I should be freaking out right now.
I’m receiving a cocktail of poison otherwise known as chemotherapy pumped into my veins every three weeks. I get bloodwork every week to see if the chemo drugs are effective. This has taken center stage in my life since the recurrence of stage four ovarian cancer.
My bloodwork from a few days ago didn’t look so good. Not only are the drugs taking a toll on my immune system which is extremely compromised, but it also shows a rise in a protein cancer antigen. These numbers aren’t supposed to rise but go down.
But as I said, I’m not freaking out. Instead, I have inexplicable peace. No, I’m not delusional from all the drugs! And I’m well aware of the statistics and science of this nefarious disease. Although I have had many anxious moments and some dark days, Jesus has lifted me out of the pit. I’ve learned that He truly will never leave me. So, rather than accept it as fact when I hear that my life has an expiration date that is most likely drawing near, I choose to trust Jesus.
And with trust in Jesus, peace always follows.
Any wise shopper knows to check the expiration date when buying perishable items.
We want the freshest, yummiest food and we want it to last as long as possible. Because of this, (and greed) manufacturers have concocted additives that can prolong the so-called shelf life.
Most of us are familiar with the urban legend about a Twinkie containing so many preservatives that it would last for decades! Frankin Twinkie. Yikes!
But for all of our efforts, living things eventually expire. We are all perishable items. Even though you and I know we will eventually die, it’s not something we like to dwell upon.
Imagine hearing the dreaded words, “Your cancer is back.”
For me, my doctor’s sympathetic voice faded into the background. The world seemed to stop rotating on its axis. Everyone and everything was frozen in place like manakins. I became hyper-aware of my every heartbeat and every breath. Thump, thump. Whoosh. Thump, thump. Woosh.
Thrust into an unwanted episode of The Twilight Zone, I imagined myself frantically running until I was out of breath. Then I looked up and saw myself in a mirror. And there it was . . .numbers stamped across my chest like a prison photo . . .
I leaned in, but I couldn’t focus. The darn thing was all fuzzy and smudged. Unreadable!
It was then, I cried out to the Lord God Almighty.
“No one knows their expiration date but YOU, God!”
Nothing had changed, God is still a good God. I still had an amazing family and friends. And my mission was still the same as before cancer: To bring honor and glory to God with whatever gifts and time He has given me.
But I had no idea what I was in for. Yeah, I’d already gone through so much with the first diagnosis—fluid being drained from my lungs and abdomen every week, surgery, chemo, and all the side effects. With God’s help, I did it once, so I could do it again.
Oh, my goodness. I didn’t realize that chemotherapy drugs are cumulative. Meaning it gets harder with each session! I wish I could say that I have held tight to Jesus and never wavered in my faith. But you guys, my faith seemed to grow smaller with each round of chemotherapy and all the horrid side effects. It was brutal. The devil was looming—taunting me with threats of death, and accusing me of having no faith.
But God . . .
On those days right after chemo when I was most vulnerable and my mind was clouded by drugs, and I could not even sit up—His precious Spirit whispered promises to me. When I was wrestling with emotions that were all over the place and feeling like a sniffling, weak baby—I was reminded over and over of His goodness, grace, and love.
Contrary to what I’d always believed, God was not expecting me to be strong and courageous at this point.
No, He wanted me to be still and know He is God.
To be held. To be comforted. To experience Him in ways I never had before.
God was teaching me that troubles are indeed an opportunity for great joy and growth (James 1:2) because I was learning more about His amazing character and how to combat the enemy’s voice. More about that in another post.
I don’t need to inform you that no one escapes difficulty and trials while on this earthly plane. Please hear me when I say, cancer is terrible, yet I know it is only a drop in the bucket compared to all of the suffering happening worldwide. I’m certainly not an expert. For now, I’d like to leave you with a nugget of gold that has come through the fiery trial of cancer.
When the storm clouds blot out the sun and dump showers of hardship, I encourage you to pause and take a moment to draw a deep breath.
The Lord gave me an acronym: AIR
- A—accept the emotion. Allow yourself to feel the feels. Don’t ignore it, stuff it, tough it out, or even slap a Scripture on it. The Bible is powerful, but we must first acknowledge and accept the emotion.
- I—invite God into what you are feeling and/or believing about Him, yourself, and the situation. Close your eyes and breathe three deep breaths through your nose. Be still. Visualize Jesus sitting with you in the emotion.
- R—release your emotion and circumstance to Jesus. I often personalize Philippians 4:5-6 in a prayer. God, You say not to be anxious about anything, yet I’ve been anxious about ____. Thank you that You understand, and for being a good God. As I release this situation into Your care, I look forward to and receive the peace that will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
And last but not least, reach out to others to pray with and for you!
At this point, I still don’t know if I have yet a few more rounds of chemotherapy. I will have a PET scan on July 27. My doctor is taking my case before a board of doctors to see what’s best. At first, I was frantic about all of this. The thought of more chemo literally gave me a panic attack. I have never experienced anything like it and hope I never do again! When I felt like a wave was going to pull me under, my husband, Scott, began to pray aloud over me. And guess what?
ALL the anxiousness disappeared!
I reached out to friends and family to pray also. The prayers of the righteous are powerful! (James 5:16) And I’m happy to report that I am feeling soooo much better. I am stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually. I even went for a walk and baked a cake for my son-in-law’s birthday today.
So, I will wait patiently on the Lord, trusting His perfect timing and will (Psalm 130:5; Micah 7:7). I will live each day with joy and purpose, counting my numerous blessings! I won’t borrow tomorrow’s troubles today (Matthew 6:34).
For we all have an expiration date awaiting us.
Whether or not you believe in God, we will all face Him when we die (Hebrews 9:27-28).
It is my greatest desire to stand before Jesus with every ounce of any gift, talent, and energy that He gave me, all used up in service for Him (Mathew 25:23).
Until then . . .
“This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!” (Psalm 118:24)
I will be in touch soon!
Much love in Christ Jesus,
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left but could say I’ve used everything you gave me.” Erma Bombeck
P.S. It would be my great joy to pray for you. So, either comment below or feel free to reach out via email. And thank you from the bottom of my heart for all who have prayed for me!