Early May 2015, my wife and I found out that our 11 year old boy had cancer. We thought he had swollen adenoids but the mass they found turned out to be adenocarcinoma. We pray surgery is all he needs to be cured.
Only days later, my wife (44 years young) noticed the lymph nodes under her arm were swollen. Within a week we found out it was invasive ductal carcinoma – a 3 cm tumor in her breast with a spot on her pectoral minor with axillary lymph nodes involved.
That’s a lot for anyone to take, on top of being a supervisor in an office of 22 people with a budget of $6M and the mission being to serve the public by preventing the extinction of federally endangered species while providing legally and scientifically defensible solutions that support sustainable development.
But I realize I’m not alone and many other spouses and parents deal with cancer, waiting on test results, and trying to function at work. All the while trying to adjust to a world that just got turned upside down. It’s unbelievable and you actually hope it’s a nightmare and you’ll wake up to the old life. If I could just go back to March 2015, and stay there I would.
But, this is reality and as a husband and father (and supervisor) I must lead. If I don’t lead, my loved ones will be on a rudderless ship lost in the worst storm of their life. And same goes for those in the work place. No matter what job you have, work is full of storms and people look to you for guidance. Yes, your position may grant you authority, but your behavior earns trust and respect.
How to cope. I have a PhD but it’s in science, not psychology. So, this is my firsthand experience and I’m not saying it’s worthy of being considered advice. I’m just hoping some can relate.
I learned in leadership courses that a major change can lead to shock, anger, resignation, and acceptance, but not necessarily in that order. Sometimes knowing what direction to go is hard because of uncertainty, but I think dealing with the emotions is most difficult and most important in making decisions in crises.
Emotions must be dealt with first because making sound decisions requires some objectivity and contemplation. If emotions prevent you from examining all scenarios simply because life and death outcomes are involved, then you are doing a disservice to the ones you hold most dear. What is my solution for this problem?
For me, it’s beginning at the ending. I have faith that the Bible is true and Jesus is who it says he is. My parody of a famous youtube rant by Head Coach Dennis Green concerning the Bears: “Jesus is who we thought he was, and he let us off the hook”
What that means is that time on this earth is nothing compared to eternity and I have the assurance that while we will all most certainly die at some point (because of Adam’s fall), we will be together forever with Christ in heaven because of the cross.
But what about this vapor of a life that my family and I currently cling to? It is so precious and so fragile. Here’s some verses that give me clarity and calm the seas of emotion.
1. Romans 8:28. “All things work together for the good for those who love God, to those called according to his purpose.” He will turn my test into a testimony and my mess into a message.
2. Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” He loves me more than I can love me and my family more than I can love them.
3. Proverbs 15:22. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” He provides wise Drs. to provide advice and cures.
4. Exodus 15:26.”I am the Lord, who heals you.” He is the great physician who heals mind, body, spirit, now and forever.
5. Isaiah 43:2-3. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” He is with me and my family and will carry us through, come what may.
6. James 5:16. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Prayers by others, by the Holy Spirit who groans in me, and by Christ who intercedes for me at God’s right hand are all heard by my Abba and they move him to send help in times of need.
7. Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God hears every prayer, holds every tear, extinguishes every fear, replaces worry with faith, and bears my burdens. He is my King, my leader, my shepherd, my example, and my living God who knows my son and wife’s name and has numbered the hairs on their heads.
Thanks for praying for us.