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Saturday, December 9, 2017

How to React when it’s Really not Cancer

It’s Advent, y’all… that time of year when I have come to realize I love waiting for everything except test results.  After two years of anxiety and panic attacks, sprinkled with CT scan radiation and a little bit of insanity; what I would like is a definitive note that reads, “This is definitely not cancer, it never has been, it never will be, thanks for playing along, as a parting gift you will never, ever die.” 

Here’s what I got instead: “Left lower lobe nodule has demonstrated stability for 24 months and is likely a benign abnormality.” 

Close enough.  I can live with that.  Literally.  Hopefully for a very long time.

If you’re just tuning in to my life, you might want to start with the post I made here: Perpetual Crisis Averted, about 16 months ago.  I should have read this post earlier in the week, because the mounting stress of having to go through the final follow-up scan left me unable to remember that there were some high points during this journey.  I’m glad I read it today, though.  I also want to direct you to another post I reference, found here: If I Die First, because you should know that I still think it’s an excellent idea to give your spouse very detailed instructions about what to do if you die first.  I might, however, make some tweaks, given the opportunity (In fact, I would have to, because my first choice for my children’s stepmother is no longer available…  I’m not taking applications…  Don’t send applications!).

In all seriousness, I do want to say something meaningful about these two years of suffering (and that’s exactly what they’ve been, no hyperbole).  I don’t think they were necessary.  What I mean by this is that I don’t think God wanted this to happen, nor do I think God needed this to happen in order to bring about some greater good.  What I do think is that God can use everything… even crap like this… and God has done so, as I have listened to God’s persuasive voice in my life, even when I couldn’t listen to much of anything at all.

I am not glad that I went through this!  I am glad that I am a different person than I was at the onset.  I think there might have been better ways to get there, but whatever…  I’m there.  This is not to be confused with, “I’ve arrived.” 

No, friends, it’s more like, “I am where I am,” and where I am is good… for today…

I am more brave.  (I know it’s really “braver,” but it’s one of those days when I feel like I can write what I want…)

I am willing to take more risks.  (Disclaimer: greater risk usually equals greater reward, although it can also equal greater disaster.) 

I am less concerned about what other people think of me and more concerned about other people, in general.

I fully recognize that if I have a goal or a dream, I had better start chasing it right now, because even if I have inherited the genetic make-up of the women on my dad’s side of the family—a hundred years will never be enough.

I started using the hashtag #LessFearIn2016 in an attempt to do scary stuff, but I also started using it, because I thought I might not have too many more days to practice less fear.  I think I’ll modify it now to #LessFearForever, because none of us have enough time to be afraid.

And with all of that said, if you think I was a hypocrite, this week… you’re 100% right!  Because this week, I was terrified!  Will I forget I’m OK and have a panic attack now and then?  Probably.  Will I struggle to remember that I can let go of this now, because all is well?  Almost assuredly.  But another thing this experience gave me was a community of people who kept listening and kept praying and kept being present to me when I couldn’t live into everything I wanted to be in any given moment.  Gosh, I’m thankful for that, but next time let’s decide to be friends over ice cream and Disney and good books.  No more of this death and disaster drama, OK?

For me, this is a great note on which to end, as we transition from a week steeped in hope to one filled with peace.  Sorry that it’s kind of personal for this blog, but I know many of the readers here have been wondering if there would ever be an end to this chapter.  I don’t usually love endings, but this one is good.

Oh, the daily office…  How about a doxology from Jude 24-25:

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.


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