Thursday, December 9, 2010


It is an awful feeling to wake up in the morning and think, "Today is the day I will find out if I have cancer in my body."

That is how my day began. Before I even opened my eyes this morning, my heart was pounding, my stomach was sinking, and I was begging God for favor. Maybe I should back up a bit... On Tuesday, I went to the hospital for my every-three-months-regularly-scheduled scan. This was a CT scan, much more difficult and not as detailed as a PET scan. When I got to the hospital and checked in, the technician took me and my sweet mom to a back waiting room and delivered 1 1/2 hours worth of barium sulfate. I had to drink a certain amount every 10 minutes. Let's just say that the more I drank, the faster the 10 minute mark kept coming! Before I even had time to rejoice that the cocktail was gone, the tech returned and whisked me back to what is really a closet with a chair in it. She started an IV, and then we went to the imaging room.

I've lost count of the number of times I've laid on that table, trying to follow the instructions from the automated machine: "Breathe in. Hold your breath." Whrrrrr. "Release your breath." Whrrrrr. Up, down, in, out. If I open my eyes, when the table moves me out of the machine, I can see what I'm sure is supposed to be a peaceful scene on the ceiling--a flowing brook surrounded by towering trees. I much prefer to close my eyes, but then all I can see are the faces of my boys. Desperate terror was what I felt on Tuesday. I think I might have tried to jump off that table and run away, except that 1) I was trapped in the imaging tunnel, and 2) I had a needle in my arm that attached me to an IV pole. So instead, I did the only thing I knew to do: I recited Scripture. A scripture, to be exact: Isaiah 26:3. "You will keep me in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because I trust in you." (paraphrases mine) Over and over again.

The scan takes less than 10 minutes, but it seemed so much longer than that. Finally, it was done and I was free to go. I collected my things and my mother and practically ran for the parking lot. Once we were safely in the car, I lost it. I simply could not contain the anxiety and fear any longer.

I don't know why I feel so terrified every single time I have to go there. Besides the obvious, I mean. I think it's natural to feel scared. The threat is very real. But after all this time, why do I start to hyperventilate when the hospital comes in sight? Why do my hands shake when I enter the office? Why do I still cry? I'm not nearly as brave as I want to be, or as good as I should be. I feel like if I were, then 2 Timothy 1:7 would not resonate with me like it does: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."

Mom, Baby, and I passed the waiting hours of Wednesday doing a little Christmas shopping while the big boys were at school. After school, there were spelling words to practice, friends to play with, and iCarly to watch. I'm pretty sure I've seen every episode of iCarly that there is. We went to bed early, and that brings us back to this morning. "Today is the day I will find out if I have cancer in my body."

As it turns out, the scan was clear. The emotions I felt with that news were a mixed bag: Relief, fear, joy, sorrow. Of course it was good news! It was exactly what I, along with so many of you, have prayed for. In the back of my mind, though, I can still feel the fear creeping in. This clear scan is just a reprieve...a temporary sigh of relief. The Sickness will be back, unless God overrules medicine (and He absolutely could choose to do that!).

I explained it to a close friend this afternoon this way: I feel like Eeyore, who always moved around with a dark cloud hovering over his head. No matter where he went or what he did, that cloud stayed with him. That's me. The cloud of cancer follows me everywhere. Just because it's not raining right now doesn't mean it isn't there or that I am not acutely aware of it. It permeates everything I think and do. It threatens to open up and pour down on me at any time. And do you want to know the truth? I am scared of it.

I hate that I'm scared. I want to be brave. My boys make me want to be brave. Whether or not my time with them is cut short, I desperately want them to remember that I trusted my Lord with all that I had. I want them to know that I faced the Sickness, if not cheerfully, than certainly with a welcoming spirit for the challenge. I want them to know that they were worth fighting for, and that the strength that I had to fight came from above.

Tonight I cooked one of their favorite dinners and we celebrated the good news with root beer floats. Watching them enjoy their desserts, I breathed a prayer of thanks that there is "no evidence of recurrent or metastatic disease." I asked God to help me slow down and be present in the here and now, and most of all, to help me get a handle on that spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. If God is for me, who can be against me?


Anonymous said...

Wow - such perfect words - you put into words exactly how I feel - you are so good at doing that - reading your blog is such an encouragement to me. I am the cousin of Angela S. - I have had stage IV breast cancer with liver mets since April of 2006 - I am currently not being rained on - I am in the land of NED...but I too live every day with the dark cloud hovering about me...I am trying hard to be in the present also. I love your scripture references they really help me along too. So glad for the good news!
Kelly S.

Melynda said...

Sweet Allyson, I am so thankful for your good news! Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing how you really feel. I will begin praying specifically for the good Lord to remove that storm cloud above you-- Matthew 8:26 tells us He can. How interesting that you described your feelings of fear as a cloud. I've learned so much about praising God in the midst of a storm and about how so often, God chooses to perform miracles within us rather than around us-- growing us spiritually rather than removing the difficult circumstance, often referred to as a storm. Now I will be praying that He would calm the storm within! I will pray that He gives you that spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.

Anonymous said...

I've been weeping since I read your news. I am really happy that the news was good. I've been in denial about all of it for awhile. I do know that it will all work out because you are a faithful servant of God, a wonderful wife and mother, and you have a beautiful spirit. Keep your faith. I love you! Griz

Farrel said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. You are braver than you know and I'm sure your boys see it day in and day out. You are continuously in my thoughts and I am SO HAPPY that this last test was clear. I pray there are many more of those to come!

bhayes11 said...

Yea for the great news! Your words are such an encouragement to me - you say what I have thought many times and you say it so clearly! I don't think I will ever go for a mammogram again without some fear. The questions always linger and I sometimes beat myself up for not having enough faith and for being afraid. Funny how my blood pressure is always normal until I set foot in the oncologist's office!
Psalm 56:3 mine- "Whenever I am afraid I will trust in You"

Lew Campbell said...

Thank you God!

The Horton Family said...

I love you H.

Lisa Buffaloe said...

I'm praising God for the good news, and praying that good news continues. Praying for your peace and joy!

Brian said...

Keep praying those verses, I completely believe you will realize all those scriptural promises.