Everything's equal in the Chemo Room….

I’ve often heard the saying, “Everything’s equal at the foot of the cross.” In the last 3 weeks, I’ve discovered this is true for a chemo room, too. Long story short, I’m severely anemic, and have been receiving iron infusions. I received (hopefully) my last treatment yesterday. Without boring you with the details, 12 is “normal low. I’m up to 9.5 (Yippeeee!) and believing for a 12 in the next few weeks. 15 is the norm.

At this point, I don’t even care about my hemoglobin counts. After spending 3 consecutive weeks at my onocolgist’s chemo room for 5+ hours at a time, I’m much more interested in telling you about the sweet people I observed or met when I was there.

Out of the 24 or so chairs, there were only a couple of us there for something other than the “C” word. Sobering, to say the least. These precious people were there fighting for their lives!! To my right was Gloria, who quickly became my favorite! She’s fighing breast cancer. Mike was across from me. He’s a fisherman. He has a trip planned to fish off the coast of Autrailia later this year. The cancer is in his brain. I’m praying he gets to make that trip. Mary, to my left was diagnosed with breast cancer the week before Father’s Day of this year. They’ve now found a spot in her lung. Steve, a 26 year old country boy, was celebrating his last day of chemo. Celebrating with him, was his mom who was passing out grapes, cheese & crackers. Her gift of hospitality brought a smile to the room. And then there was Mary, an oncology nurse, who had full knowledge of this journey since most of her adult life, she’s been the one administering the meds.

I didn’t have a chance to meet the folks in the adjoining room, but from where I sat I saw an older gentleman who looked to be the literary type; perhaps a college professor as he appeared to be grading papers. Across from him was a very young woman, who was obviously married because she gazed and held her wedding band as the chemo began to flow through her IV for the first time. Her husband sat on a stool at her feet for the duration. Next to her was a true Hepburn. A gorgeous lady with an IV port inserted just below her pearls. I watched her for a long time. Oh, the grace that she exhibited; and I’m fairly certain she had received it too. There was a peace about her that was apparent.

I loved hearing their stories. They inspired me with their strength. They stirred places in my heart that hadn’t been exposed since my own father passed away with cancer. Yet even so, I sat with a prayer on my lips thanking God for walking me down this path, if only for a few weeks. I felt guilty. And I told them so. They’re response? “Sweetheart, your anemia is just as important as what we’re going through.” Because my condition is not life-threatening, I felt like John in someways….when he got to see a glimpse of Heaven. Yes, I know that sounds absolutely crazy that I’d compare a chemo room to Heaven, but it’s true. I saw a glimpse of a life that most of us -Praise Jesus – dont’ get to see. An altered perspective; a healthier one, for sure! At the very least, I did see a picture of the true church. Love & Service.

In Beth Moore’s Daniel Bible Study, there was a particular week that I will always remember as long as I live. It was talking about the 3 scenarios that we can experience as believers when we face fiery trials.

When facing a trial or fire, we’ll either….

-Be delivered from the fire, and our faith will be built.

-Be delivered through the fire, and our faith will be refined.

-Be delivered by the fire into His arms, and our faith will be perfected.

Statistics and logic tell me that of the people I’ve met the last 3 weeks, some will be delivered from the fire. Some will be delivered through it. And others will be made perfect.

My prayer is that each one of them know Him. I am utterly convinced that God is much more interested in healing our hearts before our bodies. My prayer is that you know Him too. Because no matter what life deals us, in the end…. We win! :) The battle has already been won.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.

12 Responses to “Everything's equal in the Chemo Room….”

  1. AmandaM November 5, 2009 at 1:03 am #

    Carmen-thank you for always being so transparent and willing to share your heart and experiences with us! You portrayed the picture of that chemo room so beautifully for us-I felt like I could see it all in my mind…as well as my heart as you explained the stories of those around you. I love how Christ takes times like that to remind us we arent alone in this journey on Earth. So many people around us who are going through things we couldnt imagine and yet somehow God still shines through it all! :) By the way…I have a feeling you are a bit of an overachiever (as am I :D) so while we will pray for your hemi to reach that 12, I have a feeling you will pull through with a 13 or greater :)Your a true inspiration Carmen Brown! :)

  2. Island Rider November 5, 2009 at 2:20 am #

    Beautiful post. Thank you.

  3. Laurie November 5, 2009 at 11:12 pm #

    >>MY NAME IS ROSE: >>>The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. >>>>>>I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. >>>>>>She said, 'Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?' >>>>>>I laughed and enthusiastically responded, 'Of course you may!' and she gave me a giant squeeze. >>>>>>'Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?' I asked. >>>>>>She jokingly replied, 'I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…' >>>>>>'No seriously,' I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age. >>>>>>'I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!' she told me. >>>>>>After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. >>>>>>We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this 'time machine' as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. >>>>>>Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up. >>>>>>At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. >>>Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, 'I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know..' >>>>>>As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, ' We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. >>>>>>There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. >>>>>>We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it! >>>>>>There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. >>>>>>If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old.. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. >>>>>>Anybody! Can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets. >>>>>>The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.' >>>>>>She concluded her speech by courageously singing 'The Rose.' >>>>>>She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. >>>>>>One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. >>>>>>Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.

  4. Jeremy November 6, 2009 at 1:45 am #

    Hello Carmen. My name is Jeremy Mikel, I live in Sebring. This year has been a very hard year in my life. I have lost both my great grandmother and my grandmother to cancer. I was very close to my grandmother. She lived in St. Louis. We talked on the phone at least twice a week for hours at a time most of the time. She had battled two types of cancer in the past several years. I could not make it to St. Louis to be there at her final months on earth, but I really regret not being able to go, however, I know that the Lord was with me. At that moment that she left us, the Lord placed a song on my heart to sing and I know it was to comfort me, the song, "Angels in the Room" by The Ruppes. My grandmother has been gone for only a couple of months and I am struggling to deal with it. There are times I just set and think about her, I know she is okay and I know where she is at, but I still miss her dearly. It is a struggle to tell people I meet in public that I am wonderful and that I am great. (People that know me, always think it is funny how I tell them when asked, how are you? I always say I am wonderful or I am great.) It is hard to say that anymore without almost bursting into tears. I have prayed and prayed for God to help me through this, I know He will. I still trust Him, He has always been faithful to me. When I heard you talk about this on the radio, I just started crying, because I thought about my grandma and all the times she sat in a chemo room, with people watching her or the people she was watching God Bless you for the service you give to the Lord and for Joy that you all share each day.

  5. Susan November 6, 2009 at 11:18 pm #

    Carmen, this is especially poignant as I have learned of a coworker who was diagnosed with stage four cancer and admitted straight to the Hospice House in our area. I love the picture of everything being equal…and I love the lesson from Beth Moore. Your transparency is a blessing. :-) Susan

  6. Joanne and Brad November 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    Carmen, thank you thank you thank you for blessing me today, You are such an inspiring women and I love how God is using you to bless others. Thank you for sharing about your time spent in the chemo room.. it was moving to hear of such people. I will be praying for you, praying that your level will reach the norm and that you are feeling healthy and well. bless you.. and thank you.

  7. Niki November 10, 2009 at 8:20 pm #

    thank you and God bless you…you're words are exactly what i needed to read today

  8. Melinda November 11, 2009 at 3:36 pm #

    Carmen I can relate to your post. After my Hysterectomy I was placed on the Oncology floor to recover since they were short of beds on the gyn floor. I shared a room with a woman in the advance stage of cancer and she had received news it had spread to a new location. When she asked me if I had cancer, I felt so small as I answered no, I was recovering from a a hysterectomy. Knowing that in 6 short weeks my life would go back to normal, but her hospital stay mean't anything but normal. That was in June and I often think about her and her family. She was my age and the cross she had to bear would have destroyed many a spirit but not hers, she was so positive and so pleasant. what a testimony she was to me.

  9. Anonymous November 12, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    I came to this blog looking for the turkey brine recipe I heard you speaking about on air, and found this post. I am weeping. What an incredible truth. I have been touched to my very soul. As a born again believer I find that I sometimes need reminders of Gods unfailing grace and love. Thank you for reminding me.

  10. Bridget Powell November 23, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    Carmen~ As I read your story, I felt sadness and joy at the same time. Sadness for the disease stricken to the bodies of you and these patients, but also joy, knowing that the presence of God is in that room. As a future nurse (I graduate May 15, 2010!), I find that I will possibly experience many situations such as this; I just pray I can make a difference by giving the love and joy in my heart that God has given me. Thank you for sharing with us.

  11. Anonymous December 2, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

    Carmen I just got on to your blog for the first time but I feel like I know you already. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia this May, and have been going through alot emtionally dealing with "my new body",also I too am anemic and after eight months of no treatments am back again this week to the Chemo room, I can completely understand everything you say about it. I met a lady yesterday named Mary who was taking yet anothor dose of it. She was more concerned about how I holding up than how she was doing. The people in these rooms certainly are inspiring. God Bless you.

  12. April December 16, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    Bless you for sharing this. My grandfather passed away almost 5 years ago from lung cancer. The last eight months of his battle I never visited him. I was afraid of remembering him that way instead of the couragous, loving, peacful, strong man he was. Learning to look at tough siituations through the grace of God's eyes is an amazing blessing. And you have given me some peace today and I am forever thankful for that. God Bless you and your family.

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