(( Before you get started… please take a moment to start at My Cancer Story, Part 1: Hope … quite a road through Hope and Hell took place before reaching the end… I think you’ll find it’s worth knowing the beginning ))
The word faith sounds lofty, and beautiful. Unfortunately, it’s used so much in cliché’s that we can easily forget what it really looks like to live in it. It is beautiful, truly believing in what you cannot see opens up doors of blessings and miracles we’d otherwise miss out on. But there are costs. Your plans & desires have to be traded for something better and your patience can be stretched in the waiting. Your comfort zone is blasted to pieces, making way for wide open spaces of challenges and experiences you’ve never encountered before. It grows you from the inside out, and your heart and mind go through the fire, being molded, refined and altogether transformed. And people won’t understand, they don’t get it, and that can sometimes leave you standing alone. But in faith you stand. Even when they laugh in your face. Which is exactly what my doctor did.
“The purpose in our meeting today is to discuss your next surgery and look at what our options are so we can make a plan of treatment to move forward with after the surgery…”
Psssshhhh!!!! She MUST be crazy!!!
I didn’t say that, but I sure thought it. No way in hell was I ever doing treatment again. This was THE END of that road for me.
With much respect, I kindly told Dr. Walker that while I understood and appreciated her perspective as a physician and a surgeon, I felt differently. I explained to her that I had been looking forward to this surgery for some time and that I had total faith that God had already healed me. For me, this surgery was simply about confirming to everyone else that the cancer was gone. I had no doubt that this was the case and I looked forward to that reality coming to pass. I added however, that “IF I am wrong, if you do find cancer still in this body, I’ll just go home and be with my family. I will never take chemotherapy again. But I don’t think that’ll be the case.”
She didn’t chuckle. She didn’t snicker. This woman had the audacity to all out, full belly laugh in my face. It was a hearty laugh, the kind that throws your head back. She thought I was joking. And the joke was apparently the funniest thing she’d heard all day. But I wasn’t laughing.
“We have to be realistic…” she said.
Silence came over me and I had a lump in my throat that didn’t allow me to speak. My dad doesn’t get lumps in his throat, so he had no problem responding. He gets red and a little shaky when you upset him to that point … like a bomb getting ready to blow up. But I was so proud of him. While he was visibly upset, He stood up with his tall demanding presence and simply said, “Thank you for your time.” He proceeded to open the door for us, motioned for me to get up, and we left.
My other cancer doctor totally understood our frustration and knew how I felt, but she wasn’t pleased with us walking out. “That was one of only two doctors in the city that can even perform this surgery!” I responded, “Yeah, it’s probably best if I don’t meet him before the surgery then, because anybody that is going to stand in hard opposition to the faith that is my very healing, is not putting his hands inside my body.”
The next doctor and I didn’t have a pre-surgery meeting. Instead we met in the doorway of the surgery room as I was being rolled in.
This was what they called a “second look” surgery. Blood tests can only give you an indication of what’s going on in your body. At some point, in order to actually see for sure whether or not cancer tumors are left, you have to go back in. Just like the first time, this was also supposed to be outpatient – I should have been going home the same day. And just like the first time, I again found myself still laying in the hospital bed days later.
The doctor hadn’t come by. The nurses weren’t telling me anything. My stay was dragging on and on without any word. While I was frustrated with the extended stay, and with the lack of forthcoming information about the surgery results, I was at peace. I was tired, worn out, anxious, but at peace.
Finally, the doctor came in. His face didn’t let on to anything as he approached my bedside. He asked how I was doing, if I was feeling okay and entered into some small talk. I wanted to scream – “Just tell me already!” And after what seemed like an eternity, he finally said simply that everything “looked good”. The tests didn’t show anything and they didn’t really understand it but everything was clear and I was free to go home.
“Everything looked good?” uhhhhhhh…THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE CENTURY!!!!!!!
He could downplay it all he wanted, I remembered vividly the pictures of tumors smothering my insides until they stacked on top of each other. I recalled the diagnosis of the worst possible stage and being given 2 years to live – at most. I felt every emotion, every tinge of every drop of chemical injected into my body, lived every long day of the past several months on this rollercoaster of hope and hell, and I had mustered up everything I had left in every crevice of my being to refuse the statistics and live weakly, but in faith. His casual words meant something far beyond the realms of looking “good” for me. It meant I was cancer-FREE!!!!!! The hell was over and I could LIVE AGAIN! Oh how I wanted to jump off of that bed and yell and run and dance and fly!! Being strapped to the IVs and still weak and in pain from the surgery, all I could do was smile, as wide as my mouth could stretch and assure that doctor that God had done it. He healed me.
While the doctor was tripping over his words and clearly doing his best to be professional in all his complete confusion by the results, I wasn’t confused at all. I knew full well why he couldn’t explain it, because it was a miracle.
A nurse came in moments later, smiling and happy that the doctor had finally come to give me the report and release me. She apologized over and over that my release had been delayed these days and asked me if the doctor had explained to me why they’d kept me. He had not.
She went on to tell me that over 50 biopsies had been tested and every one of them had come back clear! Because they couldn’t believe that was possible, all of the biopsies were sent off to be tested again with the same result, and yet again, and still not a trace of cancer was found. NOT A TRACE!
Can you say HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see. ~Hebrews 11:1
Is any among you sick? … and the prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed sins, you will be forgiven. ~ James 5:15
Healing AND forgiveness? Isn’t it just like God to be a multi-tasking Master, being about a million things at once – each thing being enough in and of itself…
I wouldn’t wish cancer on my worst enemy, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. As my mom put it in a prayer, “If you had made your healing known to us the first time we prayed for it, how else would we know you like we do, how else would we know we need you like we do…”
I could list a million things and write pages upon pages of the knowledge I gained, the beauty of each lesson learned through the journey, and the countless blessings that I would have never seen had I never had cancer. If it had not been for that season of cancer, I would have never moved to Oklahoma City, become involved in so many beautiful opportunities of ministry, or met and fell into deep life long relationships with all of the amazing friends I have come to know and share life with. If it had not been for having cancer, I wouldn’t understand so acutely the depth of struggle and suffering of others in sickness, and life would be a lame excuse for existence because I wouldn’t know the precious value of it that I now understand on a daily basis.
And if it had not been for cancer, there would be no Jacey.
And above all things, that is something I just cannot comprehend or imagine.
Isn’t it also just like God to turn our greatest sorrows into our greatest joys, take our worst struggles and tragedies and trade them for blessings beyond the best of our wildest dreams, and in His divine goodness turn our mourning into dancing!
Almost three years after I left that last hospital room, I found myself in another, standing bedside of the most selfless woman I’ve ever known, and seeing before my very own eyes an even greater miracle than God healing me of cancer… the birth of my daughter.
God. Is. Good. All the time.
And all the time, God is so very very very very good.
And I don’t deserve it. There is nothing special about me. I have failed him and walked outside of faith and it pains me to say honestly that in my humanity at times even forgotten that goodness and gone my own way. But in His grace, He is still good. He never lets go.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him, how I’ve proved Him over and over…
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, O for grace to trust Him more.
Thank you, for journeying with me through this process. It has refreshed my grateful heart and meant so much to me to document, to put a stamp on that which changed my life and remains a part of me forever. I am forever grateful to the many people that stood by my side both close to me and from far away, offering powerful prayers, in faith. It has taken me through tears and laughter, joy and pain to trek back through these memories, but my prayer is that it will encourage hope to the suffering, and someday it will bear proof to my sweet Jacey of God and how real He truly is – that she will know how precious she is, how much God loves her, and what all He brought about in order to bring us together.
But please know that I write it to share God’s story, not mine. He gave me life, and does daily, the least I can do is testify to His power at work. I know that many stories do not turn out as mine did. I’ve cried with those who have lost a loved one to cancer or other illnesses and I wouldn’t dare say that I understand God’s plan or will for each of us. The bible says His thoughts are not our thoughts, his ways are not our ways. What I do know is that we do not understand healing in the way He does and we cannot comprehend with our human mind the beauty in true, perfect healing from this world that takes us home to be with Him in heaven, a place beyond this world of struggle, where…
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain… ~Revelation 21:4
While I overflow with gratitude for the healing God did in me… I know too that I got the short end of the stick, for it is far better to be with Him.
But until that time comes, I will settle for walking through this life with Him in faith, pursuing a more intimate relationship with him day by day, knowing that as I remember what He has done for me I can press on, being sensitive to His presence and His miracles that continue to take place all around me. For now, until He calls me home, that is enough. How could I ask for more? He is more than enough.