My eyes skimmed over words from my mom that we knew were a possibility, but seriously hoped not to be ours to process:
“Biopsy result is showing breast cancer in tiny 6mm lump. It’s 1/4 of an inch. Specialist appointment on September 26. They will decide if they will keep an eye on it or remove it. Blood work is good and clear.”
When you’ve already lost one parent, it’s easy to want to hold on for dear life for the one you have left.
“God wouldn’t take them both, would He?” I desperately wanted to be able to reassure my sister by saying, “Of course He wouldn’t,” but you and I know we don’t control God. We simply have an invitation at every turn to trust Him.
In the 12 days of waiting that followed between diagnosis and specialist appointment, there were teary conversations, ugly cries, expressed fears and unanswered questions.
And there was something else— a promise the Lord kept bringing back to my mind from Isaiah 26:3— “You will keep in perfect peace He whose mind is steadfast, because He trusts in you.”
I want the positive outcome, but it’s not the place built to possess my trust. God’s invitation to me and to you, is to place our trust in Him, the presence and power of a person. And that person promises to do the work of keeping.
That word “keep” means to guard, preserve, keep from danger, watch, watch over, to be blockaded, a watchman. The mind is a battlefield. Without anyone standing guard over it, worry and fear relentlessly enter in and wreak havoc as they please. Unless you have a watchman.
What I’ve experienced God doing in my mind in this period of waiting is guarding my thoughts from becoming runaway trains of worst-case scenarios, and blockading dangerous fear from entering in and taking root. Based on this verse, it would seem that our decision to place trust in God is His invitation to do the hard work of keeping.
Our minds are protected as we actively trust the person, presence and power of God.
Like I said, I want a positive outcome. And I’m invited to ask God for one. He says in Scripture to ask for what we want given, to bring our burdens, and to believe His promises. I am asking Him for full healing from this cancer for my mom in Jesus’ name and I would love for you too as well.
But here’s what I’ve learned about waiting for positive outcomes to experience peace: it’s like standing on a rug that can be pulled out from under my feet at any moment. And life on the rug doesn’t feel much like life at all— it feels more like constantly bracing yourself for a painful, shattering, face plant. Having spent a great deal of time on rugs, I much prefer my feet on the Solid Rock— Jesus Christ. He is strong, steady, and cannot be pulled out from under me no matter what clouds roll in, no matter how hard the wind blows, how high the waters rise, or what the outcome is.
And He holds the power to heal cancer and fear.
The appointment on September 26 came and we all breathed a little easier as the doctor told us everything we wanted to hear: We caught it early. It’s slow-progressing. It’s treatable. We’ll do a lumpectomy followed by radiation. We’ll remove a lymph node to confirm that it hasn’t spread.
The doctor said she was booking into the end of October for surgery, so we were pleasantly surprised when my mom received this Friday October 11 for a surgery date. It will be a day surgery followed by a few weeks of rest and healing. Surgery will be followed up with 30 days of radiation. (Side effects are skin will possibly feel a bit sunburned and increasing fatigue as treatment wears on.) She will be off work for the next 2-3 months.
Many have asked how they can help:
Pray for health and physical healing: Pray for my mom, Kathy, to stay physically strong and healthy as she goes this morning for surgery prep. Pray for the cancer to be completely removed during surgery, and that it has not spread to any other part of her body. Pray for no infections or complications as she recovers and that her body will receive the radiation and kill any traces or possibilities of the cancer.
Pray for peace: As many of you know, my dad passed away just over 10 years ago from ALS. This makes diagnosis and disease that much more tender for all of us. My eldest sister Angela’s mother-in-law passed away from breast cancer just before my dad’s diagnosis in 2008. Several women in her community have passed away from breast cancer. All of these factors affect how this news is processed. Pray for peace for my mom. She is the strongest woman I know. Though she is well loved and well supported by family and friends, she is on this journey without my dad, which is still hard after all these years. Pray for her as she processes this for herself and remains strong for her family.
Pray for wisdom: Kathy has 10 grandchildren (age 3-13) who love her dearly. Pray for wisdom for us parents as we help them process this news in age-appropriate ways, and remind them of the promises of God. Angela’s kids received the news earlier this week. Christina and Frankie have chosen to limit what information they share with their kids, so if you’re in contact with their children, please don’t discuss details. And Mike and I will be deciding what and how to share with our own kids in the very near future.
Pray for provision: God knows every single one of our needs and we trust Him to provide as He always has. In the days to come we anticipate there will be some needs— meals, hospital parking during radiation, rides to and from radiation and/or fuel. As they arise, we will share them. Pray with us, trusting that God will supply every one of her needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
We are so grateful for the family of faith that walks with us, whether from near or far, lifts us up before the Father and showers us with God’s love and compassion. Thank you!