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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

He's In The Waiting

Two weeks ago, I had my three month follow up appointment with my dermatologist.  It was a routine appointment where I would have another complete skin exam.  Since my surgery in May, I have not really thought too much about the cancer and my experience.  However, as I realized this appointment was getting closer, I began to be filled will fear.  The “what ifs” are paralyzing to me.  Having the melanoma on my shoulder allowed me to walk through the worst fear that I had (having cancer).  It’s not so much the having cancer, but the dying from cancer and leaving my children without a mother that is the root of my fear.  I’ve spent a lot of my life paralyzed with fear and anxiety.  A fear that really took root when my father died so quickly from cancer.  But in the last three years, I have really had a big break through and have been able to walk a new freedom.  

I wanted to postpone the appointment and deep down I just honestly did not want to go back the office and relive everything I have been through.  Seeing the doctor that made the “phone call” to tell me I had cancer, seeing the room where I had a huge chunk of my shoulder removed, and being faced with the prospect of the process starting all over again.  But, every time I looked at Matthew, I knew I would be walking into the doctor office to face my fears on Wednesday.  Catching skin cancer early, is the most preventable and simplest way to deal with it.  No matter the outcome it was time once again to face the music.

I really expected good news on Wednesday.  I built myself up, and sang on the way to the doctor’s office.  I expected that everything was going well and my scar was healing well.  However, I was not prepared for the dermatologist to remove three more suspicious spots on my body.  The most I have ever had removed at one time.  I lay on the table determined not to cry.  I left feeling defeated and with stitches in three different spots.  I felt right back in the same spot I had been in three months earlier….the waiting.  So.much.waiting.

If I could tell you about my 2017, I would tell you it has been the year of waiting.  It has been a difficult year.  I told Mark that I did not want to do this again.  I was tired.  So tired of waiting.  He told me that there must be something that we need to learn during this time.  I think daggers shot out of my eyes when he said that, after all... I was the one whose body resembled Swiss cheese.  However,  I was reminded of the song we sang Sunday at church “He’s in the waiting.”  Every day this week I have woken up singing that song. 

(This is what it looked like to be marked up for skin cancer surgery)

It seems I have been waiting for something since this year started: Matthew’s therapy and swallow study in March, Luke’s IEP, my first round of cancer and results, results from lab work, results from a mammogram I needed due to having cancer and my family history, I am still waiting on closure to car accident I had in 2015, and now waiting on results from these biopsies.  And yet…in it all…all the waiting…I know He is there with me, beside me, in front of me, behind me, a head of me.  He is in the waiting...even if it doesn't feel good or right or comfortable.

I began to really listen to the words of that song and there were a couple of things that I heard.  The first is that God is in control.  I know...I sounds simple enough.  The first part of the song says “He’ll reveal what’s to come.”  This is a very difficult lesson for me because I want to be in control.  But with all this medical stuff I am reminded that I am not in control.  There was another time in life, when we were in the process of adopting Luke, that I knew God was in complete control and I was along for the ride.  There was literally NOTHING that we could do to make the pieces fit together.  It was all God.  The second part of the song that spoke to me was “Hold on to your hope, as your triumph unfolds.”  This particular phrase spoke to me in the midst of wondering if I am going to face cancer again, and how bad would it be, and would I die from it.  The song never talks about defeat, or losing.  And I know…that is right.  Even in death, it is a victory because of what Jesus did on the cross.  It is ALWAYS a triumph.  So even if I faced the absolute worst…it is still a triumph because he’s never failing.  “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

(The dark spot on my shoulder was the skin cancer.  I had no idea when we were in Hawaii in February.  But this is what it looked like...PSA...please get a skin exam.  It is no fun but they are painless...even if they remove things they numb you up.  Prevention/early detection is key.  We never think it is going to be us).

This summer has been a rather lonely one for me.  Mark’s work schedule is crazy and I often spent days at a time with just the kids.  Even that school has begun and routines have been reestablished I find myself at times lonelier (if that is possible).  Don't get me wrong...I cherish  my time with Man Cub; however he isn't so great at carrying on a conversation.  I am in a place in life where I don’t have any of my titles I have I had in the past (teacher, foster parent, worship leader, mentor) and it’s been a difficult road to navigate at times.  There are times I feel invisible, and I wonder how I have arrived at this place.  I used to do so many things.  I am a highly educated woman with experience in many different areas, but in this season of life it is just "me" and my past it just that...past.  It’s a newer season for me, and sometimes difficult because I wonder if I have lost part of myself.

I find myself longing to travel (not even very far).  I wanted to see the Redwoods this summer.  In truth...when I found out I had cancer in May, I wanted nothing more than to drive to the Redwoods this summer and stand beneath the magical trees and listen to the quiet, and see if perhaps they might speak to me.  I wanted to feel small, and I wanted to soak in the wonder of the giants.  I wanted to hike part of the Pacific Crest trail (even a few steps)...not to recreate Wild but check something off my bucket list.  I never had a bucket list until I was face to face with the beast called cancer.  Even though my physical battle with cancer was short, the emotional battle continues on.  Louder at times and more pronounced and then quieter and further away. It lingers in the wings of my life.  It surrounds is always close by.  I am reminded that my life is fragile and everything can shift  in a moment.  I never made it to the trees this summer...there are still some major wild fires burning in the area.  Maybe this fall...maybe...hopefully.

I had prepared myself for approx. a week wait for results from the three biopsies. I had come to realize that probably for the rest of my life, I will be going through this. I prayed for peace and decided this time I would fill my mind with positive thoughts.  I have realized worry won't change results.  So I of course decided to solve all the house problems and rearrange furniture, bedrooms and declutter the kids’ rooms.  LOL.  But I decided that no matter the results, I didn’t want to lose a week of my life which included things like the kids’ back to school night, first day of school and several appointments with my kids because I was paralyzed with fear.  He’s in the waiting! 

Much to my surprise I received and email update on my biopsies and all three came back benign with no evidence of cancer!  Apparently, because of my history they were able to put a rush order on them. and they were back in 48 hours.  What a great end to this week!  And so...the journey continues.  Life goes on... and next up is my referral to OHSU to have something called "Mole Mapping" done.  Now I believe mole mapping is referred to as "Spectra".  It is digital photography of your entire body to track the changes of moles.  Perhaps...fingers crossed...this will keep me from looking like Swiss cheeses every six months.  Here's hoping!!!

Take Courage
Slow down take time, breathe in He says He’ll reveal what’s to come
The thoughts in his mind, always higher than mine
He will reveal all that comes

So take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul
He’s in the waiting, He’s in the waiting
Hold on to your hope, as your triumph unfolds
He’s never failing, He’s never failing

Sing praise my soul, find strength in joy, let His words lead you on
Do not forget, His great faithfulness,
He’ll finish all he’s begun

And you who hold the stars, who call them each by name
Will surely your keep your promise to me
That I will rise in your victory

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