Even in mid-life, I enjoy roller coasters. They are still my favorite ride at amusement parks. I can easily bypass any rides in the park that spin or leave you hanging upside down for an extended period of time but not the coasters. The faster they go, the higher they go, the bigger the drop, the better they are. Maybe I like them because they remind me of life…lots of ups and downs, twists and turns in different directions, uncertainty at times while we try to stay on track with our lives.
We made our annual trek to an amusement park at the end of the summer. I told my kids that this year I might just bring a book and sit as I didn’t think I would have the energy and stamina to do all the walking and standing and waiting having just finished my chemo sessions. Once there, however, I was just as excited as they were to get on the coasters.
It was not a busy day, lines were not long, and except for a few that really bang you around a lot I went on them all. In fact, some we rode several times. I had never ridden in the front seat before. Usually the line is too long to wait for the front but this particular day it wasn’t. I wanted to see what all the hype was about riding in the front seat. Well, let me tell you, it is definitely worth the extra wait. It was like a whole new ride. I had ridden in the second row and just moving up one more seat to the front gave it an entirely new feel. You know how once a coaster gets up to the top of the first big hill it takes a few seconds to wait for the tail end to catch up? Momentarily suspended over the crest of the hill and looking directly DOWN at the ground with nothing in front of you is awesome.
The real surprise came on the descent and for the duration of the ride as we quickly picked up speed. In the front seat there is NO resistance in front of you. The wind is so strong blowing against your body. I kept my eyes partially closed for fear that my contacts would be blown out. I tried to keep my mouth closed in case any bugs flew into it but it’s hard to scream with your mouth closed. Before the ride started I tied my chemo head scarf under my chin as well so it wouldn’t blow off! That made for a funny photo on the ride when they snap the picture. It was thrilling being in the front row!
I thought about how being in the front and taking the brunt of what’s coming and smooths the way for those that follow you. Even riding in just the second seat, the wind paled in comparison to how strong it was in the front seat. It made me think of how far cancer treatment has come with the years with research and clinical trials that patients have subjected themselves to. When I started treatment I was asked if I wanted to be part of a clinical trial that I was eligible for because I am HER-2+. I was handed pages and pages of information about the study to read. I had a 50/50 chance of being placed in either the group with the experimental drug or the placebo. It was double blind and therefore my doctor would not know either. The duration of the study would be for 10-13 years and would include additional tests, visits, and follow-up during that time. I was told that if I was receiving the experimental drug that I may or may not benefit from it. In addition, having to be infused with one more drug would mean an even longer time spent in the infusion center with each chemo session.
As much as I would like to do what I can for cancer research and in addition possibly help my own cancer battle, I chose not to participate in the clinical study. My time is too valuable and my schedule does not allow for any more involvement than is absolutely necessary. I could not commit to additional visits, tests, and check-ups over the next year, let alone the next 10-13 years. I already do not like the fact that I have had to have any kind of drugs infused in my body, especially one that is not approved. If I did commit to this I would want to know that I was getting the drug and not a placebo after all my time and effort. Others obviously feel differently but for me I could not make this commitment. We owe a lot of gratitude to those that DO make that commitment and participate in clinical studies. Without them we wouldn’t have the approved treatments that are being used today. My hats (and hair) off to you! These are the forerunners, the front seat riders! I applaud you! Thank you!
I thought of another forerunner, John the Baptist. He was Jesus’ cousin who prepared the way for Him. Luke 1:76 says, “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him.” Jesus is also referred to as a forerunner for us, as high priest entering the holy of holies (see Hebrews 6:19-20). Psalm 59:10 says, “God will march out in front of me. He will let me look down on those who tell lies about me.” (NIRV) “I will go before you And make the crooked places straight.” (Isaiah 45:2 NKJV) He has gone already and ascended into heaven ahead of us and is preparing a place for us to live eternally (John 14:2). How exciting that He made the commitment to make a difference in all of our lives, assuming all risks which for Him included death, so that we would be spared the side-effects of a fatal disease called sin! He has conquered “the resistance” for us! WOW! Now that’s a true front seat rider!