A Cancer Story: First Time I Cried and a Moment of Clarity
March 15, 2016
[This entire week I'm posting snapshots of my cancer story. The entire story, along with thoughts, insights, devotionals, and all the honest-to-goodness truth about dealing with cancer can be found in my memoir, Finding My Way.]
The first time I cried about the cancer was about a week after diagnosis. I had already seen the surgeon and the oncologist. I'd gotten the news, the plan, and the prognosis. I knew what the next year would look like . . . or so I thought.
But it was one morning on my way to work when the weight of the entire ordeal broke loose from its moorings and landed on my shoulders. I remember it like it just happened last week. I was doing forty-five down Lehman Road and those pesky thoughts of death wormed their way into my mind. I wasn't afraid of dying, though. No, I know where I'm going, that's not the problem. There's no fear there. I was afraid for my family. I didn't want my wife being a widow at 31 years old; I didn't want my three daughters, just 9, 7, and 6, to grow up fatherless. I couldn't stand even the idea of it. And the more those thoughts bounced around in my head the more the tears pressed on the back of my eyes.
Finally, the dam let loose and the tears surged. And there I was, blurry-eyed, all sniffles and sobs, praying, "God, let this thing be as uncomfortable as it has to be but please spare my life."
It was the first time in my life I had ever stared death in the face. It's ugly, let me tell you. Like I said, I wasn't afraid of that beast either, I was afraid of the destruction it would leave in its wake.
I needed that cry too, needed it to cleanse my worries and push me to the point of throwing the ordeal at God's feet. I wouldn't cry again until chemotherapy did its dark magic on my emotions.
I learned during that trip to work that suffering serves as a reminder of our own mortality. It forces us to the realization that we're not as in control as we'd like to think we are . . . and we're not as strong as we imagine ourselves to be.
Cancer does a lot of things to you. It's a formidable foe that deserves respect. From the beginning my oncologist told us we needed to respect this disease and not treat it lightly. It's truly the stuff of life and death.
And that has a profound effect on you. On the way you see life, the way you see yourself, your accomplishments, your goals, your family, your purpose for being here.
I remember early on being so overwhelmed with all the information we were being fed that I just wanted to get away from it all. I wanted to seclude myself away, deal with this ordeal, then get back to living when it was all said and done.
But God is more powerful than cancer and He, too, does a lot of things to you. During those occasional moments of clarity and, yes, maybe even sanity I heard God's voice through all the clutter of appointments and tests and results. And what he told me really made me think.
During one of those reprieves from the stress and fear and clouded outlook I had such a certainty about the whole thing that I told my wife something I would never forget, a truth that I clung to throughout the duration of the battle (and still cling to).
I said that two things would be accomplished through this trial we were about to enter.
One, we would surely emerge on the other side better and stronger people.
And two, when this was all said and done we would have gone through an experience we could share with others and possibly be an encouragement to folks going through the same or similar trials.
Knowing the frame of mind I was in at the time, I don't know where that came from. Well, actually, I do know where it came from and it wasn't from me . . . it had to be of God.
All this month my memoir, Finding My Way, is on sale. The ebook is only 99 cents and the paperback is $7.70. It's so much more than a story about cancer. It's a story about life, about trials and struggles and finding hope in the midst of ever storm.