For the past two months my life has been consumed with doctor appointments. Everything is fine. No, everything is WONDERFUL because I do NOT have breast cancer. (I wanted to lead in with that right off the bat so you wouldn’t be worried.) During this time of driving an hour back and forth to the hospital (four separate mammograms, an ultrasound, a MRI, a MRI assisted biopsy, and ultimately a lumpectomy) and waiting on test results from all these procedures I’ve learned a lot about myself and my faith.
When the doctors first stated that they suspected that I had cancer, I knew that with out any shadow of a doubt that I would be okay (okay as in NOT die). Don’t ask me how I knew, I just knew. I guess that’s what faith is. I had Psalms 118:17 deep down inside of me screaming “I will not die but live and declare the glory of the Lord.”
I distinctly remember standing at the kitchen counter. The nurse called. She told me that I needed to come back for a “second look.” She explained that the hospital’s machines were more powerful. She told me there was a “suspicious spot.” I got off the phone. I posted the appointment on the refrigerator. I prayed – not a long prayer. It wasn’t even a faith-filled prayer but it was an honest prayer. I said, “Lord, I just don’t want to go through this.” After awhile, the verse Matthew 28:20 came to me, “I am always with you.” Thank you, Lord but I really wanted to hear John 19:30 “it is finished.” With that I knew that this would be something I would just have to walk through. Long or (hopefully) short, I was about to embark on a journey.
These were the things that went through my head in rapid-fire succession:
- I don’t have time for this. I have Christmas shopping. I have MOPS meetings. I looked at my calendar (yes, for real) and justified the “I just don’t have time for this” mentality. In my world if I don’t write it down – it does not exist. Period. I have chores. I have homeschooling. Then BAM. Second thought…
- I’m homeschooling. How in the heck am I going to homeschool, clean the house, cook supper AND have cancer? I mean, really, breast cancer means LOTS of doctor appointments. Lots of medical bills. Bills we don’t have the money for right now. My hospital is an hour away. Breast cancer means tests, surgery, chemotherapy. BAM again. Third thought…
- Chemotherapy. Wait, that makes you sick. I don’t have time to be sick (yes the time thing again…I know, NO ONE has time to be sick…). Chemo makes you sick. Chemo makes your…hair…fall out. BAM. Fourth thought…
- What if my hair falls out? I’ve worked so hard to grow it out from years of a super-short pixie. It finally looks half-way decent. I don’t want it to fall out. I took a deep breath and thought, well if it falls out, it falls out. I’ll wear cute scarfs. What if my husband thinks I’m ugly? My husband…BAM. Fifth thought…
- My husband. What is he going to do? Is he going to be okay? This is going to be so hard on him. This is going to be especially hard on him. It hasn’t been that long since we watched his mother wither and vanish before our eyes from cancer. Can we even speak that word? (Another note: in my world if we don’t speak it, it doesn’t exist.) Will he be able to bear hearing that dreaded, fearful word? I whispered it, “cancer.” Nothing happened.
Every test just resulted in yet another test. The doctor apologized, “cancer is usually so clear, black and white. Either it is or it isn’t but your case is different.” Well that’s of no comfort, I tell you. I just kept telling myself it would be okay- even if I had…swallow hard and whisper…cancer. I told myself it was just a word. I would not fear a word used by doctors to describe a particular set of physical symptoms. It was just a word. I repeated it in my mind and said it out loud, “it’s just a word.” I know a greater Word. His Word. THE WORD. His word says by His stripes I am healed (1Peter 2:24). His word says He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (Psalms 103:3). His Word says I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). His Word says it all works out for my good (Romans 8:28).
Test after test after test. My patience was growing thin. Christmas, then New Year’s, more tests. I was still recovering from a surgery in November and felt my body getting weary from the traveling, the waiting, and the wanting it to be over so we could get on with our regular life. Finally the doctor recommended that I have a lumpectomy to remove a pre-cancerous radial sclerosis. My husband and I were actually glad- now we had a plan. We had a solution. Hopefully, we thought, we would have an end to this.
I had surgery last Thursday and after a very long weekend the nurse called. She said the pathology report showed no signs of malignancy. Praise the Lord! She said they had removed the lump and surrounding tissue. I will have a post-op exam next week where I expect the doctor to say that this is indeed all over.
As I write this (ice pack on right breast, ibuprofen within reach) I have to admit that I just don’t know how people survive life without faith. It may sound corny, but it truly is “so sweet to trust in Jesus.” Life gets messy and sometimes we go though tough times. My husband and I both had such a reassurance that no matter what we went though, it would all be okay. We would adjust. We would overcome (Revelation 12:11). We would triumph (2 Corinthians 2:14). We knew because God says so.
I’ve also learned that I’m WAY too tied up in defining my life by the tasks that I do. I am not my schedule. I am not my chores. I am not my dozen or so lists. While all my little organization tricks are great, they are just tools that I use. I spent the past two months just being with my family. Some of the chores were left undone, some of the items didn’t get checked off the list, we ate a lot of take-out, and you know what? The world did not fall apart. I let people help me and you know what else? It didn’t mean I was less of a wife or mother. Now these things may be common sense to you. For me it has been a huge revelation.
When you define yourself by what you do,
you judge yourself by what doesn’t get done.
Now, I’m not going to use this as an excuse to get all sloppy and lazy…we can’t have total chaos afterall!
I am going to lighten up and
keep trusting my wonderful Lord.
‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er;
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
Oh, for grace to trust Him more!
Oh, how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.