Our world is broken. We see the pain and suffering in our cities and across the globe. I pray for our world and I pray that people would see hope within the midst of suffering. This week our family got slammed with our own suffering. It came after a beautiful week I had in Fort Collins, Colorado with my son Noah and my husband Greg, plus my sister Karen and my mom Ann. We were there to celebrate Noah’s 21st birthday and my mom’s 80th birthday. It was perfect fall weather—windy and cold and the fall leaves were all over the ground. It was the weekend of the lighting of all the trees in Old Town where all the shops, pubs and restaurants are. It was truly magical—it looked like we were surrounded with stars and snow. We ate well, hiked, toured the campus, shopped, and shared lots of memories and made new ones together. It was a weekend filled with love and laughter.
The day before I left for Colorado I had the biopsy on the mass in my pelvic region. I was told I would hear the results in seven to ten days. I headed to Colorado with my focus on hope and happiness with my family. I didn’t want to think about the mass or the biopsy (but of course it was always in my thoughts)—I just didn’t talk about it. My week ended with a cancelled flight in Denver and an overnight stay and a rescheduled flight that took me to Phoenix and then home, 24 hours later than expected. While I was waiting in the airport, I received a call from my oncologist’s office with a message saying that my doctor wanted to see me the next day. I absolutely knew what that meant. I called my oncologist’s nurse and left a message that said, “Hey I know what this means, and I have been down this road so many times, so please call me back or have Dr. Reid call me back and just give me the news.” After I left the message, I had to board my first flight to Phoenix and couldn’t receive calls. When I got to Phoenix, I checked my phone and my doctor had called. He said to call him back. At this point it was 8 pm and I was boarding another plane, but I knew--I absolutely knew that the mass was cancer. I arrived home exhausted and on Tuesday morning (election day), I called the nurse and said the same thing—to please just call me and give me the news. She called me back within the hour and said that they usually don’t give this news over the phone, but she and my doctor agreed that I have been down this road so she told me. The official medical news is that the mass is “adenocarcinoma consistent with original colon cancer.” In real people terms it means that the mass is cancer that originated with my colon cancer. The mass is not on an organ, but it is pushing against my kidney. I went into business mode and made the needed appointments and then contacted my insurance company to make sure they were approving it all. I now have two appointments next week: one with my oncologist and one with the colon surgeon. They will be giving me my treatment plan which I hope and pray is not extensive. My mind is racing with thoughts of chemo, radiation, surgery—all which I have been through before—and have much anxiety associated with all of them.
Now I sit in the waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Something that I am not good at—this waiting. It is hard for me, but I have learned much about waiting these past five years. Waiting means trusting. Trusting God that He knows even when I don’t. I will admit that it is hard to trust God in this. This will be round four of cancer in the past five years. It is unrelenting. I struggle to pray for strength and hope. I don’t have it on my own. I only receive the strength and hope from Jesus. I know it is okay to scream out to God and pour my doubts and fears upon Him. He knows. He suffered before me. He was mocked, misunderstood, abandoned by his friends, beaten, and then crucified. But he conquered all that with His resurrection. He conquered it for you and for me. He knows my pain and He knows yours.
On the evening that I found out that the mass was cancer, people poured into my home. Friends from church, my former church, my neighborhood, our Poway community, my Young Life family. My house was filled to the brim—people on the floor, in the kitchen, up the stairs, in the entry. Angela, Aaron and Wesley played guitars and led us in beautiful, precious worship. We all sang together and cried out to the Lord. My friend Molly led the prayers and my friends interceded in prayer for me with so much love and hope and victory. I had not cried the whole day, but the minute people started pouring into my house I couldn’t stop crying. I cried the whole night. But it was a beautiful cry. It was crying in my pain and suffering. It was also a crying of joy because I am surrounded by this amazing community who overwhelms me with love. A crying of hope because I have a God who understands, who knows, whose arms are around me in the midst of this horrible storm that I do not understand. Beauty in the broken.
The next morning I had to take our sweet dog Moses to the vet. He had been lethargic and not eating or drinking. The vet took X-rays and a blood panel and showed me the film of the X-ray and told us he needed an ultrasound. She was concerned about the fluid in his body and what looked like a mass on his spleen. I was breathless and holding back the tears. I couldn’t look at another scan with another mass. It was too much. So Greg took Moses to the ultrasound and we received more horrible news. Moses has cancer in his liver and spleen and has internal bleeding. It is inoperable and the vet said he may have one-two weeks left. We had to come home and tell Micah and then call Noah in Colorado. Two pieces of horrible news within two days. I seriously went numb. I couldn’t pray or call out to God. Thankfully our sweet friend Terri had brought us dinner and the three of us ate a delicious meal and talked together as a family. After that I went into my room and got on my knees with my Bible and I told God that I had no words. Then I sat in the waiting and the quiet. I went to God's Word. I went to a familiar verse—one that I have read many times over the years.
Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
I sat there and thanked God for who He is even though I don’t understand all that I have gone through. He is still on the throne. He is still majestic and holy. I believe that. I know that. He has shown me so much beauty in the brokenness. So much joy amidst the pain.
The verse says to tell God what I need. So I told Him that I need His peace. This peace is described as a peace that exceeds anything we can understand. That is the peace I want.
Friends, would you join me in praying for peace? Not only peace for me, but peace for many others who are suffering across the globe. Peace for our nation. Peace for our world. Peace in our hearts.
I don’t know what is ahead of me until I meet with the doctors next week. I am in the waiting. But amidst the waiting God has shown me so much beauty in the broken. He is giving me glimpses of His glory. He is giving me friends who stand in the gap when I cannot pray. He is giving me loving friends who bring meals and who drop off flowers and cards. He is giving me text messages from friends who are reaching out with love and hope. Friends who are offering encouragement. He is giving me beauty in the love of my family and my boys. We are all going through this together, but we see the beauty in the broken. And we wait.