The Aftermath

Living with cancer is a funny thing. In the throes of proverbial battle, I felt on edge and every day seemed uncertain. The goal, of course was to heal the cancerous cells and achieve scans showing no evidence of disease. It took over a year but I achieved that goal. But….now what? I know from experience that goal can be snatched away with another recurrence. The constant bloodwork, dr’s appointment, travel, arranging of childcare, and stress associated with all those things has greatly subsided. However, the emotional destruction left in its path remains.

The past few days I have felt so….I can’t even put it into words. My cancer journey isn’t over; it likely never will be this side of heaven. I feel like I have been living through a hurricane and now that the brunt of the storm is passed, I have the time to look around and assess the damage left in its wake. While I survey the damage, I wonder if I am simply in the eye of the storm, needing to brace myself for impact again, or if it truly is over. I find myself crying at the drop of the hat, snapping at others, and just emotionally and physically exhausted. I still suffer from “chemo brain,” I have permanent tinnitus, my chest bears scars and concavity where my breasts once sat, my hormones are all over the place, my libido is still haywire (yup chemo kills that too). I’m a hot mess express. But at least I don’t have active cancer, right?

I look up and glance at a black and white picture of our three children, taken shortly before my original diagnosis. I realize that every time I look at that picture, I see their innocence; a time before cancer. I see the cusp of the turning point in their lives; the calm before the storm, and I grieve a little. I realize now, that while I have overwhelmingly been able to see the blessings and silver linings throughout this cancer journey, I have often stifled any thoughts or expressions of anger or displeasure. That, my friends, is not healthy.

Ironically, or maybe not, it was through my pastor’s sermon on Psalm 31 this past week (click here to watch it) that God showed me it is perfectly ok and healthy to express my frustration, my hurts, my disappointment, even my anger. Everything is NOT awesome. I CAN rejoice at the blessings that have come along this journey and celebrate No Evidence of Disease AND say that the journey was hard, long, painful. I can express my frustration and miss my breasts (although not needing to wear a bra is pretty awesome). In fact, God WANTS us to be honest with him! He wants us to tell him what we have been through and are going through. He wants us to express our anger. Think about it, do you want your child to confide in you, even when they are going through tough times? OF COURSE! You want them to confide in you ESPECIALLY when they are going through tough times! You don’t want them to pretend everything is awesome when in fact, they are hurting!

But then, what do we do with that honesty, frustration, and anger? Well, I remember God’s faithfulness to me in the past. I remember his faithfulness in the Bible. He has led me on this journey. I remember he provided childcare at the last minute when a suddenly feverish child couldn’t be watched by our pregnant friend. He provided the funds to pay for needed treatments that insurance wouldn’t cover SO. MANY. TIMES. He provided insurance the exact day our son broke his arm. He provided a place to live that evening. He provided words of encouragement in messages, texts, and cards with just the right words at just the right time. He provided support for my husband because let’s be honest, being the caregiver is arguably more challenging than being the patient. And yes, God has led me to healing. King David remembered God’s faithfulness by writing the Psalms. I was challenged to remember God’s faithfulness by writing here.

Remembering God’s faithfulness gives me hope for my future. Remember. Then…cry out for deliverance. Even Jesus asked for deliverance before he was betrayed and crucified. It’s ok to ask for deliverance (I needed that reminder)! King David requested “speedily” deliverance! Finally, I commit to trusting God in the present. “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” Waiting doesn’t have to be passive; it can be active too. I’ve come to realize that what my pastor closed with in his sermon is true: Our lives [on this earth] are a long, drawn-out crucifixion and God is bringing about resurrection. The previous Chapter of Psalms ….30:5 says, “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” How true that is. Weeping and all the pains and trials of earth may last on this earth, but joy will come with eternity.

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”— 1 Corinthians 2:9

Do you love Him? Do you have an eternal future to look forward to? Oh I hope and pray you do! Be honest about your hurts and give them to God!

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