May 20, 2019
The day started like any other day – except it wasn’t. It was the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis.
I remember getting the phone call from my doctor. It was a Sunday afternoon, and nobody’s doctor calls them on a Sunday afternoon unless it’s to tell them they are in trouble.
I was in big trouble. Big, rare, what-am-I-going-to-do cancer trouble.
I had to interrupt a Nat’s game to tell my husband. I remember feeling eerily calm as he sobbed while holding me. I figured I was in denial or some other form of psychological protection my brain was experiencing.
I thought I should feel differently. Scared. Panicked. Hysterical. But I didn’t experience any of those feelings. It felt as if I was walking through a door to a place I’d never been before. I was looking around at this new world, curious and already asking questions.
My main questions and concerns were about my husband and my children and grandchildren. We had already been through so much with my kidney transplant and our youngest daughter’s transplant. Our thoughts were already focusing on what we thought would be our next journey – our oldest daughter’s recent diagnosis of kidney disease and her expected transplant.
“It’s not my turn”, I mentioned to God.
I needed to be strong for everyone else. His peace reassured me that I was exactly where He was allowing me to go. I was on the right path even though it was unexpected and unknown.
I felt a little uneasy because I hadn’t packed a bag or prepared ahead of time for this. I didn’t have any frozen casseroles prepared and my ironing pile was overflowing. Our ministry at church was in full VBS mode and my to-do list was a mile long.
“I’m not ready”, I whispered to God.
He whispered back, “I am”.
The weeks before my cancer surgery went quickly and were filled with scans, tests, blood work, and doctor’s appointments.
As my surgery date came closer, I became increasingly uncomfortable. The cancer created a thick mucus that filled my abdominal cavity, pressing on my organs and making me look like I was 11 months pregnant. It became difficult to breath and eat and walk.
Finally I said, “I’m ready Lord”.
“Good”, He said, “It’s time”.
Looking back, I can see how He had orchestrated every detail of my care. My doctors, medical team, the hospital, friends, family, ministry – everything lined up to take me through the door I was finally able to walk through.
The 16 hour surgery went by really fast for me since I was asleep. For my family and friends, a whole prayer network of people, and my medical team – it was a loooong day.
I awoke the next morning and spoke (mumbled) briefly to my doctor and family. My first concern (after wanting a sip of water – which was denied) was to see if I had a colostomy bag attached. Surprisingly, I did not.
My second concern, absurdly, was if I still had a belly button. Amazingly, I did!
I remember the long days and nights in the hospital. Thankfully I had plenty of time to pray and I got to share my love of Jesus with the hospital chaplain who came to my ICU room each day for encouragement.
“I’m alive Lord,” I praised.
“I know”, He answered.
“Ready for your next assignment?”
Lord, you have given me abundant life. You rescued me from cancer when it attacked me. My scars are a testimony to what you have done in my life and I am grateful for them. We have walked together this past year and you have never left my side. You have blessed me with more than I ever imagined. I love you, Lord. Amen