I’ve heard those words every day for the past seven weeks, as I gave my body over to the monster machine that’s been doing my radiation.
Four months ago I had my annual physical. I left the office breathing a huge sigh of relief. The doctor said I was perfectly healthy, and for someone who had just signed up for Medicare, I thought I was doing pretty great.
Until I had my mammogram.
I didn’t receive the little blue card in the mail telling me things were alright. I received a phone call instead, telling me to come in for a re-take and a possible ultrasound. Since they had called me in once before to have a re-take, I wasn’t too worried.
So I showed up at the office and waited, while trying not to bite my nails. They repeated the mammogram, then asked me to wait. “Oh yes,” she said, “and don’t get dressed yet.”
So I kept my lovely gown on, what there was of it, and sat and waited.
“The doctor does want to do an ultrasound,” she said.
So I marched off to the next room, trying as best I could to keep the gown together for some semblance of modesty. I laid down on the table for the test, no problem, no pain, and I watched on the monitor.
She asked me to sit in the chair again until the doctor checked the results.
The doctor came into the room, laid her chart on the counter, and pulled up a chair directly in front of me.
“We found something on the ultrasound,” the doctor said, “and we need to do a biopsy. Not all biopsies come back benign.” she added.
Is she trying to prepare me with a warning? I wondered.
I walked out of the office with a racing heart and drove over to see my daughter, Lynn. She told me things would be okay and promised to go with me for the biopsy.
On the day of the biopsy my daughter picked me up and drove me to the office. The nurse called me back to the room. I got undressed, climbed on the table and laid down to prepare for the test.
I didn’t want to think too far ahead, so I tried to focus only on the moment. Most of the time
was spent in prep work, getting ready for the procedure. The biopsy itself was over in a couple of minutes. Thankful that everything was finished, I breathed a sign of relief and was pleased to find out that it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. I walked over and sat down to wait. Glancing around the room at the large clock on the wall and all the sterile instruments everywhere only added to the frightened thoughts that kept invading my mind. Then came the anxious time of waiting.
The night before I got the results, I had a dream. Someone spoke to me and asked, “If it’s bad, will you trust me?” Before I could even speak, my phone rang. Whew, I got out of answering that question! It was after midnight and no one calls at that hour, unless it’s bad news. But it was two text messages from a friend, asking how I was doing. I thought it was strange because that friend goes to bed early, along with the chickens. I read her messages telling me that I was in her prayers.
As soon as I hung up the phone, I heard the voice again, not out loud, but very strongly in my spirit.
“If it’s bad, will you trust me?”
I knew who was speaking.
“Yes, Lord,” I answered, then laid back down and fell into a peaceful sleep.
The next morning the doctor called and my life changed forever. I had breast cancer. The good news was that they had caught it early. She would set me up to see a surgeon.
I had never had any type of surgery and I was afraid. I cried and cried and I cried some more. Then I called my daughter, Lynn. While I was on my way over to her house, I got a call from the surgeon’s office. They didn’t waste any time setting me up with an appointment.
I walked into Lynn’s house in tears. She surrounded me with open arms. Her husband, Alan, was also there for support.
“I have an appointment already, with a surgeon,” I said. “But I don’t know if it’s for a consultation, or if I’ll even walk out of there with my boob.”
“Oh yeah,” Alan said, “you will, but it might be in a bag.”
Everyone laughed and that eased the tension.
We sat and they prayed for me. My other daughter, Pam, my son, Trevor, and two of my sisters, Penny & Rena, all called to offer support. They talked me through my first day and I felt the peace that passes all understanding.
God’s peace would come and go, all depending on my thoughts at any given moment.
After seeing the doctor, and going over all the options, we decided a lumpectomy would be the best for my situation. I was so afraid.
I never was one to bow down in prayer, I figured God could hear me no matter what. I remember one day in church when they asked everyone to kneel in prayer.
You know I can’t kneel, Lord, with this arthritis, I may not be able to get back up.
The next morning I spilled coffee all over the table and the floor. I ran for a rag then got down on my hands and knees to clean the mess. That still, small voice spoke to me.
“I thought you couldn’t get down on your knees?”
I was reminded of what I’d said earlier, knowing that it was only an excuse, and I felt ashamed.
Fear of the big C, drove me to my knees every day as I cried out to the Lord. Family and friends prayed with me, held me up with their strength and suppported me with their love.
And God is good. I felt His presence. He heard and answered all the prayers on my behalf. He made the hard things easy and I came safely through the surgery with many blessings. The tumor was small, all the margins were clear and five lymph nodes tested negative. The Oncotype DX test came back at a number which meant that I didn’t need chemo. But I would need radiation treatments for seven weeks.
God told me not to be afraid. But instead of listening to Him, I started listening to others. Some people felt the need to tell me all the horror stories of the ones who didn’t survive. Fear reigned supreme. For me, radiation was the largest emotional battle of my life. But God kept his promise to not let me go through it alone. And as I started to listen to and trust Him, He held my hand and walked me through another valley in my life. Through all the prayers God gave me a feeling of peace. Two days before Christmas, as I listened to my CD of the HALLELUJAH Chorus, I had my last treatment with radiation. When it was over I started crying so hard they rushed over and wanted to know what was wrong.
“I’m just praising the Lord,” I said, “and I feel great.” The doctor told me that I did so well, maybe I should get a job in radiation. God brought me a long way in those seven weeks.
God has walked me through many other valleys that I didn’t think I could endure, and in my own strength, I couldn’t have. But, ever since the day I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and transform my heart, over 37 years ago, God has been working. He continues to patiently teach me not to look at my problems, but to keep my eyes on Him. And as long as I keep my focus on Him, my heart knows a peace that calms my soul.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3
June 28, 2012
Total Word Count 1419