When I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in 2000, I came face-to-face with my own mortality—and learned some profound lessons that transformed my view of reality. I would never sign up for my cancer experience, but neither would I trade away the treasures mined from it.
Above all, I learned to live with the awareness that we all really do have an impending, inescapable appointment awaiting us. We all have an appointment with God. No matter how busy or distracted we are or how distant that appointment may seem, one telephone call can change everything.
My call came when I was a 40-year-old mother of two preschool children and a happily married wife. The following post is Part 3 in “Snapshots of a Mother’s Cancer Experience,” a series that chronicles my journey through diagnosis, surgery, and beyond. (You can find a chronological list of the previous Snapshots here.)
Thursday, July 6
“Mommy has to go to the doctor,” I tell my son Roger Dean as I strap him in his car seat beside his younger brother Ryan. I load the passenger seat of our 1995 Toyota Corolla with a diaper bag that bulges with most everything necessary to travel (even a short distance) with my soon to be three-year-old and 15-month-old sons.
“Dr. Edge?” Roger Dean furrows his brow. “I don’t get weighed!”
“No, you don’t get weighed. This time Mommy sees the doctor.”
Roger Dean looks relieved. Since his last pediatric exam, he’s developed an irrational fear of being weighed. So, of course, his daddy often playfully suggests that we take him to the doctor to get weighed. (Daddy is quite a joker.) But this time when we arrive at the doctor’s office, I’m the one who is reluctant to be weighed.
I’d intentionally postponed my annual gynecological exam until six days before my 40th birthday, vainly hoping to use the appointment as an incentive to lose weight. But now, as the nurse announces that I weigh more than I’d hoped, I admit to myself that—as the mother of two preschoolers—weight loss is not my top priority (nor should it be). I decide to relax.
(Besides, I weigh a lot less than I did last time I came here, six weeks after I gave birth to Ryan!)
Earlier today I composed a thank you letter to Dr. T, who delivered Ryan. His partner, Dr. M, delivered Roger Dean. It’s hard to describe my feelings toward these doctors whose hands pulled my babies into the world….
I hand the letter to Dr. T.
“What’s this?” he asks.
“Just a note of thanks. You can read it later.”
“Great. I will.” He places it with my chart and proceeds with the exam and my first Pap smear in two years.
Prior to this appointment, Roger had shared with me that he didn’t feel free to try to conceive another baby. He loves our two boys passionately and would love a family of at least four children, but he feels restricted by our limited space and finances.
I was shocked at first, and deeply saddened. I had thought we were on a roll—two boys in less than two years—and that I’d soon be pregnant again. But as I grieved and accepted the loss that accompanied Roger’s decision, I became all the more determined to relish every moment with our precious boys. Throughout the spring I had worked to clear away commitments and complete tasks so I’ll be free to engage in summertime adventures with my sons. Now that summer is here, I eagerly anticipate many visits to water parks, bike paths, and outdoor concerts—lazy days of giggling and blowing bubbles into summer breezes.
Dr. T bids me farewell and tells me, “No news is good news.” He explains that I will hear from his office only if my Pap smear results are abnormal. I joke about how, since my 40th birthday is fast approaching, my warranty is about to expire….
Come back next Monday to read more. And in the mean time, we would love to hear from you! Have you faced (or are you facing) a serious health situation? We would love to pray for you.