There have been a few times in my life that I have felt such acute emotional pain and fear that I knew I would never be the same. Like watching a dear friend sit with her 3-year-old daughter at her side during her mother's funeral, and when another precious friend wept over the coffin of her father. When we dialed 911 after a 10-month-old Goliath had a seizure in his crib...when I endured a hysterectomy and had to dismiss the dream of having the 4th baby that I desperately wanted and would have loved so much...when my brother walked through a seemingly endless, horribly dark time, and I could do nothing but love him and feel helpless...and a few others that are too personal--and sometimes still too hurtful--to share here.
Last Monday was one of those times.
Yes, the PET scan was clear. And I am grateful. What I am still trying to absorb is Dr. M's revelation that there are almost certainly cancer cells--however minuscule--somewhere in my body, just waiting to multiply and form new tumors. Cells have to be a certain size to be detectable by radiology. Just because we can't see them doesn't mean they aren't there. In my case, they probably are.
One of the reasons I love and trust Dr. M is that he is forthcoming with vital information. His job is not a pleasant one; I honestly don't know how he does it day in and day out. My cancer is pretty much guaranteed to come back. We asked him about a timeline for that, and while it was obvious he didn't care for the question, he gave a straightforward answer. If I participate in maintenance chemotherapy, I can have maybe 2 years of "normal" living. If I don't, new tumors can grow in 9-10 months.
That news stopped me dead in my tracks. In 2 years, my Baby will be just six years old. He will be learning to ride a bike without training wheels. Little Middle will be building those mega Lego sets instead of the medium-size ones he loves now. Goliath will be reading encyclopedias for fun and asking crazy questions about stuff we've never heard of. In 2 years, they will still need their mom.
There is still a lot I want to do. I want to have a cabin in the mountains where my Hubby and I can go to be alone. I want to take my kids back to Disney. I want to learn how to decorate cakes. I want to read new books. I want to teach until kids make fun of me for being old. I want to do a Beth Moore Bible study and not skip around on the homework. I want to volunteer and make a difference to someone, somewhere. I want to go to New York with my friends and to Europe with my sister and my mom.
There is so much living left to do!
And that is why I feel so much sadness and fear. Because I know now, with greater clarity than ever before, that my life and my dreams are threatened by The Sickness. Not only will it come back once...it will keep coming back, over and over again. I will never again feel safe from the clutches of cancer. I will always wonder if it is there, secretly lurking and growing. I will always be aware that at this very moment, I might be dying.
Our Bible Study lesson (does anyone call it Sunday School anymore?) this morning was about hypocrisy...why non-believers are so turned off by the Christian community as a whole. We all agreed that it is because our lips and our life don't match up a lot of the time. In other words, we say one thing and do another. I don't want that to be me! I want to be genuine, so that's why I can't say that I'm not scared. My world was rocked last week. I am looking hard for God, but for the first time I feel mad at Him.
At the same time, though, I know that the medical timeline is not the same as the one God has for me. I believe there is still plenty of space for a miracle to happen. There doesn't have to be another recurrence. I am overwhelmed by what I know could happen, but my faith is firm. I will be purposeful in trying to follow the instruction from 2 Timothy 3:14: "But don't let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believe..." (The Message)
Lord, this hurts. I need you to be the strength that I just don't have right now. I believe that you are still good and your plan for me is perfect. Please help me to be real and honest for those who are watching, but most of all, for you. Dry my tears and turn my sorrow into joy. You are more than enough for me.