When one gets a medical diagnosis that runs on the scary side, meaning your life is endangered, one works diligently to get to the good side of that diagnosis, if possible.
Garry and I knew from the beginning of my diagnosis, based on information we were given, that we might not get to the good side, or to the solution we prayed/hoped/begged for, that so many of you prayed for, and we came to a place of acceptance if it turned out not to be.
In essence, we came to an acceptance that there was a possibility breast cancer would kill me.
That was not an easy task, nor do I write those words with ease; to accept that death to this world might come much earlier than we thought, was one of the saddest things we have done together.
Our faith calls us to believe that this life is not the end, so we believe. Not on blind faith, but on the word of God. As Christians, our joy in the hardest places is knowing this life is not the end; our joy is knowing we will be reunited with those we love again. It is through that knowing that allowed me strength for each tough day, each cry, each moment of weakness.
My prayers, your prayers, were answered. Today, I am cancer-free with the hope of accomplishing the work he gave me to do (John 17:4).
When we got the news that I had reached pCR (pathological complete response = better survival rates, lower recurrence rates), we were overcome with joy. We (the collective we: prayer, SCIENCE!, more prayer) made it to the other side, to the good side, of my diagnosis. To be standing in this unbelievable place is truly humbling and overwhelming.
Yet…with every prayer of thanksgiving for this result (and I THANK YOU for not only the prayers, but the cries of thanksgiving), I felt uncomfortable twinges. Why?
#1: I know that there are many who pray unceasingly and don’t get the results that produce joyful tears. My heart aches for them and the loss they experience.
#2: I wanted those praying for me to understand what we had accepted: that even if the results of my treatments were unsuccessful, we were still grateful for their prayer and would accept the results as the hand of God working in our collective lives.
#3: I wanted you to know that my joy of this world, the love I have for God, would never be hindered by the knowledge that I would have to leave sooner than later.
Praying for the best of the best is a natural desire. Our instinct to live is powerful. I am dumbfounded that I was granted, that you were granted, the prayers we pleaded. I imagined God’s throne being stormed each day by those who knew me, who loved me, and who wanted me to stick around. I am grateful for each one of your prayers.
Yet, what if our wants and desires had not been met? Would that change how I felt? Would that diminish my faith? Would it indicate prayer is useless, that God is a myth?
For me the answer is always no. “Your will, not ours,” was the prayer on our lips, in our hearts. My desire to stay and play longer was innate. I didn’t want to leave my family; it would break my heart to do so. The other side of that was it remained to be seen whether or not I had accomplished the work he had set for me before I was born. If so, I was headed home. Turns out, I have more to do, by our latest news.
I am thrilled. My family is thrilled. I know many of you are thrilled.
Upon hearing the surgeon give me the final pathology report and hearing the glee in his voice, I burst into tears of joy. As it was right and good to do.
Had I heard news that would have made me burst into tears of grief, as it would have been right to do as well, I still wanted you to know that I would have accepted the news with sorrowful grace (or I hope I would have) and got busy making the most of the days I had left.
There are no guarantees. I’m cancer-free, but that fact doesn’t automatically mean I will live to see old age. What it means for me is that I will live. I will live the rest of my days in the way I pray makes my God happy that I am his servant.
I am determined to be thankful no matter the answer I desire for my prayers. I either trust God in all things or I don’t. You’re either on the bus or you get off. Baby, I’m on the bus!
I just wanted y’all to know that no matter how this had ended, no matter where my story took me, I have been and forever will be humbled by the joyful answered prayers and by your continuous knocking on heaven’s door for me and my family.