This past week I had my scheduled three month follow-up. I went in on Thursday for a CT of my chest, abdomen and pelvis. This was the first scan I had since completing my course of chemotherapy. Just a routine scan. Then on Friday, I went in to see Dr. Oh. Good news and bad news…. Good news is there was NO sign of metastasis or cancer in my body. The bad news is there is a small cyst that appears to be a dermoid cyst on my left (and only) ovary. Almost all (like 98%) of dermoid cysts are benign (not cancer). Unfortunately for me the first time around mine was in the 2% and cancerous. This time around my doctor feels very strongly this is not cancer, but these type of cysts do not go away on their own. So, I must have it removed. He is really hoping to preserve my ovary and just remove the cyst. But, we will only know that for sure once he gets in there. I am having an ultrasound in the morning to look better at the cyst. I will then go see Dr. Oh right after to discuss the sono and make a plan for surgery. It will likely be before then end of the year. The sooner the better. Well, honestly, this news hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve been here before. The chances are low it is cancer… The initial biopsy showed it is not cancer… Then, the phone call on July 9th that forever changed my life… I am sorry, it is cancer.
Thankfully I have actually been ok since Friday. In the days to weeks after that phone call in July, I was not good. I could barely get out of bed. I didn’t eat.. I didn’t sleep… I had to take medication just to be able to function. There was no peace… I was marked by fear. That’s only natural right? So how is this time around so different? Well, it’s no accident that over the last two weeks I have been going through a Matt Chandler study on the book of Philippians. I love the heart of this book. Paul wrote the book of Philippians to share with all of us how to live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus. One of the things I love in this book is that Paul speaks to us and tells us what the most important thing is for each of us in our walk with Jesus. To know Him.
“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings” Philippians 3:10
We are broken people… Paul tells us that the right way to struggle is to allow Jesus to break the power of sin in our lives… and to chase after Him. So over the last six months, that is what I have done. Oh to know Him… to learn more about his true character… to receive the grace he has given me. The Lord has been there with me every single step of the way. He has been so very patient with me too… I am quite stubborn, even with good intentions. When bad things happen, we have a choice. We all run… but will we run TO him or FROM him. Over these last few months, the Lord has broken down many of the lies I have believed. The Lord has placed so godly women in my life that continually point me to Him… to help me pursue Him and grow deeper in my relationship with him.
It is no accident that my study yesterday and today was in the 4th chapter of Philippians. In this chapter, Paul tells us that we are to “rejoice in the Lord always” (verse 4); this means to give praise and thanks in any situation... whether it be good or bad. When you have cancer. When you lose a loved one. When you lose your job. When you cannot get pregnant.
“Look, the highest heavens and the earth and everything in it all belong to the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 10:14
There is no circumstance in my life or any cell in my body that the Lord is not in control of. If I truly believe this scripture then why in the world would I waste any time worrying about it? God is good… He is near me... He was there when I got that phone call and he was there when I got this news on Friday. He is not surprised. He is with me. In this truth, I will rest. I can change NOTHING by worrying about all the possibilities. Even now, I can think of all the things that could’ve gone wrong the first time around. The cancerous cyst was 10 times the size of mine now. It could’ve ruptured, it could’ve caused twisting of my tube, it could’ve spread to other parts of my body. Yet none of that happened. God is in control. I have seen His faithfulness over the last few months as my goal has been to know Him more. In chapter 4 of the book of Philippians Paul gives us the secret of what I need to do in the waiting… in the trials.. in the suffering… I must pray. It’s when I surrender it all to the Lord and tell Him all that I need. It’s when I focus on truth and rebuke any lies that the enemy would have me to believe. In that place, my soul is flooded with the peace that surpasses all our understanding.
June 29th … June 30th … July 9th … July 27th
These are all dates that will forever be imprinted in my mind. These are the days that God became real to me. These are days when I have never felt so scared in my life, yet the days I have never felt Him so near.
7So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,a a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
It is natural for me to worry about things. This is my weakness for sure. Without my weaknesses, my tendencies to worry and attempts to control a situation, I wouldn’t need God. This is my reminder of how much I do need Him. My thorn in the flesh. As I am learning more and more about His true nature and character, I learn to rest in Him and the very promises He gives us in His word. In that very place, I will walk in peace in the days ahead. I will continue to pray that the Lord would heal me. I will not give the enemy any room in my heart to ruin what is good. I will not give the enemy any pleasure by focusing on the “what-ifs”. Sadly I always have to be on my toes…. I can never let my guard down because then that gives the enemy room to work.
So now heading into tomorrow and surgery at some point, likely in the next week, how will I get through the days leading up? I have something I didn’t on June 29th. I KNOW the Lord on a much deeper level. I am fixing my eyes and ears on what is true.. what is worthy… what is admirable.. what is pure. I am fixing my eyes on Jesus. I have peace that surpasses all my understanding. I have this peace because I have truly learned more about the nature of God. He is good. He is in and over all things. There is nothing about my life and my cancer that He doesn’t already know. So what could I possibly be anxious about? He has always been there with me… so I press into him during these times. I am not saying this is easy, but it’s a choice I have to make daily and even hourly. That’s how I have peace leading into these days ahead…. It’s because I know Him. I am loved. I am His.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many.” Genesis 50:20
If my struggle saves the life of one of you reading this today, if it brings one of you to know Jesus and His love… then it will have been worth every second. My pain will have had a purpose. By telling my story, my prayer is that others will find Hope in the One who controls every single detail of our lives. My prayer is that you would find the peace that Paul refers to… the peace that surpasses all understanding. I finally understand that I will never achieve perfection this side of heaven. But, I am making progress. As I continue to pursue Jesus, my fear is replaced with praise, my worry is replaced with prayer and my tears are replaced with joy. If God is for me, then who can be against me. I am amazed at how the Lord has opened my eyes over the last months. He is at work everywhere and in everything; we only see it if we are looking and slow down long enough to notice. I have been blown away at some of the things that have happened over the last week, that only are explainable by God. He is behind the scenes weaving together a beautiful story. All He is asking is for us to join in. To say “yes” to Him. One day I will understand it all. One day I will see the reason He called me to this journey. But until then I will keep walking in faith and resting in the only One who created me. Even the stupid dermoid cysts too. This one better have hair and teeth in it. In fact, I may even ask if we can save it so I can put it in a jar.
Jesus, I thank you that you love me enough to die for me. The gospel. While I was destined for death, you rescued me. You chose me and love me just the way I am. Because of you, I am made perfect. God looks at me and sees you. No matter what tomorrow may hold, I will trust in you. You will never change.
“I am the Lord, I do not change.” Malachai 3:6a
My Jesus, you are the same today that you were yesterday. You will be the same tomorrow as I walk in that hospital to have these tests run. Your grace is enough. Lord, I am asking you that tomorrow they would see no sign of any cyst on my ovary. Then Lord, you would be the only way to explain the miracle. If it is your will and the cyst is still there, the Lord I pray it is not cancer. I pray it can easily be taken out and tossed in the trash. I am asking you that all cancer would remain forever gone from my body. But, most of all Lord, I will trust that you will answer my prayers how you see fit. Lord, the hardest words to ever say is “May your will be done and not mine”. I will trust that you are for me and that you love me…. And that in every minute of my life you will be glorified…. No matter what. Every tear will be worth it all. Every single second of suffering will be momentary compared to the joy I have in you. Jesus, my eyes are on you.
** I highly recommend the Philippians series by Matt Chandler available on Right Now Media.