I started wearing glasses when I was 8 years old. I remember being at a high school football game with my father. He was really into the game and I kept asking, “What’s the score?” He finally said, “It’s on the scoreboard," and pointed to the end of the field. I remember a startled look on his face when I said, “but I can’t see it!” That earned me a trip to the eye doctor. I hated wearing glasses, although I liked being able to see clearly and could appreciate my new focus on things in the distance.
When I was a senior in high school, I saved my money to buy contact lenses. They had the old hard plastic lenses for under $100 but the soft contacts were new and were over twice the price. I was excited to get my first pair of hard contacts. However, the eye doctor very rudely said, “It’s too painful to get used to the hard contacts. Go home and save your money for the soft ones.” Well, I insisted on the hard lenses that day. And believe you me, it didn’t matter how painful it was, I was going to show that pompous eye doctor that he didn’t know who he was dealing with! I had my focus on wearing contact lenses and getting rid of the old glasses I hated.
Over the years, I have continued to wear hard contact lenses, finally moving to gas-permeable hard lenses to give my eyes more oxygen. Although over the last year, I started to have some issues with dryness of my eyes, which has gotten worse with the effects of chemotherapy. So I keep lubricating eye drops close by. Using the drops allows me to keep my contacts in longer so I can continue to see clearly. However, sometimes at night, I awaken with some discomfort in my left eye (which is usually dryer than the right), and I can’t open it from the dryness.
Last night, this happened again. However, when I reached for my eye drops, half asleep, in the darkness, and just wanting relief, I unknowingly picked up a bottle of frankincense oil – same size, although differently shaped lid, IF I had been awake enough to notice!
Now someone gave me the frankincense oil to try on my hands and feet where I have tingling and numbness from the neuropathy caused by the chemotherapy. I also figure, if frankincense was good for Jesus, then I’ll give it a try....but not in the eye!! Yes, I dropped the frankincense oil in my eye and suddenly felt the burn and smelled the oil and knew exactly what I had done! Now Don, on the other hand, had no idea what I had done when he heard his wife yell and thrash about the bed trying to get the real eye drops to flush my eye, then went running to the bathroom to flush my eye with water! Don followed me but had no idea how to help me. It is funny now, but was not so at the time. My eye was a little swollen this morning, but my vision was clear. I was not only focused on what I could see, but how I would prevent the same mistake. I moved the oil to a new location!
We got some discouraging news on Friday. The cancer marker lab test, which is checked before each chemotherapy treatment, had risen by 17 points. It had been dropping which tells us the chemotherapy is suppressing the cancer growth. I had dropped 11 points 2 weeks prior, but my white blood cells, which are the first line of defense against infection, were knocked down to a critical level by the chemotherapy, so my dose was reduced to 50%. The oncologist reminds us that pancreatic cancer at some point becomes resistant to the chemotherapy, so the question now is what caused the 17-point increase? Resistance to treatment or the lowered dose? He only gave me 60% this week because of the side effects on my cells and the neuropathy. What should we focus on now?
It is very tempting to focus on the fear that comes with this disease. Such as the fear of dying too early, the fear of leaving my family and the pain and grief they will be left with, even though I know I will be with Jesus. We continue to ask for miracles. I don’t feel like God is done with me yet here! Focus is powerful! This is where focus and vision separate. I don’t have a clear vision of the future or all that God is doing, but I know I have to keep my focus on Him and trust that He is all-knowing, all-loving, and His vision is clear. I know He is using this cancer for His glory in ways I can not see, and in ways I can see, such as making a difference in hurting and lost communities in Southern Asia, through women who are being trained to transform their communities and to share the good news of Jesus, even through persecution. He is using this illness for “Gail’s Girls” (visit www.gailsgirls.org and join me in creating your legacy, along with me! Read my newest blog on that site by going to the bottom of the page and clicking on “More from Gail”, or click here: More From Gail). I know that God is not as interested in our comfort as He is in how many people will be with Him in heaven. His vision and his focus are far beyond ours.
But we will continue to pray to be used for His glory, along with giving us a testimony of healing that we can shout from the mountain tops!
“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:25-31)