Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Unknown

The harvest sun blazes bright in the morning. Chrysanthemums flash brilliance with flaming oranges, reds and golds in response to the shorter days and longer nights. Autumn air feel lighter with no humidity and in late afternoon clouds roll in fast as the winds shift and just a hint of harsh winter days loom on the horizon. 

Each season brings with it change and some unknown.

The conversation was a little strained as the technician stared at the screen. The tests that had been done before this were routine. The questions repetitive.
"Do you have breast cancer in your family?"
"Have you noticed any changes in your health?"
"No and no."
Each test led to another. Weeks had stretched out since the first intrusion.

This beautiful young woman I knew when she was a child. One minute she was engaged in the conversation, telling me about her family. The next moment her tone went flat. The words came slower and then.... silence.

When she did speak she tried to have a professional tone but turned her face toward the wall. In short sentences she explained that the radiologist would review the scans and results would  be sent to my doctor.
I strained to make eye contact with her. When I did there were tears.  

As I walked out of that office I felt kind of stunned. The winds had shifted and the clouds were gathering dark. The kind that chills the bones. I needed milk and eggs and to press into life as if I could ignore what was going on. There was no denying the encounter had shook my soul. 

The months before this I had given much energy and time to a friend who was very sick with cancer. Her tiny frame and unsinkable spirit were in a battle. The harsh reality is that cancer had stolen her life as she knew it. She was being carried along but its cruel ways.

A few minutes later my cell phone rang. The voice was that of a nurse at my doctors office. She asked how long it would take for me to get to the office.

Before reaching the door the rain began falling heavy and I fought back tears. As I waited I tried to call my husband. No answer. The nurse startled me when she came in. She shuffled some papers and then in a rushed tone just blurted it all out.

"We're sorry ... but the radiologist is quite certain that you have breast cancer."  Tears fell from her brown eyes and she hugged me. Quickly she tried to regained her composure and stepped back as the doctor walked in. He began by stating facts and protocol and something about how they were rushing me to a surgeon the next day and that the biopsy would confirm what they already believed to be true.

Breast cancer. His words hung in my head and pierced my heart like a sword ripping the seams wide open. I searched his eyes and saw he had tears. He hugged me. Then he said it. 

"We have to get busy saving your life." 

They asked if I needed to have someone come and get me. I smiled and told them I would be fine.

I was lying.

The girl at the desk told me to have a nice day.

My mind was spinning. Inside my head the words were sharp and I thought, "Have a nice day ? ...Like, 'hey you have cancer' - -kind of  'have a nice day?' " -Poor girl. How could she know.

It was raining and thunder rolled. In the car I began to fall apart. Finally I was able to talk to Jim. We decided to meet at home.

My second call was to my friend who had stage four cancer. Trying to sound brave I told her, " aren't going to believe this..." The words all sounded weird and wrong. Here I had been praying boldly for her but for myself I wasn't believing it.  My mind replayed the three professionals that were in tears. My faith was shook to the core.

Those first hours were hard. Jim and I just sat and he held me and we shed tears. We tried to process how to tell our children. It undid me to think that my grandchildren might not even know who I was when they grew up. 


I went to the floor and to my face and stretched out before the Lord in honest tears and pain.

The peace came.
Peace that can't be explained.
Not like everything is going to be o.k. kind of peace.
But peace like  - -no matter what lies ahead He will be there and keep me in His perfect Peace.


Two years later I can honestly say that I am grateful that breast cancer has been part of my life.


Last week I returned to the journal I kept through that season when the cold winds howled and the unknown was terrifying. I found words from the book, "Come Away My Beloved" by Frances J. Roberts. On page 71, under the heading of "Put Away Your Idols." I have these words highlighted and dated as a promise I felt He gave me while I rode on the storm cloud of His perfect peace: 

"And your health shall
return to you and your vigor
and you will serve Me with fresh energy.
You will go forth in new power
and My joy will be your constant portion.
Though you labor
in the last hour before sunset
you will be rewarded in kind
like those that preceded you."

It is true friends. Too much of life I have cherished my idols and spent energy on things that have little eternal value. My talents, treasures and time were largely wasted on the here and the now. Little work was done in the Spirit.

Having breast cancer has changed many things, but most of all it has changed my heart. It's a huge reason I write. It's the reason I am unapologetic about my faith and it's the reason I want you to know that  
Jesus really is The Way and The Truth and The Life. 

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dsblanchard said...

You posted right before me today at Ann's. I thought I would come visit my 'neighbor.' My, I am so glad I did. What a fabulous list of thank you's. I had the same experience of a paradigm shift, but my hardship experience was different. It is why I write and why I am unapologetic about my faith, too. It's been good being here. I hope to see you again with the Multitudes on Monday. God bless you as you live for Him.


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