Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Well and the Trenches

When I was a kid, I spent almost every summer day swimming at the Towamencin township pool. It was always a flurry of activity and noise with kids running around, jumping, and laughing... splashing, diving, and playing their summer days away. Going to the pool was the highlight of my summer.

There was one place amidst all the noise that was different, though. It was in the well. The well was the deepest part of the pool - twelve whole feet. It was where the diving boards were... and where we were not allowed to swim unless it was closed off for the ever illusive fifteen minutes of "well swim." During well swim, my friends and I would play one game and one game only - "Who can get down to the bottom and stay down at the bottom the longest?"

Looking back, it was a surreal kind of experience. There would be all sorts of noise and activity above the water, but as soon as I began swimming down to the bottom all the noise disappeared. All the activity stopped. Suddenly, I found myself in a world all alone... and the pressure of the ever deepening water around me bore down on me more and more. At the bottom of the well, I had a very real sense that there was a whole world of activity going on above me, but I was distinctly not a part of it. I was twelve feet under fighting with ears popping and head throbbing, unable to take a breath. I was struggling alone to win.

...That is very much like what one round of chemo feels like. My head is not right, my body is not right, and I am distinctly aware that there is a whole world moving along outside my bedroom door. I am just completely disconnected from it - twelve feet under waiting for that moment I pop back up to take in another breath.

That's what one treatment feels like. Six treatments in a row - that's another story entirely.

Going through a series of chemo treatments feels much like what I imagine being on a battle field to be. Helmet on, I jump in the first trench and bury my face in the dirt just waiting for the barrage of bullets to stop skimming over my head. As soon as the fire stops, I jump up and run with all my might, legs pounding and heart racing, praying that I'll make it to the next trench alive. Next thing I know, I'm diving back into another trench, dirt and sweat pouring down my face as the bullets begin to fly again. Then back up again. Duck and run, duck and run... it feels like a never-ending fight to get through to the end. Again, it's as if the whole world exists apart from me. All I can do, all I can focus on is getting through from one treatment to the next.

It's exhausting - both physically and emotionally.

It may sound like I'm being overly dramatic. I'm sure in some ways I am. Yet, the reality is that I'm standing in a place where I should be able to rejoice over the awesome strides I've made so far in fighting this disease.... However, all I can think of is the fact that I'm scheduled for six more treatments, which will take me all the way through November. I looked at my calendar today and cried because I simply don't want to do it anymore. I can't believe I have four more months of chemotherapy to go through! I just know I don't have the strength to make it. I know I don't...

So, I find myself in a place of sorrow for the moment, knowing that I'll make it through the same way I did in phase one - by the grace and strength that God gives me one day at a time - but still not wanting to go through all that is before me. I'm weary and I'm only at the beginning of phase two.

Your continued prayers are much appreciated...


  1. I remember the pool while visiting in the summers and I also remember swimming in the falls! What I really remember is how you were able to stay in that freezing water longer than anyone else! Lips blue, goose bumps, and some strange ability last longer than anyone. You are strong mentally, physically, and spiritually even now while you are fighting the battle of your life. We all know you can do it and you are making fantastic progress so far. Know that you are not alone and that we are here if you need us. Cuz

  2. Heather, keep strong. I know it is easier said then done but think back on how far you have come. If there is anything other then my prayers that I can do for you, know that you have it. It is hard and lonely road sometimes that we find ourselves on. As "corny" as it may sound, remember the footprints are being carried right now. soon your footprints will be in the sand with all those who love you...this time next year will find you living your life to the fullest..and for owe us a visit here in Steam have a meal at the Turkey Ranch waiting for you...all my love,Donna