I've been in a funk lately. I could attribute it to a few things: the endless deluge of laundry and other household drudgery, the start of summer (my least favorite of the seasons), the plywood covering the hole in our living room ceiling where part of the air conditioner leaked, the heat. But the funk came to a head a few days ago and it was time to get honest. I recently made my bi-annual visit to my oncologist (it's amazing how quickly those six months go by!). The appointment was routine--nothing out of the ordinary, nothing that raised any extra concerns. He applauded my efforts at fitness and weight loss, said they would call me to schedule CT scans, and sent me on my way. Don't get me wrong--Dr. M is a nice guy. He saved my life. But even that does not endear me to him or get me excited about seeing him in that awful, pastel office where sickness sits on every surface and desperation lingers in the air.
That office visit was followed a few days later by a party! One of my Bible Study besties is having a baby, and we gathered to celebrate. We had so much fun ooohing and aaahing over the gifts, eating cake, and laughing at Amilee's pregnancy craving--french toast. She will be a great mom. But when I got home that afternoon, I felt dejected and sadder than I've felt in a long time. Hubby called me out on it, asking for--and deserving--an explanation. What's wrong with me is that I miss what I can't have. Two years ago, six words turned our world upside down: "I have bad news. It's cancer." That moment is etched in my memory forever. The months that followed were difficult as I underwent treatment, but I was eventually deemed to be cancer-free and encouraged to resume life as normal.
And for the most part, I have learned to live with my new "normal." Normal now includes those doctor visits and trips to a hospital for scans on a regular basis. Normal means that I pay close attention to my body, fighting the urge to worry that a headache could be a brain tumor or abdominal pain is more than cramps. Normal for me is battling fear and having an oncologist's number programmed into my phone. And normal means letting go.
In order to eliminate existing cancer and as a preventative measure for future reoccurrences, we were given the "option" to have a full hysterectomy performed. It wasn't really much of a choice! Kids or cancer. Wow. It was a no-brainer to know that I wanted to be around for a long, long time to raise my boys up to be men. But before cancer tore its way into our lives, I had other plans in mind for raising my children. I wanted more of them!
Standing in my kitchen, sobbing in my husband's arms, I confessed how angry I am that the chance for more children was ripped away from me. I told him that I mourn the baby that will never be. I affirmed my complete love and total devotion to him and our three boys. I asked him why I can't have peace about this. I admitted that I recognize the sin of discontent and ungratefulness and I feel guilty for it. I dismissed his comfort and his invitation to hang out in his man-cave! I swam in self-pity, right there in my own kitchen.
Many people I know--close friends, not-so-close friends, co-workers, moms of the boys' friends--are expecting or have recently welcomed new babies. Again, don't misunderstand me. I am happy for those families and want to celebrate each little baby! How blessed am I that I got to bring three new lives into this world?!? Those three tiny blue bundles have brought tremendous love and joy into our home, only to expand as they grow. My heart longs to add on, and I just can't.
My life was threatened by a disease that grabbed hold of my body and my family without me even knowing it! The events that led to the discovery of the sickness came straight from God's hand, no doubt about it. The treatment and medical care I received were quality, and much less invasive than what so many other cancer patients endure. I know I should feel gratitude. Believe me...I KNOW. And I DO. But my life changed with six words. That change didn't end when the surgery was over. I will always have cancer in my life. And what I had to give up for cancer still hurts.