7/4 Dave’s Testimony: Chemo Rage Fireworks B4 Celebrating 4th of July!

What a difference a day makes. Several days ago we planned a family movie night, when out of left field Dave became angry with our adult sons, and me; leaving us all stunned.

It started out when he said he had to tell me something before we started the movie. My stomach seized up. Are we going to the ER?

I can’t breathe. Dave reads my face. “No, no, nothing like that… I just want to talk about a schedule for the lawn.” Whew! It’s supposed to be a good evening. I’m thinking of the tiny, pink clouds I saw earlier in the sky, above the lawn… a little present, from God, to me.

“Ok, but they have a plan.” I say. And suddenly, one son is in the room, and Dave is being very loud, telling him he has to keep up with the grass, or it will get too tall and be harder to mow.

I start to tell Dave that Jake already planned to cut it the next day. The other son is now in the room. They’re trying to tell him they have a plan. And I’m trying to tell Dave they’ve both worked really hard this week, each at their own full-time jobs, and with helping me.

But he’s not listening. He’s extremely agitated, and now he’s talking about other things that need to be done in the house; the floors, the vacuuming, and dishes. He starts yelling that nothing’s getting done.

We’re staring at him. My mouth is open in shock. I had just somehow summoned the energy that very day for a complete Costco run with Jake and Abby to help me. We’ve loaded, and unloaded, twice. I’ve managed to make dinner, do all the dishes, and clean the counters. Nick has worked all day, arriving home at 7:30 p.m. What’s going on here?

Dave begins to rant about how he used to do his full time job and do all of these things in the house. It’s true. I was sick over the last three years. Dave did so much more than any husband I know of, to take care of everything we needed. But then he goes on to say that he did everything. Everything! And that part is not true.

I’m thinking about how we are all different people with our own full time jobs and responsibilities; and how we’ve been working so hard to care for him, and how we’re so exhausted. I’m thinking of how we can’t get everything done, and how it would be so much worse without the amazing meal train we’ve been given.

And now I feel the heat creeping into my face. I’m feeling greatly unappreciated and majorly disrespected… and he’s not stopping. He says the four of us should be able to do what he did before. What in the world? Sparks of anger threaten to explode.

But there’s no reasoning with him. Our sons are trying to reassure him, and I’m trying to tell him we’re doing the best we can, yet we aren’t perfectionists about the house like he is. I remind him that we have health issues too, and we can’t run ourselves into the ground, or we won’t be able to get up again.

He says he doesn’t want to hear excuses. My mind is now blown. I say some words I shouldn’t, and jump up and shout, “I’m leaving the room!” My guys follow, and suddenly we’re all sitting in the couches downstairs, bewildered, discussing whether we should just watch something else, and let Dad sleep. Apparently, he needs it!

Dave comes down to apologize, but mainly for the temper outburst, not the sticks and stones that hurt my bones. He mentions that he knows we all do stuff. I’m not happy. But we all go back upstairs and watch a family TV show so we can be together. My jaw is set tight, and the muscles in my neck are screaming from the stress. After a while we all end up laughing at the comedy. It was a shorter night than we planned, but we ended our night together, and that’s what matters. We’ll talk later.

That night there’s a short discussion via text with my boys and myself. I tell them I think it’s about lack of control. One of my guys texts back,” I was thinking the same thing.” I’ve been researching “chemo rage.” It’s a real thing. With all the hormonal changes, medicines, and emotional, physical, and mental stress; it sometimes skews with reasoning. The frustration and suffering and weight of it all, just becomes just too much for the cancer patients… and fireworks go off. I get it.

The more I read, the more it makes sense. This isn’t the first time, and it’s not like my husband to ever be demanding or angry about things I can’t get done. He doesn’t say things like this to me. On some caretaker forums, I find out we did the right thing by leaving the room. Though next time if it happens, I’ll leave right away. It gives both cancer patients, and caretakers, a chance to cool down. Our family isn’t afraid, but it’s not okay when this happens, and though rare; it’s very upsetting. I do urge any cancer patient or caretaker, who is feeling threatened or fearful of chemo rage; to contact your cancer center for support. Cancercare.org has experts who will answer your questions for free.

The next day Dave is happy and normal. He says he doesn’t know what happened; that he simply wanted to discuss the schedule for mowing and doing the floors. There’s forgiveness and understanding; and the week continues. But I’m struggling. I have anxiety; it’s hard to breathe. I have insomnia, and migraines, and I start to feel afraid: threatened by a spirit of doom. I’m discouraged. I can’t get depressed. I have to take care of him!

I feel like I can’t read my Bible, and I hardly know how to pray. But God keeps bringing one particular verse to my mind: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3: 22-23 NIV).

And then the verse happens… just as it already did the next day, when the chemo rage was gone. God keeps bringing new mercies every following morning, all the way up through today’s 4th of July.

Two days after the “chemo rage,” we enjoy a fun Fourth of July dinner celebration with Monica and Dan, Chuck and Suzette, and all of our girls. They come in, bring more food, and take over the kitchen and the grill. This allows Dave to just relax, and I don’t feel overwhelmed. It’s comfortable, fun, and happy. My guys come home from work and enjoy the meal. The rain stops long enough for the girls to do sparklers. We love these friends! My anxiety leaves. Thank you God, for faithful friends who don’t pity us, but rather, pray for us.

The next day is recovery day. I’m tired, but enjoy making jewelry and catching up on TV shows. Dave enjoys some movies down in the basement. It’s a pretty good day. But that night, the gloom is back and I can’t sleep. I could text my lifeline girls and other best friends. But I don’t. I think about how I don’t want to be a burden. I was told Psalms could help, but I don’t want to read any. I pray away any lurking evil spirits in Jesus’ name, and I pray for Dave. I curl up and pray that sleep will overtake me, because I hate how I feel. There it is, again, a spark of hope: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3: 22-23 NIV).

Then, it’s Sunday, God’s day. It’s a new morning, and Dave is getting around well. We go for a short walk, he’s doing puzzles, and then he enjoys some popcorn and a movie. Out of the blue, I get a text from a friend, who blesses us with a generous gift through Venmo, so we can order meals from a couple favorite restaurants. Our friends, Heather and Doug, arrive with a Mexican Fiesta for dinner. It is definitely a fiesta! There is so much of our favorite kind of food! Best of all, they stay to visit. A heartfelt talk, with my sister in Christ, begins to lift my spirits; higher and higher.

Our town has a fireworks display on July 3rd, so we discuss our plans for the evening. We find out our friends are going to our mutual friends’ house to watch the fireworks display later. So, I do something unusual, and I invite myself! I know Joe and Wendy will say yes to us siting under the half moon with their family. Usually we leave two hours ahead of time, to get a parking place in the field across the fairgrounds. It’s an amazing view, but I know Dave can’t just sit around for two hours. Our whole family arrives, and we set up camp in a field behind the house. We light some sparklers, and watch the beautiful show. The love and hugs from friends are beautiful too.

Our family comes home laughing, and in a good mood. We’ve gone to McDonald’s for treats, and Dave says, “The first one inside, is the one who loves Finn the best!” We’ve all missed out little red dog who couldn’t come to the fireworks, so we try to race inside. Dave is already ahead, and I have to turn back with my car keys, because I’ve left all the siblings in the back, and they’re literally locked inside, and can’t get out. The dog is racing around like crazy, because he smells a skunk outside, and French fries in the house. Usually, Dave is asleep by 10 p.m. after having taken his medicine, but he’s awake. So we pile into our bedroom to watch two episodes of a favorite comedy. It’s been a good day.

My anxiety is gone. The doom is gone. What I have to remember, is that anxiety, fear, guilt, and anger; are all evil spirits meant to take us down. We can pray them away in the name of Jesus. Talking about Jesus, sharing bible verses, talking about how God is working in our lives; are all ways to keep these spirits away. And if all you have is one verse in your head, that may be the silver lining… God’s message to you for the week. God had been planning the whole time, to change chemo rage fireworks, into family, friends, and fun fireworks. I just needed to trust him.

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3: 22-23 NIV)

Happy Fourth of July! We’re looking forward to two full weeks without chemo! May freedom ring in your heart because of Strength through Jesus!

My hubby, Dave, battling cancer with Christ! We appreciate your prayers!

Related Posts:

Our journey with Christ and Cancer, with all links in order at the bottom of this post: 4/10 Dave’s Testimony: My Husband has Deadly Cancer… Palm Sunday Miracles

Fourth of July


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In Christ, Angela Royse Pelleman

2 thoughts on “7/4 Dave’s Testimony: Chemo Rage Fireworks B4 Celebrating 4th of July!

  1. Edith says:

    Thank you, Angela, for not glossing over your struggles in caring for Dave. I feel.you’re helping many more people by keeping it real- revealing your challenges and the resources God brings to meet them- than by just quoting Bible verses and preaching at the reader.
    I’m so happy you had a great 4th of July celebration. God bless you and yours splendidly in Jesus’ name.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Angela Royse Pelleman says:

      Dear Edith, thank you! This means so much coming from you; a strong Christian writer I admire, sister in Christ, and friend! We hoped by being raw and honest, and sharing all of our struggles, that we could reach more people. We hope struggling people will see that real Christians are real people. And real Christian’s shouldn’t pretend to be perfect, because we’re not. Thank you for being an encourager and dear friend, and for your support in sharing our stories and asking for prayer. I love you, Aunty Edith! So💙🙏🏼💕


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