At this point in the journey, as I look back over those emails, I begin to see a lot of words that would cause much anxiety over the next few years...some of them I had never even heard before, but would become acquainted with intimately.
PET scan...surgery...pathology report...lymph nodes...metastasize...immunotherapy...margins...
There were doctor's appointments after doctor's appointments and tests after tests. All of it fought my peace in the fiercest of battles time and again, and it seemed as soon as we got any bit of good or even "adequate" news, another battle was just around the next corner. There was no rest from the worry. I can recall sitting in front of my computer one day, playing the "what-if" game. You know that game. You play it all the time...
What if the bills don't get paid?
What if my kids get into trouble?
What if I lose my job?
What if my husband leaves me?
What if I never marry?
What if something goes wrong with the house?
What if I never have that baby?
Remember? You know that game as well as I do, and cancer will take it to a whole new level. Except, you jump quickly to the bottom line.
What if he dies?
There are no guarantees on life or death when it comes to an illness like cancer, much less the road to life or death. No one can tell you at diagnosis how many surgeries there will be, how many rounds of chemo or PET scans he will face, how many times he may or may not go into remission and how many times he will relapse. My mind headed down every one of these rabbit trails and many more time and again early in the diagnosis and I struggled with my helplessness. So...as I am sitting in front of my computer on that day, it occurred to me I had a choice. I could either focus on God and let Him lead me though this nightmare, or I could focus on the nightmare...and very literally lose my mind playing that wretched "what-if" game. I couldn't live like that, and I praise God continually for that moment of clarity. It saved me, and I believe chartered this course to be one of blessing rather than despondency...of beauty rather than bitterness. I was in no emotional state nor at a level of spiritual maturity at the time to be so wise and coherent all alone. Oh, no. That was the Lord, and the ministering of His beautiful Holy Spirit.
I learned so many precious lessons on this journey with my big brother. But this one...the necessity of taking life 24 hours at a time...was by far one of the most valuable. I practice it every day that I live and breathe. It's what He intended, you know...
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Day by day, and moment by moment, seeking not our own gain but just seeking Him. He is the prize, after all. I praise God that I am finally beginning to truly understand that. He taught me to take each hurdle as it came, focused solely on Him. In this way, He made me stronger for the next hurdle...and the next...and the next...
March 1, 2004
...Chad just went in a few moments ago to have the PET Scan. Please pray as hard as you can.
March 4, 2004
Chad is going in for surgery in the morning at CMC, around 11am...pray for healing and that God will bless our family through this.
March 8, 2004
I wanted to give you all an update on Chad's surgery. Things didn't go as well as we had hoped...You think you have faith, and then something like this comes along and it's so hard to say, "Whatever you want, God."
Those hurdles continued of course, and they still do, but as I determined to take my fearful and anxious thoughts captive and redirect my focus to Him...His cross...His suffering...His sacrifice...the whole situation transformed before me. It began to glow with a beauty and a depth and an abundance such that I had never before seen...
Turn your eyes upon Jesus...look full in His wonderful face...and the things of earth will grow strangely dim...in the light of His glory and grace...