Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Journey Begins!

As I return to posting, I'm struck by my last entry in August. It spoke of the benefits of allowing patience to develop in our lives during seasons of physical pain. At the time, I was daily challenged by two herniated discs. Little did I know that a hidden malady had yet to emerge as my greatest test of faith and patience.

After two weeks of being misdiagnosed with a stubborn bladder infection, an ultrasound detected some sort of obstruction in my ascending colon. A follow-up colonoscopy revealed a growth and major surgery was scheduled. Because we live in a small community, I was transported to a better-equipped hospital two hours away in Abilene.

On Friday, October 5, the biopsy results came in. Since we were not expecting a report until Monday, my  husband George took time to drive back to our home in Comanche to shower and pick up another change of clothes. It was the first time he had left my side.

The surgeon walked in and asked if my husband was nearby. I explained he would be back in a few hours. Then, without warning, the words flatly rolled out of her mouth--YOU HAVE CANCER. I really can't explain how I felt at that moment; perhaps I went numb. I remember shaking my head in agreement as she laid out the Tuesday surgery schedule and what to expect. After she left, I nestled underneath my covers. All I could do was whisper, "Father God, Father God."

I debated whether to call George or wait to tell him in person. Several agonizing hours passed. Reluctantly, I called. George is not normally a quiet person--a "Type A" personality, actually--but this time he was subdued. Afterward, I felt guilty for burdening him with such devastating news so far away. My husband got very little sleep on those fold-out hospital beds while trying to keep our household responsibilities together for two exasperating weeks of medical misses. Thankfully, his brother and sister-in-law, our next door neighbors, were there to help. Also, his employer generously gave him as much time off as needed with pay. Amazing! Still, I was concerned that George had a two-hour drive ahead of him back to the hospital--already exhausted--and now further loaded with the diagnosis everyone dreads.

Within the hour, my husband called back. His voice had changed. He sounded resolute and determined. I had heard this "George" surface many times in the past when we faced difficulties. Once again, the fighter in him rose up to enter the biggest battle he'd ever encountered.

"We are going to stand against this together as victors, not victims," he said. "This did not take God by surprise. He has a plan to see us through. Let's turn our faces toward the wall, like Hezekiah, and hear what He has to say."

Then He reminded me of Jeremiah 29:11, a verse that we posted in our house since the day of our marriage: "For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."

Within days, the surgeon successfully removed a T4a tumor. Eight out of sixteen lymph nodes were positive, so I will soon undergo six months of chemotherapy. My oncologist gives me a 90% chance of remaining cancer free. (God's prognosis is even better!)

Now begins our journey...a journey I never expected to take. However, we have seen early on the comforting hand of God at every sharp turn. Ahead of time, He placed us next door to wonderfully supportive in-laws. In fact, my sister-in-law Shana is a graduate of a culinary arts institute and is busy with plans to open her own restaurant. Nevertheless, upon hearing my diagnosis, she put all that aside to research cancer-fighting and immune-boosting foods for me to eat before, during, and after chemo. I came home to find a kitchen already stocked and menu ideas!

Shana is devoting part of her blog to what she discovered in her research for cancer patients and how she's helping me win this battle on the nutritional front. She'll be posting actual recipes she cooks for me! I invite you to drop in and become a follower: Chef Texas Rose

I'll also blog about my experiences and feelings along the way--frankly and honestly. There's no Superwoman here. My God and the strong, supportive people He's placed around me for such a time as this are the real heroes.

For those of you who enjoy my articles, they'll still publish. After all, I am convinced my purpose here on earth is not complete. In the sleepless, dark hours of the morning before being wheeled to surgery, I heard these words deep in my spirit, resounding several times and getting louder with each repetition:

"You have a race to run and a course to finish. I AM the Lord that healeth thee."

Every moment has once again become precious and full of purpose!