I would have been completely fine to never have had cancer as a chapter in my journey of life. I wish I could say I was fearless every step of the way, but that wouldn't be a true statement.
On Valentine's Day of 2012, I didn't feel right. Instead of going to work, I went to the doctor. She ordered a CT scan that showed a mass in my body. The next day I saw a specialist and three (3) days later was advised to have my first biopsy (on my Mom's birthday--Feb. 17th). Over the next month and a half, I had two more biopsies; each a little more invasive because the first two were inconclusive. I was later diagnosed with lymphoma.
Lymphoma is cancer of the lymph system (or lymphatic system), which is part of our immunity. It is characterized by the formation of solid tumors in the immune system. The cancer affects immune cells called lymphocytes, which are white blood cells. Despite the diagnosis, my then boyfriend Kevin lovingly proposed on April 21, 2012. Just 6 days later, I had my first round of chemo.
Between my 1st and 2nd rounds of chemo, I started to lose my hair, a little day by day until the chunks became bigger. I cried almost every morning the week when I was losing a lot of hair while I was getting ready for work. The day after my 2nd round of chemo, the rest of my hair came out. By that time, I had cried so much I was relieved I didn't have to deal with the daily devastation of my hair coming out. My last round of chemo was August 9, 2012. On September 8, 2012, Kevin and I got married. It was an awesome culmination of our journey as a couple and a celebration of life post-chemo.
We thought cancer was behind us and could finally move on with beginning our lives together until I discovered a mass on my chest on October 1, 2013. Tests through October and November confirmed a recurrence of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Honestly, it broke my spirit---not a position in which I had ever found myself and a position I was determined not to grow accustomed to. On the surface, this was about my physical being and health, but I was acutely aware of the spiritual battle being waged for my thoughts, my mind, and most especially, my faith. I read Ps. 61:1-2 so many times from so many translations:
Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
And He did. Through multiple rounds of chemo, hospital stays, doctor visits, and procedures, God has kept me as well as my amazing husband, Kevin! To have the peace we have had during this process and to keep our eyes focused on the unseen has been nothing but God. Truly, God has a grace for every place in which we find ourselves. AND His grace is always sufficient! I remember hearing Pastor Andy once say, "Strength comes when you're waiting on the strength to come." And this is so true. Many days my prayer was simply, "Strength for today." And He has always come through with a strength like no other!
Certainly, it wasn't what was in my plans, but I know God has a bigger plan and purpose that is working together for my good and far outweighs my temporary inconvenience. He will get the glory out of every single part of this story. This has been the ultimate in walking out my faith. Sure, my fight was about beating cancer and seeing the physical manifestation of my healing, but don't get it twisted--this was most assuredly a fight of faith.
When I received the report that I was cancer free, that was an awesome moment, but the fact that I stood firmly in my faith in God throughout the process was the real victory. True to His Word, He kept me in the midst of it all!