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Halftime Observations

Today is halftime in my regimen of chemotherapy treatments. I'm writing this from my recliner at Emory University's Winship Cancer Institute in Atlanta. This is my third of six scheduled infusions of potent chemo drugs and I can report to doing very well.

For about five or six days following a chemo infusion I am extremely fatigued, not wanting to do much more than sleep or rest. Frankly, my biggest struggle during those days is feeling so unproductive. The next two weeks are pretty good, thanks to a finely-tuned medication program, and I'm able to exercise daily, spend time in my office and keeping something of a normal schedule with only minimal side

affects.

Just as teams go to their locker rooms at halftime and consider lessons from the first half to make them more effective in the second half, I have observed and learned so much since my first treatment on January 5--and really since that early phone call December 14 informing me of my lymphoma diagnosis. I'll share a few of these today:

1. God knows. Think about it; a hospital is full of talented, well-educated people trying to ascertain what God already knows. In our house we've been saying "God knows" for years about things we don't yet fully understand. Trite as these two words may sound, they are amazingly reassuring in times of adversity.

This assurance that God knows is an amazing reliever of stress and anxiety. For example, I have a PET scan scheduled for March 29 to see if the first four rounds of chemo have removed all traces of cancer from my bloodstream. God knows right now what that scan will reveal so I'm really not worried about it.

2. Perspective. No one wants to hear "I'm sorry, it's cancer." But once you hear those words you will have your eyes opened wider to the number of people all around you battling cancer or other challenging circumstances. Every day I'm reminded how many people are dealing with challenges much more difficult than mine.

For example, in the past couple of weeks a dear friend lost his 18 year-old twin daughter and another longtime friend lost his wife. I know something of the pain of death in a family, having lost my brother at 22 and my father at 53; but I cannot begin to fathom losing a child or my dear April.

Then, about 10 friends of ours are in varying stages of cancer battles, all of them apparently more difficult than what I am facing. This has provided healthy perspective for me.

3. Every day is a precious gift from my Creator. I really have savored every day, which is easier to do when forced to slow down. I thank God for today, and ask for strength for today. Tomorrow I'll do the same. Next week I'll do it seven times. I'm more thankful for things I used to take for granted--things like a good night's sleep, the energy to exercise, a good appetite, friends who care and pray for me. I pray I don't lose this gratitude if the Lord heals me and I am able to resume my pre-cancer routine later this spring.

4. Hair isn't everything.