Time flies when your having fun. That is a saying we’ve all heard and experienced. But when cancer is threatening loved ones, time can drag by one moment and turn into a blur the next. As I look back since we found out about my wife’s breast cancer and son’s adenocarcinoma it’s hard to believe it’s only been two months. Other times it seems forever, especially when I try to recall what is was like when neither of them had cancer.
Events in the last two months seem to blur together when I try to remember them. But one thing that I clearly recall (and experience daily) is the feeling of being loved and cared for by family and friends and people we don’t even know. They have prayed for us, fed us, supported us financially, shared their stories of battling cancer, taken our kids places, watched over our kids, cleaned our house, and the list goes on and on. We will never be able to repay the kindness, support, and love we’ve been shown. It’s encouraging to see Christ’s light and love living in so many people.
What about those who don’t have a support system of family and friends? Who can they turn to in the depths of depression over tragic news? How can they cope?
To try and nswer that as honestly as I can I have to think back on when I first found out about the severity of Alison’s cancer. Weeks before she noticed the swelling under her arms, she had planned to go see her mom and aunt in Alabama. A day or two after seeing our family doctor, she had several biopsies on the same day that she was supposed to leave with our sons for Alabama. Because of the soreness and it being an 8 hour drive, she didn’t leave until the next day, which was a Thursday.
I was at work on Friday and around 11:30 am my world was turned on its head. We’d expected that she was going to have some sort of infection and antibiotics would be the answer. Instead, Alison fought back tears as she told me she had invasive ductal carcinoma with grade 3 cells – the most abnormal and invasive kind. I was shocked. The first words that came to mind were, “It’s going to be OK. We can trust God.”
I made it through the rest of the day in pretty much normal fashion. I put the terrible news on the shelf. Call it disbelief or denial, either one applies.
However, when I got home that afternoon it was a different story. I was here at home and Alison wasn’t. Reality came crashing in. I was alone and only a few people knew and they were in shock as well. Not having her with me at that time made me see and feel a touch of what life would be like without her. We only had biopsy results and for all I knew the cancer might have spread throughout her body and all the fears your mind can generate were trying to run away with me.
So what did I do? I took the dog for a walk and had a heart to heart with God. There’s nothing wrong with opening your Bible, calling your pastor, your parents, your best friend, or a counselor. But for me, I just wanted God. Why just God? Because he’s the one who made me. Going straight to God was what Jesus did when he faced the terrifying reality of the cross. He asked for God to take that cup away but quickly followed with nevertheless let Your will be done. I prayed the same thing for my wife, my son, and my family. I cried too.
Alison and the boys weren’t going to be back until Sunday night and she was scheduled to see the surgeon the following Monday. So, I had Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday morning alone. Looking back it was similar to the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. The good thing about being alone was that I didn’t have to be strong for anyone and would be fine one minute and balling the next. The thing was I really wasn’t alone. I realized from my first walk and talk with God that the Helper and Comforter (Holy Spirit) who lives in me was praying for me as was and is Christ who stands at our Father’s right hand and intercedes for us constantly. That knowledge gave me the courage to research the internet and I found a site that is dedicated to women who were diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and who’ve survived for more than 10 years. MBCN 10 + year Survivors’ Stories
Thankfully all of Alison’s subsequent MRI’s and PET scans did not indicate any cancer outside of her left breast and axillary area. But the cancer has encased her brachial nerves and artery so severely that the surgeon couldn’t remove all of it. The remaining 20% will be killed by chemotherapy and radiation.
Alison and I both had similar moments when we at the very first learned about our 11 year olds cancer. At that time when you don’t know what it is or how bad it will be, but you can trust God to carry you through come what may. Thankfully Ben’s cancer is treatable with just one more surgery and then periodic monitoring to make sure it doesn’t return.
The third verse on the pillow case given to Alison is this:
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For more information about our battle with cancer, please go to Battling Cancer x2
For information about my Christian Thriller, please go to Malevolent Tide
Humility in the form of recognizing you cannot work your way to God is the only thing faith in Christ will cost you. Once you do that, he makes everything else possible.