I hear it all the time, and I’ve experienced it a time or two. The idea that when you step out in faith, or you are doing the work of God, Satan attacks. I think C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letter’s does this whole phenomenon justice in narrative form. All that to say, his timing has been pretty crafty.
Not more than two weeks after I arrived, reality struck. In a way that made me wonder how God was going to maneuver this situation. What he had up his sleeves to combat it, and why now? I mean really?! I just moved clear across the country, this timing really, really sucks! I’m not ready to go into detail just yet, we need more details ourselves. But if I could ask you to be praying for my family and specifically if you could pray for healing, I would be forever grateful. My family knows our God to be the God of healing, the Great Physician, and ultimately the Creator. We’re believing for positive results and are encouraged thus far. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
I’m relaxing with my feet up in a surprisingly comfortable chair at St. Luke’s Hospital in Twin Falls, Idaho. It’s almost 10:30 and my amazing mother is sound asleep in the hospital bed next to me. There are a series of ridiculous stories that lead up to this very moment. Allow me to explain.
A month and a half ago…
I’m sitting in the red-love-seat-chair-thing at Jeff and Jess’s (where I currently live in Ohio) we’re discussing how crazy my first week has been, as we prepare to watch a movie. My mom calls and we chat for a bit about the small stuff and as our conversation comes to a close she says, “Missy, I have something to tell you…” I brace myself because of the seriousness in her tone and say, “Okay?” She back pedals a bit and says, “Well, never mind, I’ll tell you when I find out more.” I interrupt her and tell her that she’s not allowed to use a serious tone like she had and then back out. So she continues to tell me that she’d found a lump in her breast during a self-examination and that she’s going in for a mammogram and an ultra sound.
About 13 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When my dad had pulled me aside and told me I thought the very worst. I saw my life flash before my eyes, except my mother was missing in it. I made promises to God that day and requests I can’t repeat. She made it through a lumpectomy and several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. In the midst of all that she was pretty severely burned by the radiation, which caused her to not be able to consume anything even slightly acidic. On top of that she also maintained the life style of a mother with 12 year old twins and an 8 year old. One night while taking my brother to tie-kwon-do she slipped on a patch of ice and broke her tibia and fibula. Get this: cancer patient, enduring chemo and radiation, mother of 3, leg busted in 2 places and she still went to work every. day. as. a… COSMETOLOGIST. If you don’t get the significance of that… they sand on their feet all day for a living! Chuck-freaking-Norris has nothing on my mom!
Back to what I was saying…
All that to say, I had a feeling I knew what my mother was going to say when she said she had something to tell me. It’s one of those things you hope you never hear but as the child of a cancer survivor you prepare yourself for the day that you might get the call that tells you, “it’s back.”
I kept my cool and asked all the right questions, but inside was another story. That night I had so many words for God, like “Really?! Seriously?! You couldn’t have uncovered this sooner! You had to wait until right after I move across the country and basically start a new life!!!? Great timing! What the heck God!” There may have been more words that will stay between him and I but needless to say I was way less then alright with what had developed and that night my God took quiet a bit of verbal abuse. Thankfully, I know he loves me and I am, despite the tantrum, crazy about my God.
She had her mammogram and ultra-sound while I was at youth camp and the doctors thought that the images looked hopeful and not cancerous. But they wanted to do a biopsy to be safe. Last Monday, July 16th she got the results and called me with the report that the lump she found was indeed cancer. It was my day off and the house was full, so I took off for a run to be alone, to process, and blow off some steam. I was fine until the end of my run and I slowly began to unravel, once I got home Jess called to go over some plans for the evening, and over the phone I spilled the beans and lost my composure (Not one of my finer moments! I’m not great at vulnerability).
The next day my mom met with a surgeon and they scheduled a mastectomy for the following Monday. I began frantically looking and praying for a way to get home. But nothing seemed to be panning out. Until Friday morning when I got a call from a woman that I work with, her and her husband wanted to take care of a round-trip ticket to get me home for two weeks to care for my mom after this procedure. I’m forever indebted to this amazing couple.
So here’s where the crazy begins. Sunday morning I flew from Columbus to Denver, Denver to Boise. On the first stretch of the trip my ticket was bumped to first class! I thought, “Wow, awesome! This is something that is not likely to happen again!” As we were descending to the Denver airport an elderly gentleman sitting diagonally behind me lost consciousness. By the time we got to the terminal the man had stopped breathing and his pulse was extremely weak. Once we land a gentlemen next to me, an EMT and myself helped to get this man and his wife off the plane and into an area where he could be resuscitated. I felt so helpless, all I could think to do was pray like crazy, stand with this man’s wife and remain calm. They took him by ambulance to the hospital and from there I have no idea what else took place.
Monday morning my Mom, Dad and I headed to the hospital for the big day. I was stoked to find out that the new hospital houses the smallest Starbucks I’ve ever had the pleasure of finding. I was even more excited due to the fact that I had a lack-of-caffeine head ache, or so I thought. However after downing three-forth’s a venti Americano the pain had not subsided. My Dad found me some pain meds and I took them with the remainder of my coffee. Fifteen minutes later the pain had dulled by I was now dizzy, light-headed, and sensitive to light. An hour and a half after that the symptoms had only intensified, and the doctor came out to tell us that my mom was now resting in the recovery room and that all had gone well. As he walked away I placed my head in my hands and thanked God that all had gone well, and threw in, that relief from my headache would be wonderful. I noticed that a family waiting for their grandmother to get out of surgery were leaving when someone grabbed my shoulder. It was the woman’s grand-daughter. She asked me if I was alright. Concerned that I was grieving, I assured her that I was fine and that I was just suffering from a really bad migraine. She then asked if she could touch me and began massaging my neck. Turns out that she’s a massage therapist. She worked on me and stretched out my neck for 15 minutes while her family waited for her outside. I thanked her, we exchanged hugs, she told me to drink lots of water and sternly advised me that I should see a massage therapist because I am covered in knots. And she was gone.
Yesterday, I spent most of the day curled up next to my mom with my hands over my face attempting to rest. I was miserable. The migraine went from bad to worst, I couldn’t eat, or rest and I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it down stairs to the car without passing out. I’ve never had a migraine compared to that, and all the while all I can think is “Really, after all that my mom’s gone through today, I’m whining about a headache?!” Once I was finally home, my poor brother watched after me, and I finally got some sleep.
Tonight, I’m spending the night with my mom, she took 3 walks and accomplished all her goals for the day. She’s scheduled to be released tomorrow morning. Besides the expected aches and pains she’s doing great. She’s a freaking trooper. She actually asked her doctor today if she could go back to work in a week and a half! Tough as nails and stubborn as a mule, that’s my mom. You would never guess that she just had cancer removed from her body for the second time or an entire appendage removed.
Pray that she continues healing quickly, that the aches and pains subside. Pray against infection. We haven’t dealt with the emotional consequences of all that has taken place, so prayer for that as we travel down this road. Pray that the doctors successfully removed all the cancer and that chemo won’t be necessary.
I want to say a big Thank You to a list of people: the folks at Heritage and Woodstone (My mom loves you all!), The family of Church on a Mission, Pastor Paul and Chris Jordan, Papa Vern and Betty Thieman, Caitlyn and Dan McCoy, Devry Neild, the families of Downtown Chapel and New Life Family Center, Pastor’s Mike and Laurie and Pastor’s Jeff and Jess. To my personal prayer warriors Jessica L., Justine and Cyndi, Rachael, and Sharolin, the Hope Center Staff and countless others. For all those who have called and sent messages. Biggest of all thank you’s Dr. David McClusky and supporting hospital staff, and Robert and Melissa Fuson. We love you all so much.