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The Cancer Journey : Learning How to Swim

Reposted from February 15, 2012 Eunice, my swimming instructor was a tough and determined teacher. She pushed us hard and demanded perfection from every stroke, kick, breath and dive. Fear of drowning was not an excuse for us first time swimmers. I would often stand by the poolside, head cradled tightly between my two arms, knees bent and wobbly and eyes staring down into the water that I thought would swallow me up. Eunice would count to three and if I didn't have the guts to dive myself she would simply push me into the cold water and I'd be so overwhelmed by fear that I'd forget how to breathe or blow my bubbles and water would fill my nose and lungs. I hated it and even hated her at times. It was not until I graduated and continued onto higher levels that I realized her demands for perfection were simply preparing us for bigger and harder strokes and dives.

I'm still not the best of swimmers and I still refuse to dive but Eunice taught me something even greater: to face my fears, and when thrown in the middle of them-fight hard and remember the simple truths. A month has passed since my last post and it's been a fairly demanding and challenging one to say the least. Ive battled a fever, two infections near my port area, two rounds of antibiotics one of which has left me completely exhausted and unable to eat, being hit by a car (though minor it shook me up), and now the possibility of having to take out my port prematurely due to my infection. This previous week was spent in a daze- going to treatments and work like a ticking time bomb, not knowing when the side effects from the antibiotics would hit me. There's been a more serious infection in my port area since last Monday and doc had given me seven days of antibiotics, 9 pills a day. The fatigue is nothing like I have experienced. It's fatigue that would prevent me from even lifting up a cup of water or moving my what seemed to be extremely heavy limbs to change positions in bed. My once ravenous appetite was limited to a few rice cakes and anything bland or starchy to keep me from throwing up. And unlike a good workout, my body felt (and still feels) like the days after a bad tumble on the slopes where aches and pains are in all the wrong places. I made it to day 5 when I gave in and asked my doctor if I could stop. The infection had mainly cleared (so we thought) and so on Monday we went ahead with our vitamin c treatments. The port was working fine until Tuesday night when I realized the area was starting to give me some pain again and there was some puss (gross, i know) coming out of the needle puncture site. Long story short, I was asked to make an urgent visit to dr chan's to pull out the needle yesterday morning and immediately went to consult the surgeon in the afternoon. He examined the area and decided it is necessary to take out the port. Since the tubes are connected to one of the main arteries that leads to my heart it can become quite dangerous if the infection spreads beyond the current site. Also, my puncture site that has bravely taken a needle for me week after week for a good six months is now looking a bit worn down as well as infected which means the skin may need to be removed during surgery in which it will remain an open wound until my body heals itself. Surgeon says we cannot wait and so I will be admitted to St Teresa hospital at 5pm Friday and will have my surgery Saturday at 7:30am. If all goes well I may be able to go home that evening.

I'm feeling run down. I haven't even recovered from my previous dose of antibiotics and have now been given another new set until surgery day. It's been physically demanding this past month and with the physical strain comes emotional weariness. Just as I can come up for a breath of air I'm pulled back underneath to fight another battle.

As a child I was terrified of diving into the harmless water below me even though Eunice was nearby and ready.

Today, though physically and emotionally weary, I believe God will give me just enough breath for each battle. I trust He knows how much I can bear and is ready to pull me out at any time. And Im coming to understand He has given me each struggle to make me a better and stronger swimmer as I swim through life's storms.


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