Last week when I meet with my doctor, I asked the question (mainly for my family’s sake) if I was in remission yet. I thought maybe Id have to wait till April when Herceptin was done. Ive been told that doctors are weary of saying to me that I have been “cured”. The idea being that if they “cured” me then, they have found a cure for cancer, right? So I was taken a back when my doctor answered my question about remission with “You were cured at the time of surgery.” Of course I asked why he used cure over remission. He can be a wise guy of a doctor and basically said he gets to say if Im cured or not, not me. Then I of course asked why he didnt tell me until now, and he said, you didnt ask. Fun times with my doctor, but needless to say, I do not have cancer in my body anymore! Which Jason has been saying for a while when I jokingly would like to use the ‘cancer card’ to not do silly things, “You USED to have cancer.” Remission, cure, used to, its all the same thing really.

At the start of this, I had said that getting cancer is quite an education. A lot of information is thrown at you, fast and all at once. And you have to make some big, hard decisions with that information. Im sure its because I have now experienced having cancer, but Im so much more aware of it now. When I hear the news someone I know has gotten cancer or a family member of theirs, I feel more equipped to reach out. Being a support with a knowing understanding cause I have been there. But also knowing that everyones cancer is different as well. I try to comfort them, because at the beginning its so scary because there is so much unknown. I sit here now, about 9 months from the scary days, wondering what I was so scared about. It was the unknown. Information really is power, so I hope I can give that to my friends who are walking through cancer.

All the while though, I still struggle with the in between feeling. I dont have cancer anymore, but I have to keep getting treatment. Its not really over yet. I dont like my hair, even though I am thankful its growing. I have beyond sweet friends who compliment my hair, which I need to hear since I dont really like it. Students who love rubbing it (and I welcome that) the baby soft hair and encourage me in how far I have come. I think a lot of times youth have been given the reputation of not knowing how to handle something sensitively. My students have been some of the most kind and loving people towards me during treatment. More than some adults in just how they reach out to me and care for me.

We’ve been doing a tough questions series at youth group and last week I was on a panel of adults and a student answering the question “Why does a loving God let bad things happen?”. I didnt want to be on the panel because I feel like I know all the answers now. I think God being loving and bad things are two different matters. Despite cancer and other sufferings in my life, God is still good and loving. It goes back to the gospel for me, that He took on all the pain and suffering of this messy, messy world to give me freedom to be in relationship with Him. That has not changed no matter how many questions I have for why He allows things to happen. I have no problem with being angry with God and yelling out to Him, because Im still pointing who I think is in control. And God is big enough and powerful enough to handle our hard questions. He loves me and wants a relationship, which, just like any relationship, isnt happy go lucky all the time. If we think God can not handle our questioning or anger, then we do not think God is very big or powerful.
One thing I learned a long time ago in youth ministry is that you never known what or when something you say will have an impact on a student. I hope my words and honesty of not having this question completely figured out brought them some comfort when suffering enters their life. That, it doesnt mean we have to be happy about things all the time, but to know God does not change, even in hard times. I feel like sometimes we think we have to put on a happy face because we have faith in a loving God. He created us with emotions, not to stuff them down and not grieve. We have them for a reason, to process and feel when pain and suffering enter our lives. And hopefully we are apart of communities of people who do not give us a quick time frame to move past the grieving process, because everyone responds differently and there is no “appropriate” time table for grieving. Like my family who lost a son, they expected to have their son always in their life. So for the rest of their lives, they will grieve and mourn that loss and that is okay. God wants to comfort them and grieve with them.

I’ll leave you all with some words a friend sent me that say all of this better than I:

“I believe God loves us. I believe He is all-good. I believe he is all-powerful. I cannot logically reconcile these things with the cancer and other sufferings. If the Christian faith is to mean anything, it has to make sense in some way when confronted by the worst of life. It’s easy to believe in God when things are going great. But your faith means very little if it cannot withstand cancer or another type of suffering.

I was thinking about this, standing right in front of the image of the crucified Christ, and then I noticed that I was looking at an image of an innocent man, tortured to death, a man who was the same God whose ways I question. A man who could have come down off that cross, but who stayed, because He wanted to share our pain to the end, to drain the dregs of the cup of suffering. So we could live.

I don’t understand this, and I never will. It’s an unfathomable mystery. But I believe it all the same, despite everything. This is hard. But what else is there?”

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Beautiful post. I’m so glad we get to be friends.

November 14, 2013 9:04 pm

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