Tonight concluded the “Consolidation” phase of Eva’s leukemia treatment when she swallowed her final dose of oral chemotherapy. Tomorrow I will take her down to the clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital for a routine draw of blood. If her blood counts look good (and we expect they will), she will begin the next phase of her treatment on Wednesday, January 18. That phase is called ”Interim Maintenance I.” I have described the nature of these therapies in a previous post.
People ask how we’ve been doing during these last few weeks. My answer is usually something like, “We’re doing alright, considering the circumstances.” That reply doesn’t really say much because there doesn’t seem much to say. The immediate crisis of a life-threatening diagnosis has been replaced with what seems banal by contrast—changing diapers, cutting pills, and mediating arguments. To borrow biblical language, things are neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm—spitting temperature.
Each phase of Eva’s treatment has begun with a doctor handing us a list of drugs and their most common side effects. We are thankful that Eva has been spared virtually everything on those lists, but we are learning about the side effects you can’t quite quantify on paper.
Perhaps it has been cabin fever from the frequent rain (which we need), or perhaps it has been the frustration from my stubborn cold (which we don’t need), but for whatever the reason there has been a certain pall over us lately. We’re tied pretty tightly to the house, disallowed for medical reasons from the places we once frequented. Things that were always “yes” have turned to “no.” Tactics that formerly turned the tide of a day breaking bad are either impossible or ineffective. The generous amount of patience that the crisis had generated in me has all but dissipated and I don’t like the way that feels. Bad days often tally into worse weeks. These days there is no single setback, no definitive burden that defines our story, just the background noise of daily cares. We’re in “maintenance,” which is about as boring a category there is. We’re stuck in the middle—not in danger, but not out of it either.
I trust this is what it’s like to climb out of the valley of the shadow of death. Things are warming up, but the chill remains. The crest is ahead, but there’s still a good piece left to travel. And walking ahead of us is a Shepherd. In his hands are the rod that guides and the staff that comforts. In his hands are the nail–scars that testify to the truth that he has walked this path before us and did so for our eternal benefit. We fix our eyes on him. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. We consider him who endured…so that we will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:2-3).
So, considering our circumstances, we’re doing alright. But considering our Savior, we couldn’t be better.