part 1: ready. aim. fire

“We’re going to have to refer you to the oncologist.”

The words explode right there in the doctor’s office.  In a stunned fog, my mind swirls with emotions.  One word quickly rises out of the ashes….NO!

Even though my world has just been turned upside down, the doctor doesn’t let up.  He continues to fire off the bad news…

“…the ultrasound showed that you have a vascular cyst surrounding over 90% of your ovary.” He draws a picture on a piece of paper showing a normal size ovary on the right and an ovary about three times the normal size on the left.

“…the size of the cyst hasn’t changed since you received your CT scan three months ago.”  Good, right?  No, he says that this is concerning.

“…this could be a malignant tumor.” Because it’s a blood-filled cyst it means it could either be an endometrioma or a type of cancer.  No other choices.

I ask further questions to find reassurance.  He ends with…

“…I doubt this is going to be cancer but you will need to ask all of these questions to your oncologist.  I’m just not sure.”

Your oncologist?  Since when did I have an oncologist??   

I try to swallow down this moment.  I try to take His Truth and coax it down.   But sometimes fear can come snatch away the ease of swallowing.  And I find it’s one of those bitter bites in life that chokes the breath right out of me.  The feeling triggers that day.

That day when my world changed forever.  Everyone kept reassuring me everything was going to be okay; that I was just being a worrier.  People kept telling me how safe the water survival course was and reminding me of the crazy low percentage that anything bad could ever happen.  When you’re told that, and then the news of death comes literally to your doorstep, you don’t forget that.  Your world is forever changed.  You realize percentages and words don’t control a thing.  You lose faith in people telling you that, “everything is going to be alright.”  As well-intentioned as they may be, you realize you just can’t take them seriously because no one really knows everything’s going to be alright.

Here I am inside my house and the doorbell is ringing again.  I don’t know what is waiting on the other side.  Is it the news of death looming near?  I am paralyzed in fear that I am going to experience the worst case scenario again.  As a single mother, every bone in my body wants to be here with my boys to take care of them.  So I wrestle with God for days…

Wait God!  You didn’t really mean to allow this, did you?  How could you right now??   Don’t you know I am still trying to cope with my loss?  I am taken out by this news and I find myself completely paralyzed in fear of the worst.  I struggle to even read God’s promises.  I just can’t fully surrender the unknown into His hands (although I know I have no control anyways). 

One long (and I mean long) week passes and I finally meet with my oncologist.  He starts off with a positive…

“Well, I don’t think you have cancer given your age and family history.” 

As I feel some relief rush over me, I quickly remind myself...there we go again, people telling me the percentages are good.  And then the firing begins again…

“…because there is a risk that this cyst is malignant, I can’t just test it.  If it is cancer, it could spread.  The safest thing to do is to remove your left ovary, fallopian tube, and the cyst and then test it.”

“…it’ll probably be about five small incisions.”

“…If it is malignant, we will stage the cancer while you are under and then we will need to discuss the likely outcome of a hysterectomy.” 

He ends with some reassurance that he doesn’t feel like that will be the outcome and I try to take it in and think “glass-full” type scenarios.  But because he can’t promise me anything, fear still takes hold.

Surgery gets scheduled for just 10 days later.

My mind transforms into an absolute battlefield as the days pass.   I can’t let go of the what ifs.

I vent to my mother-in-law, “I wish at this point I could convince myself to just trust all the promises and let go but I’m struggling.  Life can be hard.  I believe God is here and all powerful; I believe He is sovereign over everything.  I know sin and these hard places are not His perfect plan but I also believe He controls everything and can stop anything He wants.  So I’m struggling with why He’s allowing me to face this right now.  I know there’s a bigger plan but it’s just hard being in the thick of it.”

She replies with some great wisdom, “Maybe when we ask God why He is making us suffer, we are asking the wrong question.  Maybe He wants us to ask, what am I supposed to do with this mess I am in?  Or what do You want to do through me with this mess?”

In the midst of the battlefield of the mind, I try to heed her advice.  I ponder the questions and when I can step outside of myself and the fear that surrounds me, I ask God, “What do You want to do through me with this?”

I sort and sift through the wisdom and truth I receive and battle it against the unknown future ahead.  I try to cling to the truths as I feel the fear trying to knock me down.  But God is about to drive the fear out with His perfect love.  He is about to rock my world as I process through this journey.