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When Cancer Cures

I noticed it one day, reflected there for me in the mirror.  A dot.  A speckle.  Something.  I don’t know, but I just stared.  Had that always been there?  Had it always looked like that?  I called myself crazy and dressed and moved on.  

But it kept staring at me. A month, two, (or five) later.  Small but somehow mighty.  Changing.  I started feeling needles of anxiety and wondered, “What if?”  What if that was something that should be checked out?  What if it was... 

No.

So, I asked my husband.  And I had hoped, kind of hinged my expectations on a, “Yeah, that’s always been there, why?” kind of response.  The laid back, easy-going, calm kind of thing I’ve come to know, love (and appreciate) about my husband.  He looked close, long enough to make the fear flare and said, “Yeah. You need to get that checked out.”  

My face crumpled and I turned away fast to unload the dishwasher.  The worst filling my head.

Because... what if?

What if it was... cancer?  What if those years of tanning in my 20’s was coming back to haunt me?  Every sunburn I had ever experienced (and there have been plenty) flooded  my mind with fear and remorse.  I tucked my kids into bed each night and wanted to bawl my eyes out.  What if there was a time limit that was coming for me?  Fast?

What if the worst?

I headed off to my doctor, sure he’d tell me it was fine and nothing to worry about.  Nope, no such luck.  “We’re going to take that right out.”  Numbed me up, dug around, two stitches later I’m sent home, “A nurse or the doctor will speak to you about your results at your stitch removal appointment.”  

Fantastic. 

I cried and tried to sing praise music all the way home.  I raised my hands and sang that He was my Rock Who wouldn’t move, but terrified tears still raced down my face.  I didn’t want to think the worst, but how does your mind not go there?  And everywhere I turned there was another story. Another young mother snatched away too soon, leaving babies to grow up without ever knowing her.  A husband gone, just like that.  Blog after blog of seizing the day and making the moments count and how it could all be gone in a flash.

What if my own flash was approaching?  

I smoothed peppermint oil down my spine each night to relieve tension and crawled into bed and cry-prayed myself to sleep.  The tears rolling and dumping into my pillow.  My prayers too messy, too real, too desperate for any words.  I kept thinking, “I have kids!  It can’t be cancer!” but then I know there are no such deals.  I’m not immune.  No one is.  I was scared that this might be a new chapter for me.  And someone else would have to be writing it, because I would never, ever write that.  I had no control and I was free-falling into what felt like the scariest black hole.

I voiced my deepest fear to a best friend as we sat in our shared office one day.  I hadn’t intended to tell anyone or to even ask for prayer.  Surely it was nothing.  There was no sense in blowing things out of proportion.  I finally turned to her and told her I had this little thing that was going to get checked out and would she pray?  I felt desperate and needed for someone to know. The tears I had been shoving down sprang to life and I said, “I’m so scared.  What if...” the words choked, came out softly, as though I was trying to deny they had ever even crossed my mind at all, “What if...I die?”  She slammed the door immediately with her foot, the noise rattling through what felt like the entire building and leaned close and grabbed my hands.  Tight. “No.  Uh uh.  That is not happening.”  

We bent head to head and she prayed strong over me.

I called the doctor after a week for my results. I couldn’t wait any longer to know.  I was told that it was benign, however it had some characteristics to be concerned about and the pathologist was recommending that a larger margin be removed due to the warning signals and my age.  I cried relief.  I poured thankful.

I could put my kids to bed without counting them as though I had a handful left.

Or.

Or I could keep counting them.  Protecting them.  Valuing them.

I could let this change me.

I got slammed immediately with a cold that exhausted me.  On the heels of an emotional week, my immunity and physical strength was low and I got beat down.  I missed church.  I missed choir.  I dragged myself into work but could barely form a sentence.  My throat ached on one side and I couldn’t sing.  My head pounded consistently.  I still had stitches that ached and pulled and that needed healing.

And yet... how could I complain? 

It wasn’t cancer.

I didn’t post about my cold on Facebook.  I didn’t Instagram my bloodshot eyes.  I didn’t ask for remedies or solutions or help.  I drank tea with honey and went on with my day.  I hugged and kissed and laughed.  Because... I might not have.  

And now, when I’m tempted to be afraid, I remember how I learned how steady my Rock is.  That even if the earth does give way, He remains.  I remember how scared I was to have everything taken away, and instead, everything remains.  I can take it all back greedily or I can hold it in my hands gingerly and carefully, because it’s all gift.  Someday it will go.  I will go.  But I have today.  I have this moment and this voice and this life.  

I can live it as ordinary... or I can live it as extraordinary.  

Bonus.  

Undeserved.


Oh,.. thank You.


"Even though I walk 
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for You are with me..."
~  P s a l m   2 3 : 4 a

Comments

  1. Laura, I'm so glad your spot was benign! I know it's just a matter of time before I get at least a basal cell carcinoma (I have almost all the risk factors) so I'm pretty paranoid about it and even sometimes get on a soapbox about sunscreen and tanning.

    Thanks for the reminder to cherish everything no matter how good or bad things are.

    ReplyDelete

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