During the bouts of cancer diagnosis and treatments, Rachel writes e-mails to keep her friends and family updated on her thoughts and spiritual walk.

He hides a smiling face

November 3, 2004

So sorry to be so long in writing. Round 5 is starting to loom on the horizon already and many of you have been asking how it went last time. So…


Best one yet. Nausea wise. But it took a full 8 days before I was able to get out of bed for more than 5 minutes. Weak, dizzy and tired. Basically went from bed to couch to bed, while my mother-in-law did yeoman’s work around me taking care of me, Quinn and Kate. I’m ok with being sick for 2 or 3 days but then I think I should start to feel better and, when I don’t, I get frustrated. Anyway, I started to get my energy back around Wednesday and then caught a cold on Thursday so I’ve been struggling with that for the past week.


Being on the other side of halfway hasn’t offered me the feeling of relief that I thought it would. I thought that being able to say “only 2 more!” would feel good but, in actuality, it’s more like, “ugh. I still have 2 more.” The bright side is that I can see that I’ve made it through 4 of these puppies. Man, I don’t know if I would do this again. If Quinn and Kate were teenagers, I don’t think I would choose to do chemo again. Of course, I’m still in the middle of it so I’m hardly unbiased.


Had my appointments with the surgeon and the plastic surgeon last week. Nothing really new. Meeting with my surgeon was straightforward as I told him that I was pretty sure I wanted to go ahead with having a bilateral mastectomy. This will reduce my chance of recurrence of breast cancer to 1-2% (the chance of recurrence somewhere else in my body is still 15-20% over the next 10 years) and I am keen to give myself the best odds because Quinn and Kate are so little. I don’t want to be going through this again in 5 years. It was only slightly awkward as he was one of the doctors who was not recommending this initially but he understood my reasoning and was supportive.


As for the meeting with the plastic surgeon, good news and bad news. Good news is that the surgery is not that major and my recovery time will be as good or better than my surgery in July. I had thought I would be looking at 6-12 weeks of recovery. Bad news is that it is a several stage process that will involve 3 procedures and take the better part of 6 months. Argh. This thing is never ending.


I want it to be over. It’s a long long journey and I’m tired. Tired of feeling lousy, tired of needing help, tired of not being able to see the end. I suppose that’s why I’ve been so long to write because I am tired – physically and emotionally – and I don’t want anyone else to see. I know this is the toughest part right now. Slugging through treatment. Waiting. Watching the days tick by. Too slowly and, in some ways – when I think of when the next chemo is – too quickly. These days, the best way I can describe myself is to say I feel “dry.” A strange thing to say but it is the closest to how I feel.


But I know this is God’s plan for me. He is sovereign. He is good. And he loves me more than I know. I trust that. Living without knowing that would be so much worse than having to walk through this desert without hope.


I’m reading this book about saints who suffered and one man, William Cowper, wrote a hymn that says it well:


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.


His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.


I love the picture of God smiling. I can’t help but smile back.



One Comment

  1. […] Oh but when there is trust and joy and hope when one understands that even death is near, is faith. Most of you know Rachel Barkely, the mother of two who went to be with the Lord after her battle with cancer. I keep going to her […]

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