This past month has been rough, I am hearing one story after another about survivors coming out of remission. I belong to two cancer forums and it seems when the first domino toppled over the chain reaction began, one account after another account of recurring cancer. I am watching from the sideline shaking my head in bewilderment . . .
And this isn’t just happening in the forums, out of 12 women in my cancer support group, 5 are now fighting their second (or third or more) battle and 3 report changing numbers. This is devastating and I don’t know how to feel about this.
I have mixed reactions. I am so sorry for all of my fellow sojourners who are receiving the diagnose of relapse, this must be a punch to the gut knocking all the air out of them. My other reaction is I remain cancer free. I am cancer free and they are not, thus their fight begins again. Do I dare delight in and share my cancer free status? I am now separated from them because I do not understand nor can I empathize with what it is like to “have cancer again” and start treatment hoping that this will at best, get rid of the cancer for good or, at least, prolong their life.
The other night at my support group it felt like I was on a sinking ship. The conversation centered on anger. One woman was angry and by her “emoting” she seemed hopeless as well. Another was just angry. But as she shared with us her anger and why she was angry, I understood what she was saying. She was angry because, one, she is in relapse and has to go through an even more aggressive and life threatening treatment, and, two, she would not go through this if it was not for her daughter who is nearing adulthood. I loved how she put it, she’d get on her motorcycle and just go until it was over. But she knows she can’t do this.
In the 90 minutes we were together, I felt the mood change from gray, to dark to a big black hole sucking us in with no direction or resolve. I assume the women felt better having shared their thoughts and feelings with us, and rightly so, that is what our meeting is about. But I left so disjointed and burdened by this unrelenting cancer.
I tried to share with my group some of my experience surrounding conflicting emotions, the need to “be in control” and having none and my moments of despair. I was able to say some of this and as I was about to share how my peace came because of and through my faith, I was talked over. I felt a veil of heaviness overwhelm me. I believe I have a hope to share. My hope is something I don’t have to drum up in myself or find through some other means. My hope is in Christ and my gaze is on the promise of eternity. Maybe I wasn’t aggressive enough in being heard?
The conundrum I find myself in is I am cancer free and I am a Christian. I have chosen to remain in this world of cancer because I believe this is where God wants me. Not only did I have cancer but because of my diagnose, my identity and purpose was challenged. I was told I had cancer as one person and three years later, I came out on the other side as a different person. Amazingly, and only through God’s transforming power, my broken state was rebuilt, if you will. I felt like I broke into a thousand pieces wondering if I would ever be whole again. But by God’s divine plan there was a good work going on in me, a work that changed me to wholly depend on Him and to finally understand this elusive joy and peace that I was so often taught about at church. It is all of Him and nothing of myself so, honestly, I can not boast.
So this is my puzzle. I have good news and so many others have bad news. I am a Christian and many others are not. I have hope and others don’t. I am dependent upon God and others are angry at God. The Gospel story lives in me. What would God have me do? How can I share with others, tell others, about this Gospel who calls himself the Prince of Peace and our Comfort and Counselor? I know the direction and I have the answer . . . now God, please unlock my mouth!
part II to follow
Thank you to Flickr for
dominoes photo: Salvatore Galiotta, http://www.flickr.com/photos/totoslayer/3122812665/
lock photo: Luigi Rosa, http://www.flickr.com/photos/lrosa/4982333102/sizes/n/in/photostream/