From The Mountaintop To The Valley and Back Again
Dad had his second chemo treatment on Wednesday, May 3rd while in the hospital. He returned home from his 3rd stay in the hospital on Saturday, May 6th. Sunday morning he was weak and a little nauseated. But Monday morning he was feeling some better. The therapist came and worked with him. The week was full of doctor appointments. He went every day to receive the shots that would help keep his white blood cells up.
His 76th birthday was on May 9th. As he walked into the cancer center on that day, his age was already changed on his paperwork and the nurses wished him a happy birthday. Everyone there has been so good to him and the nurses have made over him every time he has gone.
Dad asked for my daughter Christy to bring her three kids to come see him that week. Visitors have been limited because of the risk of him catching something. But he felt stronger and thought it would be a good time to see them since he was over the second treatment and was a week away from the third. Hudson, the 5 year old, and Hadley, the 3 year old, had picked out gifts (toys) they wanted their Papa to have, including some bubbles. Christy got him a Superman t-shirt, telling him that he was her Superman.
The kids really enjoyed their visit as much as Dad enjoyed seeing them.
Going into the week of his 3rd treatment, he had a mixture of days when he felt pretty good and others when he was weak. He was eating well and was able to move around outside a little. The treatment was given at the Levine Cancer Center on Wednesday, May 17th. His appointment was at 8:30. They began with a bag of fluids and nausea medication before administering the chemo. The treatment was over at noon.
The day after chemo, he went to get a Neulasta shot. This shot would take the place of the shots he had been having to go take daily. But it also would cause more weakness and aches and pains.
Dad has always been a man that couldn’t stay inside for long. He would go outside and piddle around all the time. Being confined to the house, having to rely on others and feeling so bad gets him very discouraged.
One day when he was feeling especially weak and tired, his cousin Jerry Harrison came to visit. Jerry’s wife has been through cancer treatments and Jerry had an understanding of what Dad was going through. He talked with Dad, prayed with him and was just what Dad needed that day. A short time after Jerry’s visit, Preacher Toney Parsons came to visit. He also encouraged Dad. We firmly believe that little things like that which have been happening all along is God assuring Dad of His love and control over everything Dad is going through.
My sister-in-law had posted on her Facebook page several weeks back asking her friends to send him cards. He has received cards from all over. The posts I have written have been read by many people, who have responded that they are praying for him. All of the cards and prayers have meant a lot to him. We keep trying to encourage him by telling him that he is affecting a lot of people’s lives. There’s no answer to why he is having to endure this sickness, but hopefully it will help someone to draw closer to God.
He continued to feel weak the following days. My daughter Martha had a problem with the pump on her septic tank on Thursday night, May 18th. She called Dad Friday morning to see if he knew who she might could call to come look at it. Dad made several phone calls that morning, seeming to enjoy feeling needed.
One day he heard a commercial on TV and “Happy Hour” was mentioned. He asked mom what Happy Hour was. She told him it was a period of time when drinking was encouraged. He said he was having Happy Hour all the time because Mom was pushing him to drink a lot of fluids.
He began to feel better the weekend before his 4th treatment. He felt well enough to walk around outside. Being able to get out encouraged him. He was released from the physical therapist on May 29th. Mom took him to the drive-thru at Wendy’s to get a frosty to celebrate.
The fourth treatment was Wednesday, May 31st. Dad wore his superman shirt that Christy had given him. When he put the shirt on, my Mom told him he looked cute. He wondered that maybe he shouldn’t wear it to the cancer center since the nurses already made over him enough.
While he was sitting taking the treatment, in walks Preacher Joe Smith. Joe had been at the hospital visiting and said he felt God impress on him that he needed to go to the cancer center, even though he would not normally go there. He walked straight over to Dad and talked a few minutes. He prayed together with Mom and Dad and then left. One more instance of God putting people in Dad’s path to offer him encouragement had occurred.
He did really well with the treatment. He went to get the Neulasta shot the next day. On Friday he began to feel weak. He has felt a little weaker each day but is hoping the cycle will continue so that he can feel stronger again before the next treatment.
He was released from the home health nurse on June 7th. Since that was one of his weak days, instead of going to Wendy’s for a frosty, he and mom settled for a bowl of ice cream at home.
Dad has had his good days and bad days. On the good, it’s almost like a victory has been won. The days are enjoyed as much as possible. But the bad days are long. They are discouraging and hard. It’s like going from mountaintop to the valley and back again, and again. He’ll feel good for the week before and during a treatment and then bad for a week afterwards.
In our lives, we all have mountaintop moments. And we all have valleys to go through. Watching Dad going through the last couple months, it’s like seeing a condensed version of what our whole lives are like. The ups and downs.
I have always enjoyed the stories in the Old Testament of the Bible. One story in particular I have always liked is in Exodus 17.
“Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” Exodus 17:8-13 (NKJV)
There’s a couple of things that I find encouraging in this passage. Notice in verse 9. Moses tells Joshua to choose some men to fight. Now these men would have been strong men, men who could fight well. It’s in our nature, at least in mine, to question why God allows bad things to happen to good people. But why shouldn’t He. God sometimes chooses strong people that are capable of obeying and honoring God to fight the battles of life. Through the humbling of themselves, through showing that their strength is not in themselves but in God alone, then God can receive all the glory when the battle has been won.
In the following verses, Moses stands on the hill with the rod of God. When the rod is raised, they were winning. When the rod was lowered, they were being beaten back. As the men were fighting, they could look up to the hill and see Moses. When they saw the rod, the same rod that had been used in all of the miracles that God had performed, the men could be reminded that the presence and power of God was with them, even in the midst of the battle. When we are in the middle of our battle, even when we are in the valley, we can look back to the times we were on our mountaintops and know, that the same God that was blessing us so much in the good times, is still the all-powerful God that is with us in our valleys.
Now consider Aaron and Hur. They were there to help Moses, who was the intercessor between the people and God. When we know of people who are going through their valleys, we ought to intercede for them in prayer to our Father. We need to be there to give them assistance. So many people are praying for and encouraging my Dad. People have brought food and visited. Phone calls have been received. All of that is so appreciated and is something we all can do for anyone who is going through hard times.
One day as I was visiting my Dad, he asked Mom to hand him his Bible that was close by. He wanted to show me what he had come across as he had been reading. He told us to open it to 1 Peter 5. Verses 8 and 9 are familiar verses, speaking about the fact that the devil is seeking out those whom he can devour. But we are to resist him and stay strong. It says “knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” Then verse 10 is the verse that spoke to my Dad.
“But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” 1 Peter 5:10
You may be in the valley now. But keep looking up to the top of the hill. God will soon take us out of the valley and back to the mountaintop again.
Look up to the hill top, Dad.