Rarely do I sit and stare at a blank screen. Rarely do words escape me for hours on end. And rarely...is that a good thing.
I cried in public today. I cried at my work. I cried at my Optimist Club meeting. I cried on the phone to my mom, to my sister, to my friends. I cried in my car. Four times.
I didn't sleep last night. I was too anxious. I was too nervous. I was awaiting results of PET Scans. Results that had the power to break me. Mentally and emotionally...just break me. I know I wasn't alone in those feelings. I stayed up til late in the night pouring my heart out to a close friend and I know that the pain was there for the both of us.
What can I say that I haven't already? The support that she has been show is beyond words. It's the testament to who she is and what she stands for. I look back over my first blog about her story and I am just torn apart.
Cancer. Cancer in her spine. Cancer in her lungs. Cancer in her liver. Cancer everywhere. Where is one's hope supposed to come from when you read that? I see these pictures of her, I read her texts, I read her Facebook, I talk to her, I eat lunch with her, I take her to chemo and I listen. I listen to her talk and in the past 10 weeks, I have not one time heard her admit defeat. I have not one time heard her want to retreat, throw in the towel, or say "Enough."
She has every right to say anything she wants to. She has every right to scream. To cry. To lash out in a fit of rage and devastation. Yet...she does not. She stands. She commands. She fights.
She always tells me that I am a lion. She says that I come in roaring and people don't know how to take that. She "claims" I have some kind of kitten on the inside, though, and that I just don't let people see that. (And just for the record, she's lying.) Here's the thing, though. If I am a lion, she's a Warrior. The fight that she has put up the last few months has been nothing short of amazing.
When you are tired to the point of seizures and passing out..you are a Warrior. When you spend days of your week sick in a bathroom and you come out with a smile on your face...you are a Warrior. When you choke down chalky disgusting drinks and tell me it's a vanilla smoothie...you are a Warrior. When you spend an entire day on your feet so you can go with your child on her field trip (to the zoo, I might add) the day after your chemo treatment...you are a Warrior. When you stand up in front of hundreds of people and give a speech about all that you have gone through, and you barely shed a tear...you are a Warrior.
When you are told you have cancer in your spine, cancer in your lungs, cancer in your liver, and your response is "I will fight until I have no fight"...you are a warrior.
I may be a lion, but I am no warrior. I am no Karen Lamb.
I got her phone call at 11:21AM, today. When I answered and she was laughing, I thought 2 things. Either she had good news for me, or the worst had happened and she had finally lost her mind. ;)
Fortunately, God is still on his throne and it was the prize behind door number one.
Cancer in the spine: Gone.
Cancer in the lungs: Gone.
Cancer in the liver: Still abnormal and will still be treating it as cancer. (For the record, though, the radiologist never even called it cancer today.)
Just for my own need, I'm gonna type it again. Cancer in the spine and lungs...Gone. As in, not there. No sign. Anywhere.
Now, we can debate all day on how that is possible. We can call it modern medicine. We can call it the asparagus. We can call it anything you want to call it, but I'll tell you what it is. That is nothing short of a miracle. That is nothing but God's hand on this whole entire situation. That is nothing but the power of prayer. That is nothing but Jesus Christ saying to us, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."
"In my distress, I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me." - Psalm 120:1
I cried today. I cried out loud. In fact, I sobbed. In public. And they were giant, overwhelming tears of joy.
We all get bad news.
The dress we wanted doesn't come in our size. The transmission has gone out on the car. The place we were going to have our party at has flooded. You're having twins. (Ha.)
The list goes on and on and on.
These things annoy us. They cause us to get angry, or panic, or stress over finances we may not have, but they don't hit us at the heart. Well, finding out there are two babies coming instead of one will definitely hit you somewhere.
Sometimes, though, we get news that rocks our core. Shakes our hearts. Hits us so hard that we actually stop breathing.
We never forget those days, moments, minutes when we receive news like that. They stay with us. Good or bad, happy or sad, they stay with us.
I will never forget the day that one of my closest friends, Karen, (mother to my sassy little Goddaughter ;)) called to tell me bad news. It's been about 5 years ago now. I was driving on Main Street, passing the Casey's just a few blocks from my house when the actual words escaped her lips. Breast Cancer.
She was living in Oregon at the time, which felt like half a world away. I listened to her fill me in on the details. I listened, but I don't know that I heard. It felt like a slow motion conversation and when all was finished and all of my thousand questions had been answered, she said, "I'm gonna let you go so that you can cry now."
Karen knows me well. She knows that I will be a rock for as long as I have to be a rock. I will be the face of stone, the heart of stone, and the pillar of whatever I need to be the pillar of while I am in front of the class. She knows that in a group setting, I will be the one who has to stay strong. Not because I want to, or because I don't care, but because I just feel like that's my job. But, she knows that when our fingers have pressed "END" and she has no chance of hearing me choke out a sob, that I will break. It's probably the thing I love the most about her, though. I love that she knows I need to break down, and that she knows I need to do it alone. And above all of that, that this is HER pain and HER story that I'm breaking over, yet she let's me break alone anyway. I love that so much about her.
I can't recall a lot of details from that conversation, but I remember her saying "I am gonna beat this."
And beat it, she did.
She whipped that cancer like it was standing still. And she did it stronger and braver than anyone I know. I never heard her cry about it. I never heard her complain about it. I never heard her talk like she was a victim, a loser, or defeated. Because, she simply wasn't.
In no time at all, she was cancer free. And soon, they were back in Sedalia. I have gotten to enjoy her for the last couple of years. Not as much as I should have. Not as much as I would've liked. But, one of my favorite things about our friendship is the fact that we both know we are both tremendously busy people. We know we can't be with each other 24/7. But, we make it to the important things. And, if weeks pass by and we don't talk, it doesn't matter. I don't fret or worry that something has happened or that I am loved any less. We simply pick it right back up.
But, like many big companies do, her husbands job relocated, again. This time to the windy city! I do love Chicago, but I hated to see them go. So, a couple months ago, they packed up and headed out. It's totally sucked. I have missed her so much and, of course, my sassy little Goddaughter, too.
So, like any good Facebook creeper does, I made sure to "Follow" her. I don't want to miss anything. People tend to get lost on my thread. I couldn't let that happen. Recently, I had seen her ask for prayer. Urgent prayer......with no other details. Of course, when you know her history, your mind goes to awful places. And like I would do with any good friend, I said, "What the crap?" I sent this via text pretty late one night. And when she said she couldn't talk about the details, I cried myself to sleep. I just knew that something bad had happened. And I knew it was cancer.
The next day, though, she called to let me know what was really going on. It had nothing at all to do with cancer. It was still a stressful situation, but it didn't rock my core, ya know. She said, she was sorry that she had led me to think about the cancer. She said, "My back has been hurting, though, so I'm gonna get that checked out next week. The oncologist wants to do some scans just to make sure all is well, given my history." She thought she had pulled a muscle. Or had scar tissue from previous surgery. I felt better and kind of ridiculous for crying the night before.
Her scans showed a mass on her spine. And a couple days later she had and MRI and yesterday, the PET scan.
Karen has Cancer. Again.
I've gotta say after I typed that last sentence, my cursor just sat there blinking at me for a long time. What do you say? Not a lot.
I listened to her and her husband tell me the details via phone. And I listened to the plan of attack. I listened to her rattle off game plans, numbers, and thoughts. I listened to the best case scenario, and I listened to the worst. (Tomorrow will tell us if it's in her liver, too.)
I did not hear her cry. I did not hear her choke up. I did not hear her say, "Why me? Why again?"
Instead, I heard, "It's going to be a long road, but we are going to fight this."
So, in my usual fashion, I pressed that red "END" button and I stopped breathing. For just a second, I stopped breathing. I let tears fall down, and I let air escape me. I guess you emotionally normal people would call it sobbing. ;)
And then, I thought about Karen. I thought, 'My gosh! We are talking about KAREN! Karen will not be sitting there sobbing. Karen will SUCK IT UP! And Karen will fight.'
So, good, bad or ugly, she's coming for you! The saying shouldn't be, "Fight like a Girl." The saying should be, "Fight like a MOM!" Because, she's fighting. She is gonna fight like she has 3 kids and a husband that need her. And she isn't going to stop.
But, she needs our help. She needs a wee bit of prayers. OK, so A LOT of prayers. She needs the scan tomorrow to show that this cancer isn't in her liver. We need a small victory in that. And, for whatever reason that it is hardwired into my brain, I feel like I must stand up and fix things! Can I cure cancer? No. Can I even get my own blood drawn without calling my dad crying at the age of almost 30? I refuse to answer that question....
BUT! I have a lot of friends and acquaintances, especially on social media. My mom says it's ridiculous... until she needs something. And, I have a blog. And I feel like I can use it for good. I feel like if no one else ever reads another thing I write, that's fine. Just read this. Read it. Pray. Share it. Pray. Talk about it. Pray. Tell your friends. Pray. Tell your church. Pray. And when that's all over, do it again.
She's a mom to 3. She's a wife. She's a daughter. She's a sister. She's a friend. She's MY BEST friend. She's a child of God.
And she's much too young to be going through all of this. Again.
So Read. Share. Pray. Repeat.
"God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved."- Psalms 46:5
Whitney B. Cromley
Follower of Jesus.