tuesday, june 25, 2013.
We decide to risk the wrath of our friends and family. We ditch chemo... again. I wake up the day after our appointment with Doctor Two with a very bad feeling. It isn't the dread of chemo, it's that feeling you get when you first realize you've made a horrible mistake. Like that moment when the harsh reality of natural childbirth sets in and you wonder (hopefully, only for a few fleeting moments) if you've... well, if you've made a horrible mistake!
I've had more than my fair share of tears, regrets, second guesses, and what if's as of late. None of this is easy. I wish now I hadn't been so hasty to sign up for chemo. Nobody was asking me to make a decision on the spot, but I wasn't about to go home without a final answer. I'd actually purposed in my heart to go to chemo before the doctor even entered the room to discuss my results with us. I'd overheard him speaking about a growth in grave terms out in the hallway with Nurse Nicole, and naturally assumed he was talking about me, and I fled to the path of least resistance. My heart sank, I declared that I was going to chemo, and that was that. As The Music Man very persistently asked questions, asked to see the test results, asked more questions, I cringed, wishing he would relent. How very unlike me. I didn't want questions and I didn't want answers... until I woke up the next morning. But by then the contract had been signed, and our people had been informed, and the doctor was sunning himself on some sunny shore.
But what if this isn't really about cancer? What if cancer is the least of our worries, the least of our sicknesses... and what if God wants to take us on this journey of trusting him in this storm of adversity because he wants to heal so much more than just a few rebellious cells. Believe me, these kinds of tragedies and trials bring all the ugly right up to the surface for me and God and everyone else to see it utterly unveiled and some days, like today, one thing doesn't go according to plan and absolutely everything falls apart at the seams... most of all me. The sky is beautiful and bright outside right now but it feels like such a dark, dark day. And the days just keep coming, one after the next, and I am weary. But Gabriela says that these dark days don't last long, and I know she's right so I don't give up and I keep trusting that all this tearing us down is only so he can build us back up.
A part of me is oh so weary and says, "just freaking go to chemo!" while a part of me has glimpsed how big God is and is perfectly content to wait it out for many reasons, not the least of which is curiosity. We believe God can teach us to trust him through treatment, just as we believe he can teach us to trust him through no treatment, but we do believe God is giving us a choice... that we can't make a wrong decision and that he's got us. We are seeking the Lord as if my very life depends upon it, and he is confirming in our hearts over and over and over again in beautiful and funny and really weird ways that whatever we choose, we can fully trust him.
We don't know why -- why all this is happening, why he's even giving us a choice -- but we do trust him. And it's hard to trust. Some days it's harder than you can possibly imagine. It's hard to trust when I run into a friend from that mommy group I participated in last year and she reveals that she was my age when she also didn't hear a heartbeat at 9 weeks, and she also had a miscarriage at 12 weeks, and it also turned out to be GTD, and her baby's placenta also started growing back, and she also went to SCCA... only she didn't see Doctor One, she saw The Other Doctor, and I know the very one she means. And here she is 5 years later cancer free and chasing after her wee little man who is the same age as my own Little Buddy. The Other Doctor: the very one I wasn't allowed to see because SCCA rejected my appeal... the one who my friend said was so compassionate and cared about her heart, not just her disease... the one who (5 years ago) recommended my friend try a second (supposedly unheard of) surgery a full 3 months after her first, because they should try physical options before moving on to chemical ones. These are the days it's hard to trust. These are the days I am brutally reminded that I'm not as strong as I pretend to be. These are the days when my soul feels battered and worn and so desperately tired. These are the days it's hard not to wonder what if Doctor One had given me that second surgery when I asked for it six weeks ago (a mere month after the first)? These days it's hard not to wonder what if I was fast-tracked to chemo because I have state insurance? What if I'd had private insurance, would I have received better treatment? So many what ifs. But what if is a slippery slope and I still wouldn't trade all the beauty and transformation of the last six gut wrenching weeks for a clean bill of health.
This is the already-and-not-yet. This is the ugly-beautiful. This is the in-between. And here we are, as always: waiting, hoping, praying, trusting. I can't help but think of Jesus healing the 10 lepers in Luke 17, when he sent them off to see the priest -- they were healed as they went. Or Jesus healing the man born blind man in John 9, when he made mud with his spit and put it on the man's eyes and sent him off to wash in the pool of Siloam -- he was healed after he washed. Or that one guy with leprosy in 2 Kings 5, who the prophet sent away to wash in the Jordan river 7 times -- he was healed after he humbled himself and obeyed. It was God who healed them, not the mud or the pool or the river or the walking to the priest -- but God did choose to use those things. He didn't just heal those people, he gave them opportunities to trust and obey and go through a process of partnering with him. This is our plan: trust and obey, embrace the process, and partner with him. That and rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
We have so much peace, even on these hard days. We pour over Psalm 91 and Isaiah 54 night and day and it fills us with strength and courage. We are thankful for all the blessings and gifts and very good things the Lord is doing in our hearts and lives... both in spite of and because of all this suffering. It is a long hard road, but good things take time.