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 7 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.)
Friday, July 28
I’m blessed with a few intimate friends I can turn to for wisdom. Mary Beth is one such friend. She encouraged me a couple of days ago when we discussed my impending diagnosis.
“Sometimes the Lord lets us receive terrible news,” she said, speaking with tenderness born of personal experience. “And, as we grapple with that news, we’re changed. Then sometimes once we’re changed—perhaps even because we’re changed—the outcome we feared never comes to pass.” She is quiet for a moment, and then she adds, “I will be praying for you, Stacy.”
I remember her words as I sip coffee and open my One Year Living Bible. This morning’s reading defines my attitude and becomes my prayer:
“It is the Lord’s will,
let Him do as He thinks best.”
1 Samuel 3:18
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I’m alone when Dr. T calls with my test results.
The radio plays in the background. I just heard a guest speak on the delicate subject of talking to toddlers and young children about death—particularly the death of a parent. And then the telephone rang.
“Are you familiar with adeno carcinoma?” Dr. T asks.
No…not yet, anyway.
He explains that it is an aggressive, unpredictable form of cancer and, unfortunately, I have it. But we may be catching it early—before it invades my lymph nodes and spreads. He has already discussed my case with a gynecological oncologist, who recommends an immediate radical hysterectomy. (This is far more extensive or “radical” than a standard hysterectomy).
I feel my heart constrict as I realize the space I had painstakingly cleared in my schedule to relax with my boys will now be consumed by major surgery. (And who knows what else?)
When I ask Dr. T if I can savor the summer with my family and have the surgery in the fall, he emphasizes it is important to act swiftly. His detailed medical description conjures the image of animated cancer cells knocking on a door. Hopefully no one has answered yet—but if that door opens, the cancer can travel rapidly.
Before we hang up, Dr. T gives me a telephone number and tells me the gynecological oncologist awaits my call. So much for those lazy days of blowing bubbles with my babies.
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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.