janisBy Sr. Janis Yaekel, ASC

I am Sister Janis Yaekel, ASC and I have pancreatic cancer. In fact, I have lived with cancer since 2012. I hope to share in my blog my journey and my reflections on the presence of God in my life. It is my hope that those who read my entries will find strength for their own journeys. 

On Monday, I visited my oncologist, had lab work and chemotherapy.  Dr. Tan seemed to be pleased that I looked so well.  He simply suggested that I keep to the same routine of chemo every two weeks.

Sometime in early September, I will have an MRI to check the status of the tumor.  The chemo treatment went well and now I await the onset of the great fatigue that comes about 48 hours after treatment.  I can pretty much map the five days after chemo.

Monday is chemo treatment and mostly I feel kind of shaky afterward.  I can still eat well but energy is low.  On Tuesday, I start to have a few issues with my digestion.  I don’t get nausea but when I eat it takes longer for my digestion to work so I watch my food intake.  Wednesday may be the worst day.  I am so fatigued that I hardly do more than get out of bed and sit in the recliner.  I call it fatigue because it is more than tiredness or weakness that I experience.  Thursday finds the fatigue mostly gone but again more digestive problems.  This is true of Friday as well and to a lesser degree on Saturday.  By Sunday, I can usually experience an uptick in energy and a lessening of side effects.

One of the things that indicate that I am past the worst of the chemo is the energy with which I walk.  Whereas I kind of just plod along for several days after the treatment, by Sunday I feel power in my step like a new burst of energy flowing through my system.

One thing that is both blessing and curse is the fact that I usually look healthy.  It is a blessing because it is a sign that the cancer is not getting the better of me.  It is a curse in that I have to keep telling myself that looks can be deceiving.  When people say to me, “Well you sure look good,” I can’t allow that statement to place an unrealistic expectation on what I can do.  Although I might look good, the reality is that on certain days I feel anything but good.  I find that if I am not careful, the “feel good” statements can lead to false “should,” like “I should be doing more,” or “I should get out and help in the garden,” or “I shouldn’t be sitting around all the time.”  Slowly I am learning to give myself permission to let go of those “shoulds.”

A constant in this journey is that I have never felt alone. Family, friends and my sisters have been of immense support for sure, but here I am speaking of the presence of God.  It is not that I necessarily feel God’s presence.  It is more that I know that Presence is with me, watching over me, holding me and giving me the courage to continue the journey.

As I went Monday to the hospital, I physically went by myself but I didn’t go alone.  As I sat in the chemo chair, I knew God was sitting with me and with every other person receiving treatment in that room.

I didn’t do anything to deserve this companionship. It is God’s free gift. Would I be as aware of God’s presence if I hadn’t gotten sick?  Perhaps, but it seems to me that my spiritual journey has become every bit as vital as my physical journey.

I am sure that the strength I experience to keep engaging in life can only come because I am blessed with a God who loves me.


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Read other entries from Sr. Janis on her journey with cancer.