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Am I On the Downhill?

Gail's Journey

I love to ski, although I have not done so for several years now. With this cancer I cannot ski anymore. I shutter now just to think about being in the cold as the chemotherapy has made me so cold sensitive. Don and I have some great memories of skiing together, especially when I was teaching him how to ski. That was back in the day before they had brakes on the skis, so when you wiped out and your ski popped off, it went flying down the hill without you, and you had to scream "ski!" to those ahead of you. It did not feel good to be on the downhill from a runaway ski! Not to mention it's almost impossible to find the lost ski as you had to walk downhill on the search. That first day Don skied, he ended up in this situation and finally found someone else's lost rental ski and used it instead! He was at least brave enough to be on a higher mountain than the bunny hill.

Some of our best ski memories were probably from a trip we made many years ago to Snow, Vermont. It was a beautiful day and Snow was a quaint village. It was beautiful and exciting! By then, Don and I had our own ski equipment that we bought used. We headed for the gondola, which took us about half way up the mountain for our first downhill ski of the day. It was so exciting and we were so ready to "hit the slopes!" We got off the gondola and put our skis on. We were ready!

Don went first and started down the hill. Suddenly, both of his skis popped off and he landed face-down in the snow! After all the travel, excitement and ride up the mountain, there laid Don, arms and legs spread wide, still holding his ski pools, bindings on each ski broken, lying face-down in the snow! I know it sounds mean, but I could not stop laughing! In fact, for years when I pictured this scene, I would start laughing. So, all of that anticipation ended with a gondola ride back down the mountain to the rental shop for skis.

We were finally ready again, and after skiing for awhile on the lower trails of the mountain, we were ready to go to the very top which took several ski lifts. Little did we know that a blizzard was developing over the top of the mountain, and when we got to the top, we were told that the lifts were being stopped and no one else was being brought to the top due to a blizzard coming through!

The wind and snow were blowing wildly, and we had no choice but to start down the mountain. Don took the lead. There were times that I could not see him, although I was close behind him. We would yell to each other, but often could not hear due to the wind. It was almost impossible to tell where the sides of the trails were. At one point, Don went off the trail and was chest deep in the snow! I helped pull him out, and we kept going. We were alone – we were not passing anyone and no one was passing us. The conditions calmed down somewhat when we were about half way down the mountain. As we stopped to catch our breath, we came upon an older gentleman who stopped to talk to us. He was obviously a very experienced skier. He told me that I was getting frostbite on my nose as it was turning white! I got my face covered better with my scarf and we kept going downhill. When we finally reached the bottom, we were exhausted!!

Dealing with this cancer is at times like skiing downhill without the fun and excitement. We are constantly being faced with new issues. We don’t really know what to expect and when. Although we know the Lord is with us always, there are times that the blizzard brings the unknown, feelings of being alone, and it makes it hard to see and hear where we are going. We fight to stay on the trail and it is exhausting and often fearful.

Last week, they could not give me chemotherapy due to low red blood cells and platelets. I received 2 units of blood instead. My bone marrow, where blood cells are produced is wearing out from the chemo, along with other worsening side effects. I had been dealing with some ankle swelling, but last week, it progressed to my abdomen and upper and lower legs. I am now taking a diuretic to try to get rid of some of the fluid, but why is it happening? Is it the chemo damage or the cancer? I will see the oncologist on Friday and am scheduled for treatment again. These new changes make me wonder, “Am I on the downhill” with this disease? It presents a blizzard of thoughts and fears and questions.

I have to keep going back to the only one who truly knows and has the power to change things. I still have to trust the Lord in all of this, knowing His plan is above my understanding. It hurts to see my family going through this blizzard also. Jesus said there would be troubles in this life, but the scripture also says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I know heaven will be amazing, but I will continue to pray for healing and more time to serve Him here. Thank you for praying also.