Saturday, May 14, 2016

They Gave Me Life, Saved My Life, and Made Me Live

Cancer is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. It ranks up there with losing my grandma Ruth too soon and too unexpectedly and not having anyone to walk me down the isle at my wedding. Those are the things you don't quite recover from, you just patch up and move on.

I have a million amazing memories of the times I spent with Grandma Ruth that make it feel like she's here and someday I'll have a vow renewal where my sweet son will walk me down the isle and erase the pain of not having someone by my side in that first moment, but cancer has changed things forever. 

In an older post I said that I hoped someday cancer would become part of my testimony and it has. I hoped so much that I'd be able to talk about cancer with more than just fear, anxiety, and trauma but I never really believed I would. Tonight, I am. 

A couple of months ago I finally sat down with my girls and told them that I am a cencer survivor.  When I'd been diagnosed, I made it a point to keep it from them and I told everyone I knew that they couldn't tell them. Our church secretary went so far as to send an email to the entire church, explaining that we were NOT using the word "cancer" in front of our children. I was so overwhelmed with dealing with cancer, physically, mentally, and emotionally that I knew I couldn't navigate the parenting part of that too. I had to understand myself before I could help them understand. I stand by that decision, still today, because as hard as it was to keep it from them I had to take care of me first. I tell my kids that you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself and I had to do that.   

I sat the kids down and told them that when I'd been sick and had surgeries on "the icky stuff on my knee," that it was actually cancer. I explained to them that the oncologist was confident that I'd be okay.  I told them I am cancer free! Then I explained the part that each of them had played, not only in my recovery, but in my life. 

Hadley made me a mommy. I never understood love until she was born. After falling in love with her I've become a better Christian, a better wife, and a better human. She changed everything, I never knew love could be like this. If she hadn't paved the way, coming into this world six weeks early and weighing under five pounds, I don't know where I'd be now. I have watched her from a very early age show love. She wants to take care of everyone and she loves people and doesn't understand why some people don't love everyone. She showed me love and she gave me life. 

Lydia saved my life. When the Holy Spirit was calling and I didn't answer, God used Lydia. I will never forget sitting in the bath tub and her pushing on my tumor, that had repeatedly diagnosed as a cyst or lypoma, saying "mommy, you're so pretty, I wish you didn't have that because it's so ugly."  Boom!  I KNEW in that moment that I needed to see a new doctor who would take me seriously.  So I went to the doctor and I was persistent because God spoke to me through Lydia. The Holy Spirit moved me to leave my doctor who'd written it off as a cyst and see someone else. Lydia is the reason I asked (begged!) our friend, a surgeon, to operate. Thank goodness he is a good christian man who didn't think I was completely off my rocker when I said "I would never ask this favor, because it's wrong to ask this of a friend but something, I believe the Holy Spirit, is telling me I have to have this removed. It has to be gone!"  Thank God for my surgeon who listened to what the Holy Spirit was telling us. Lydia is the reason the oncologist walked into the room grinning and elated to share the good news that he so rarely gets to share. He said "I have good news. I don't get to share good news with this type of cancer. I usually tell people how long they have left, but I get to tell you that you're going to be okay." She saved my life.

And Kip is the reason I pushed through. When I found out I had cancer I was devastated. I had a new baby, and I was convinced I was going to die. A mix of post partum hormones and paralyzing anxiety is terrifyingly toxic. Baby Kip didn't care that mommy had a major health condition, he didn't care that emotionally I was destroyed, he didn't understand anyone's needs but his own. He cared that his diaper was wet and his belly was empty and that he felt better with mommy. I didn't have the will to push through, but he willed me to.  It would have been very easy to give up if I hadn't had such a demanding little human in my life. He made me live!

So cancer has become part of my testimony and I'm thankful for the changes its made in my life. I'm still working through the (now diagnosed) PTSD and the occasional anxiety attacks, but with God, my family, and my friends, I can do it.  I can talk about cancer, scary things, emotions, strengths and weaknesses.  My kids know how important they are in this life and they know that experiencing and feeling the entire gamut of emotions is okay.  Sometimes all at once!  And most importantly, they know that God hears our cries and we are strong because we are children of God. We are sons and daughters of the King.

Psalms 143:1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.

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