There are days when I feel like this whole thing really stinks. I get tired of telling people I'm just fine and trying to push through whatever it is that is really bothering me. Often I am very honest about how I am physically feeling (stomach issues, fatigue, body aches) but I don't like to admit that emotionally I am sometimes crumbling.
Last week was rough for me. A friend and neighbor who has been courageously battling inflammatory breast cancer is not doing well and they have called hospice to her home. My heart has been broken thinking about what this family has gone through already and what they are going through right now. But the fact is, God can heal her. It might not be the healing that we all would most likely mention in our prayers, but it is His healing and He will comfort them as well. Or He can heal her here on Earth. I can only continue to pray for BIG MIRACLES to happen to our precious friend.
At the same time, I heard the news that a young woman battling colon cancer passed away last week. I've been keeping up with the writings of this amazing Christian woman by the name of Sara Walker. She initially had a blog where she wrote about her family and then tragedy struck in December of 2010 when it was determined that her unborn daughter had died for unknown reasons just a few weeks before her due date. A month later, her world was rocked again by the news that she had stage IV colon cancer. I won't go into every little detail here but you can read her story in the following places:
YouTube video of her "Grateful for cancer" story
I won't lie. I was scared. Terrified. I do NOT have stage IV breast cancer. It is just a mere stage IIb. But I won't deny that I have read stories about people who initially had stage II breast cancer and it returned one day and ultimately killed them. This is a reality that I avoid considering most days. When I am faced with stories of mothers who have cancer and who do not survive I ask God the obvious questions...."Why her? What about her children? Don't they need their mother?" I can't begin to tell you how many times I have cried and begged God to heal children with cancer. It remains one of my biggest struggles when it comes to my belief in God and maintaining my faith..."Why do these children have to suffer with cancer, terminal illnesses, lack of food and water, abuse, etc?" I can't begin to understand why these things happen. I can only trust that God can use these situations to His glory.
In the case of Sara Walker, she used her struggles, her illness, her suffering to tell others about her incredible Father. She shared how she wasn't afraid. She showed joy, courage, faith, compassion, strength...the list could go on and on. Sara was the "real deal" from what I can gather. I listened to the audio of her memorial service held last week and I just couldn't help but think "Why not me?"
Why can't I be that woman who shows strength and courage in the face of adversity? Why can't I profess my love of God and my faith that He will see me through this battle to a victory, whether that is here or in Heaven. Why can't I be the woman who gave and gave and gave of herself even when she was probably feeling at her worst? Why can't I be the woman who shared her faith with the people she worked with, the patients she served, the people she met daily, the people she whom she worshiped with? Well, I can be...if I just try harder. But would it mean that I would die too? Well yes, it WILL happen. Eventually. No one knows when or how. But after reading her posts and listening to her "Grateful for Cancer" video, I WANT to be her in so many ways. I was feeling lost.
Tuesday was a mini-chemo day for me. This means just Herceptin and about an hour at the chemo treatment center. God was in it with me on Tuesday. He knew that I was a hot mess. I was having stomach issues all night and ended up with about 4 hours of sleep. This after just returning from a trip to Nashville with the kids and the hubby to visit his sister and her family. Lots of activity and not as much sleep as I probably needed immediately following chemo. My plan was to get in and out of mini-chemo and enjoy the sleep offered to me as a result of the Benedryl they give me to help with side effects. [This is the same Benedryl that typically doesn't do much good because it is coupled with a nice dose of steroids for the "big" chemo treatments.] I was exhausted going into the building and left the house without a drink and didn't have snack plans.
I was lucky to get one of my favorite chemo nurses. OK, they are all pretty great, but she and I had been texting the day before and she was encouraging me as I struggled with the news about my friend/neighbor. So, here she comes and I can tell God is in it. We talk some and I am feeling a little better already. I read my Jesus Calling devotion and scripture for the day (which related to being close to Him and that He is the light of the world and can help me out of the darkness). Then this nice woman in a chair across from me is about to leave and offers to grab a snack for me. She also proceeds to discuss the amazing programs and services offered by my favorite local support center, The Cancer Support Community - East Tennessee. It was really pleasant and I just needed the distraction.
My visit is short and sweet and I leave without any incident (access to my port happened on the first try, I got to drink a real Coke and I wasn't feeling any bad effects from the treatment). As I walked off the elevator, the mailman was coming through the doors to make a delivery to the office downstairs. He said a very friendly "Have a great day!" and I responded with something equally cheery. I was stuck outside for a minute trying to get my keys out of my bag. He reappeared then and approached me asking if he could talk to me. He gave me some sort of explanation that he hoped would make this seem "normal" to me by telling me that his mother had been through breast cancer and had a mastectomy and he just felt like he needed to pray for me. I agreed and he placed his hand on my shoulder and prayed a confident, uplifting, positive, genuine prayer about my journey and asking for God to bless me. I thanked him as best I could. I mean, how do you thank someone you've never met for belting out a powerful prayer on your behalf? It was just amazing.
I got into my car and began to cry. It wasn't uncontrollable and it wasn't bad. I was seriously wondering if I was about to be in a terrible accident, or I was going to get horrific news. But instead, I just looked up at the sky and thanked God for these moments where He made it ABUNDANTLY clear that He is in IT...ALL OF IT.