Praise God - I have reached the end of this treatment cycle! I have just returned home from my final day of radiotherapy (#33) and last Wednesday received my 7th and final doses of chemotherapy. I am exhausted and in many ways at the lowest point I have reached physically, but remain filled with hope and feel great relief, since the next few weeks should involve gradual recovery. Since radiotherapy will continue to affect my body for the next couple of months, it will be many weeks before the effectiveness of this treatment cycle can be determined. I will have a full CT scan in a month (which will reveal how much of the growth remains) and then another full PET scan in about two months (which tests whether it is still active). We are praying that the growth will have entirely disappeared . However, it is more likely that a scarred area will still show up on the CT scan. If so, we're praying that it is no longer active.Side-effects
As for side-effects, the radiotherapy has really overtaken the chemotherapy in the last couple of weeks. Not only am I even weaker and more tired than ever, but recently it has become increasingly difficult to swallow due to radiation burns to my oesophagus. For the last week or so I have been limited to fluids (water, juices, thin soups, melted ice-cream (thank God for small mercies!), special dietary supplement drinks, yoghurt and the like) and even then require painkillers and an oral anaesthetic (which I gargle before meals) to get things down. It's not much fun. But this level of discomfort is only likely to continue for another week or two. I am now glad that I put on so much weight in December!
God is good
Each morning, Jessica and I wake up and remind each other "This is the day that the LORD has made", to which the other replies "Let us rejoice and be glad in it!" (Psalm 118.24). Despite not being able to do all that I once could (and might, God willing, one day be able to do again), life is good, very good. We are so blessed by the generosity and support of family, friends and strangers, by having a beautiful new church family at Leichhardt where God is clearly at work, by living in a country with a (largely) functioning medical system, and by having a sure hope that as we have died with Jesus to our old lives, so we will also rise like him when God makes all things new.
Jessica continues to enjoy her social research position at St Leonards and the occasional continued support she can offer to the EU Graduates Fund (where she was working for the last few years). Our time at All Souls, Leichhardt has started well. We have met many people, welcomed a number of newcomers even more recent than us and started a weekly small group for 20-30s. I have also preached twice (sermons can be downloaded here), led some services, done a little reading, begun planning a few outreach events in coming weeks and attempted to keep the church and many of you in my prayers.
Speaking of prayer, here are some suggestions for those who pray.
• For reaching the end of this treatment cycle and for its apparent effectiveness.Pray:
• For Jessica's thoughtful concern and love as primary carer. Also for the many others who give their time, energy, friendship, food and prayers in support.
• Because our Father is faithful, because Jesus' blood never fails, because the Spirit blows with the promise of a new age.
• That the treatments will have been effective, that God will have used it to bring complete healing, that the test results will show only scarring and no active cancer anywhere in my body.
• For patience with eating difficulties and that I'll be able to maintain adequate nutrition despite limited options and little desire to eat. Also for patience and peace as we wait the next few weeks for results.
• For energy when I need it and the ability to rest at other times. For Jessica to also have good rest during this time of stress.
• For the new small group at All Souls, that it will be a place of life and peace, where we speak the truth in love to one another, welcome newcomers and care for those who are struggling.