Oh my, where to begin? This past week has definitely been something.
Let’s rewind back to a week ago, last Monday.
On Monday, I’m calling my doctors off and on all day long, waiting to hear from them and the results of scans, scans pushed up a month earlier than routine calls for because of a sore shoulder and numb fingers. 4 calls later, I learn that I have cancer for the fourth time in my life.
There is nothing good about this number, even back in the beginning of all this.
Back in 2004, I was first diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma as a 13 year old middle schooler. I had no idea that kids could get cancer. I had no idea that cancer could come back again and again and again.
Cancer has pretty much entered itself into every life stage of mine: middle school, high school, college student, young adult.
But this time, this stage, feels different.
I should “know the routine” by now, and trust me, I do:
1. find cancer
4. chemotherapy for a year
5. scans, and
6. more scans.
I don’t want to do chemo again, at least not IV. Is that wrong? Am I being selfish? Am I trying to be self-sufficient by wanting to do all the things I’m currently doing now? Working and learning. Helping to lead a Bible study. Living with quirky and funny roommates. Going on dates. Driving weekly to see the parents and watch whatever current TV show they are obssessed with. Continuing to forget to do laundry in a timely manner. Collecting as much tea as I possibly can to drink and share with others. Laughing over inside jokes. Going to coffee shops to just be. Walking into Bath and Body Works to just smell the seasons. Browsing all the books I hope to one day read at the library. You know, living.
Because, you see, on chemotherapy, you just “float” in time. There seems to be no moving forward. You simply hover in the present as if the IV drips and flows into you some sort of sick science fiction twist of a drug, where, no, we have yet to figure out how to time travel but yes, we have found a way to stop time and that is called chemo.
I guess I’m used to pausing my life every 5 year now–diagnosis at 13, relapse at 18, relapse at 23–but math, you somehow messed up this time. I’m 25. Do the math. Where are those 5 years you used to once give me? This is way too close in time. I can’t stop once again just because you are asking me to.
God, I’m like an adult now. (yikes!) I know that other adults do this thing called cancer and treatment, but how do they do this? How do they go through chemo, work, enjoy their children? There is a cancer fictionalized, idealized story line, and I think I’m starting to see where the facts and fiction rub against one another and cause even deeper friction. Cancer is not some Nicholas Sparks and John Greene drama filled plot line. This is my life.
And yet, even though their tales trouble me, thankfully I don’t look to those books and story lines for the guidelines of my own life.
4 “Show me, Lord, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is.
5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
even those who seem secure.
6 “Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
without knowing whose it will finally be.
7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
Oh, how much more can You/do You show me how my days are fleeting, and how just as quickly I forget! I want to be “those who seem secure,” and have so much more life, life stages to look forward to. And yet, this picture, though at first seems bleak, but when I search my heart, this psalm is the present picture perspective that is solid, firm, real. Because as I go and compare my life to those young adults around me and want to cling and desire to their circumstances, I press more closely into the shop window and see their circumstances are really just as fleeting as mine.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
This balance is really hard though: how do I hold onto these psalm truths and not just think silently, but what if this is the number of my days? How do you balance your own mortality with hope for healing? Because I constantly am feeling the grip of cancer’s hand on my left shoulder and the pain this new tumor is causing, and it feels like it’s directing my entire life and thoughts to go this way or that with each tighter grip its cells wrap around my bones.
I don’t know quite the answers for this yet, and they are not meant to sound morbid or depressing but just honest.
So, cancer is back again, along with all of its questions and thoughts and doubts and uncertainties it brings. Now in my C7/7th cervical vertebra, at the base of my neck, it really does feel like its there guiding my head, eyes and thoughts in all sorts of directions. Close your eyes, and imagine someone grasping their hand on your left shoulder and holding it firmly; this is how cancer feels. I haven’t felt a tumor give me pain as much as I did when I was 13. (Though nothing will ever compare to that) It’s pain just reminding me more and more that it is real, it is back.
Not just my own cancer cells within me are growing, but the talk of cancer is growing and spreading is as well. A friend learns of her mom being diagnosed with cancer. I learn that my brother of surivorship and friend passes away from his own battle yesterday. Co-workers hear of cancer effecting their own friends and family. Cancer seems to not just be multiplying within me but around me. Where is the chemo treatment for those thoughts, those moments? God, when will you take this cancer away from all of us and heal us?
That is the only treatment I do know that is strong and never wavering, never failing: the perspective shift back to Him and not my circumstances. I can’t possibly imagine what is coming next and he always suprises me with new thoughts, new hopes, new friends, new life. I am looking, reminding myself of the things He did bring last time (man, that was such a short time ago, a year ago) What more can I learn? What more do You want to show me? And for purposes am I going back into this now?
Even though Skylor’s death saddens me so much, God keeps bringing me back to that moment where He sovereignly had us meet. He is always using the bad things of this world for the good, and Skylor and our time reminds me of that over and over. There are new cells of hope, not cancer, growing within me. They are silent but surely there.
7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My hope is in you.
I am looking, I am searching.
I am hoping, I am seeking.
I am waiting, waiting.
Please pray for me and my family and friends as we try to figure out next plans, next steps in treatment. Thank you, thank you already for all the prayers and thoughts you have been sharing with me and my family.
I’ll be here, faithfully blogging and updating and journaling again through this blog if you wish to be updated on my health and all the new thoughts and insights He is always faithfully showing me.
My story will always be here. I’m not going anywhere.
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