What is your Soundtrack? Health Update #7
When I was young, I remember putting a towel around my neck like a cape and running through the house like a superhero. No, I wasn’t acting like Superman, but rather a lesser known, and clumsy character from a TV show called, “The Greatest American Hero”. I did not care so much for the tv show or even the character, but I loved the soundtrack for the show, especially its theme song “Believe it or not, I’m walkin’ on air, I never thought I could feel so free. Flyin’ away on a wing and a prayer. Who could it be? Believe it or not it’s just me.” I loved the premise of the song and the show, that a regular person could become a superhero. That soundtrack stayed with me for several years, always providing me hope for becoming a superhero.
Well, I didn’t become a superhero, and the soundtracks of my life have changed as I have grown older and matured. I have not always picked the best soundtracks to rule me, and let’s be honest, some soundtracks are not helpful. For example, if you add the theme song to Jaws to any scene from your life “duuuuuuun dun duuuuuuun dun”, even the happy ones will be clouded with skepticism with you looking over your shoulder for impending doom. That is no way to live.
Our thoughts can be so easily influenced by a song, an event, a conversation, or even a diagnosis. The apostle Paul writes about this very thing in Philippians 4:6-8.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Anxiety and worry are soundtracks that we easily play in our mind and often on repeat, but Paul in this passage commands us not to be anxious, but to answer it with prayer, supplication, thanksgiving and peace. But he does not stop there, the Apostle Paul encourages us to open up our thought life and submit our thoughts to the scrutiny of the scriptures. We are to think about what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
I have never visited the lock system of England, but I hope to visit and travel these locks by boat sometime in the future. I have ridden my bike along the C&O canal here in Maryland and observed the many locks along the canal. As I submit my thoughts to the scrutiny of scripture, it requires me to pass my thoughts through what I would envision to be a lock system. The first lock is true. Is what I am dwelling and thinking on true? The true lock is followed by 7 other locks that help us analyze and examine our thoughts so that our thoughts can be honoring to the Lord.
I admit that since June 10th when I first got word of a tumor on my liver, that my thoughts have been all over the place. They have jumped from anxiety to peace, from despair to hope. This process of examining our thoughts is not an easy process, it is a daily journey of prayer, scripture reading, personal reflection, and seeking wisdom from others. It is not just important that we control our thoughts, it is pivotal for living a life of peace that honors and glorifies the Lord. Maybe it is time to change our soundtrack, and make sure that the song is grounded in what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
This process of examining our thoughts is not an easy process, it is a daily journey of prayer, scripture reading, personal reflection, and seeking wisdom from others.
An Update on my Health
It has been a while since I have given an update to my health, and that is because there has not been much news as of late. While my body is feeling the cumulative effects of 5 months of strong chemotherapy (tired all the time, numbness in extremities, and my hair becoming thin and not growing), it has tolerated the chemotherapy well and since my last update I have not missed any of my 6 chemo appointments due to sickness, or low lab numbers. On December 15th, I had another CT scan to see the progress of the chemotherapy. It was another good result, and the tumor continues to shrink as it has done previously. It is now 1.9 x 1.4 cm in size, and the lymph nodes around the liver are unchanged. Just for context, when I was first diagnosed, the tumor was 3.6 x 3.4 cm. After my first round (6 doses), my tumor shrunk to 2.3 x 2.1 cm, and now after another 6 doses is down to 1.9 x 1.4 cm. They lymph nodes shrunk during the first round from 1.6cm to 1.3cm but were unchanged during the 2nd round. This is all positive news and encouraging. The plan is to do another round of chemotherapy during January and February with the hope that my tumor and lymph nodes will be able to be removed surgically. At this point, my cancer is not able to be removed surgically and surgery remains my greatest hope for remission from cholangiocarcinoma. Once again, I am thankful for everyone for their prayers, texts, emails, and cards of encouragement. They are often well timed and lead me to change the dial of my thoughts and enjoy a new soundtrack.