Y’all, the last 24 hours have been rough! I always say that my life is pretty much an open book, but every so often there is a secret that I tuck away in a dark lonely place for fear that if it comes to light I won’t have the strength to bear it. When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer my Oncologist ordered a full body scan. I remember sitting in her office and asking the very scary question, “What if it has spread?” To which she bluntly answered, “Well then your cancer is stage 4 and it is incurable.” My heart sank.
A week later I sat in the Radiology waiting room, hands dripping with sweat, pleading with God for a clean scan. As the CT scan ran over my body I prayed that no cancer would be detected. And then I was sent home to wait for the results. Every time the phone rang my heart would sink a little deeper and the fear would become more oppressive. Finally a few days later my oncologist called. She told me that everything looked great except they had found a few nodules on my lungs. Tears filled my eyes as she continued in her even yet comforting tone. She explained that nodules could be caused by previous infection, allergies, exposure to mold, and CANCER. She also explained to me that there was really nothing to do but wait and do a future scan, after treatment, to see if the nodules had changed or grown. And so once again I was told to wait.
I held the information of these spots on my lungs very closely, only sharing with a few friends. Maybe if I didn’t say the words out loud it would give the possibilities less power. Maybe not sharing the information with others would somehow hamper the immense fear I was feeling. Maybe if I didn’t say the words out loud then they couldn’t be true! And so I spoke very little of my scans and the findings and the possibility of incurable cancer.
Yesterday I found myself in that very same Radiology waiting room. The days leading up had been filled with anxiety and denial. I was forced to wrestle once again with my mortality and my fear of leaving my children and my family and my friends. I went back and forth over what my battle might look like. I considered whether or not I would be willing to undergo chemo again. I looked back at pictures of me bald and sick, and reread blogs I had written about my painful journey. I thought about how I would live my life differently if the cancer was back. I thought about the words I would use to tell my sweet children.
When my name was called I reluctantly rose from my chair and followed the nurse back to the room where my destiny would be sealed. As I lay on the table, contrast IV in my arm, the scanner roaming my body, I prayed once again for clear scans. The nurse informed me that the results would be back the same day. I was both terrified and thrilled that the waiting was almost over.
Friends, I just finally got the call (a little later than expected) that the spots on my lungs have not changed and that there is no indication that they are cancer! I thanked the nurse on the other line for giving me the best Christmas present ever. I thanked God for sparing me and my family the heartache of another diagnosis. And I’m digging out this secret of mine that I have held in a lonely dark place and I’m sharing it with you because it is my testimony of a faithful God who heard my cries. And I’m a little disappointed that I let the fears and “what ifs” silence me and take over. I’m sad that I walked in the dark alone for so long.
A common thread among survivors of cancer is the fear of their cancer returning and I’ve been told it never goes away. With every bump, every bruise, every pain, we wonder if the cancer is back. Just recently a sweet friend of mine who had been cancer free for years found out that it had metastasized to her lungs. And just like a warrior, she is meeting her deepest fear head-on with strength and grace and and alot of gusto! (You are my HERO PAULA)
Today could have gone so differently. Today could have been the day I found out I had incurable cancer. Today could have been one of the worst days of my life. Today could have ended in heartbreak and despair. But instead, I live to see another day that I am cancer free. I’m thankful that I’m finally sharing this with you all. My burden seems a little lighter and the fear a little less oppressive. And I’m thankful that I don’t have to walk through this life alone, with or without cancer. And I’m thankful that whatever happens in the future, whatever scan, whatever phone call, whatever hard, I know my faith is bigger than my fear, and my God and my people are strong enough to carry me. And today is a great reminder that no matter how big the fear or how long the wait, we never have to walk alone and in the dark.
Thanks for sharing life with me. Cheers to an amazing 2018!