cancer treatment really doesn’t appeal to me at all and neither does God, but you’re getting there, and that’s the best thing. Good luck.

  9. Thank you for the reminder that this life is not my own & to own my choices in life.
    I wish you well. God bless xx

  10. Dave, I am sad to hear that your body is breaking down more and that the physical suffering is increasing. I savor every word you write but this writing is so raw and honest. As someone who also has lung cancer, you inspire me to hold on to my faith. I pray that there is improvement and you can have a respite from the chemo. God Bless. Leslye Gayler-Garrison

  11. This sure puts my own troubles in perspective. I’m so thankful for your honesty and for the encouragement and inspriation you give me. I’m praying for you always. Bekah

  12. Hi Dave,
    I’m lifted up by your words which are like honey to the soul. I’m inspired by your devotion to the Lord when you’re in such physical and mental torment. I’m amazed at how you keep your eyes on the Father and echo his heart. Maybe this is the reason for your rise in blood pressure! Do you sense more of God’s presence at this time?
    P.S. You don’t look seventy.
    May God continue to Bless you and shine his face upon you.
    Love ,Desiree R.

  13. Amazing words, who are we that we might suggest what you should do or feel?
    Yet you seek God’s face. In the end, there is nothing wiser or better to do.
    Where is God when it hurts? The same place he was when his only Son was tortured in our place.
    Watching and hurting, but never far. Much closer than those born again realise. We are only ever but a heartbeat away from eternity with God, our glorious King.

    “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
    Rev 21v4

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