24 Apr

It sounds just like a Polaroid camera.

Every 90 seconds or so, it “snaps another picture.”

It’s actually the chemo pump that I’m wearing for 46 hours or so this week. Each “snapshot” is another little dose released.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

Oh snap.

Don’t remember the name of the chemical. It’s the third in a triad of medications being released into my system to hunt down any wandering cancer cells from the cancerous tumor removed last month along with about six inches of bowel. This third chemical evidently doesn’t get along well with the others if administered simultaneously. And so it gets its own party. She said it’s derived from the same substance as mustard gas. Comforting. They send me home with a box that is essentially a hazmat kit in case anything happens. Lovely.

Fortunately the box is in almost all cases called a “car box” – because that’s where it stays throughout the time of the pump’s use, because nothing untoward ever happens. Here’s to not being unique.

They said on the phone that the pump is the size of a TV remote. They must have been talking about a 50’s TV. It’s more like the ultimate remote. A new ball and chain.

But take none of this for complaining, whimpering or whining. An eight-year-old girl I know enduring a much harder chemo path would call me a total wuss (and I think already has) – not to mention my now almost 21-year-old daughter who went through a full year of much sterner stuff.

No, I kiss my pump and all that it represents. Through it and the chemical it infuses – and its other incompatible companions – something much deeper is being purged than potential cancer cells. I feel it, even though I can’t fully identify what it – they – is – are. Peter says that “he who has suffered in his body is done with sin, and as a result he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” I like Petersen’s rendering: “Think of sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.”

Purged of a relentless tyranny of self. That’s what this whole process is to me. Anemia. Cancer. Surgery. Chemo. My own current Via Dolorosa – but one ultimately marked more by joy and freedom than pain. Each IV, each line but a tether to grace. And twelve chemo rounds becoming for me twelve stations of my own cross, infusing life. Waking up before 5 AM this morning with a sudden foreboding, the words of Mark 16 flashed across my mind: “And if they drink any deadly thing it will do them no harm.”  Made me smile. And then I listened for it.

Snap. Snap. Snap.

Suddenly I saw Abba’s face. How good you are, Abba. How good. In what creative, unexpected and even undesired and toxic ways your goodness comes. Infusions of grace.

Through a pump.

Oh snap.


Posted by on April 24, 2012 in musings, Suffering


Tags: , ,

10 responses to “Pumped

  1. Sheila

    April 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Wow, Mike. I’ve been struggling to see His incredible grace in everything. It’s easy in the fabulous morning sky, in a chubby baby’s grin, in loving arms of my husband. But I know that it’s there in the ugly, painful, tragic also, thanks for helping me understand a bit more. I also want to say that your lesson Sunday was really stellar!

  2. wordhaver

    April 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Thank you Sheila! How can I not approve a comment that includes the word “stellar” when speaking of one of my sermons! It’s a no-brainer shoe-in. And so is finding grace in the morning sky (like today when I pulled in to work – stunning!) – it’s in those grittier, grimier spots where it is most difficult but also most crucial for us. God bless us both with the ongoing and deepening ability to see his mercies in the most unlikely of places and faces. 🙂

  3. Birgit

    April 24, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Love you, Mike!

  4. wordhaver

    April 25, 2012 at 12:23 am


  5. sally Preston

    April 25, 2012 at 3:38 am

    You are so inspiring Mike! Your sermon Sunday, your writings, the wonderful Grace you exudes to all of us! Very inspiring and a sweet smelling aroma to Abba! Praying for you and complete healing!

  6. wordhaver

    April 25, 2012 at 4:44 am

    Sally, it’s a mutual inspiration society we have going here. Love the grace upon you and Mike both, so glad I got to see your faces, hug your necks on Sunday. Love you both! 🙂

  7. Lynn Perkins

    April 26, 2012 at 5:22 am

    Thank you, Mike. This is so beautiful, such a re-focusing reminder of where are eyes should be. “Infusions of grace.” Thank you.

  8. wordhaver

    April 26, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks Lynn – I have to keep all this in front of me as I keep moving through this journey…it’s going to have its hard edges

  9. Bill McNary

    May 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    I picked up your blog by googling “word counts” (17 Oct). I was not prepared for “Pumped” that I decided to read on a whim. I was fine till you used the word “Abba” – then I knew that you knew Him at more than a superficial level and I was just blown away. Took 10 minutes to regain my ability to speak without emotion! Ohh, that we all could have the knowledge of Abba that empowered Paul to sit in the stocks in prison and sing hymns at midnight. You just sang a beautiful hymn. Thank you.

  10. wordhaver

    May 7, 2012 at 5:07 am

    You bless me, Bill! As I sit poised for the second round tomorrow, you gave me occasion to go back and read my own “hymn.” Good tonic for me again tonight. Thanks for taking me there again. Amazing the things we can stumble across on a whim – and the blessings that can flow from that. 🙂


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