Have you spent any time contemplating what your family, friends and the world will remember about you after you leave this life? I had that opportunity in the fall of 2005. I had been dealing with some annoying symptoms for several months when I finally wised up and got them checked out.
After performing a standard biopsy, a two week follow-up appointment was scheduled to discuss what was expected to be, benign results. Four days later; however, I received an urgent call from a staff nurse advising the appointment needed to be moved to that afternoon. “Will you be bringing your husband?” she inquired before ending the call. “Well that doesn’t sound very good” I responded with a nervous laugh.
Three hours later, I drove the familiar route to the North Raleigh medical park. My husband and I were promptly ushered to an exam room where we anxiously awaited an explanation for this urgent appointment. Moments later, my doctor entered the room donned in her typical white coat and serious expression, took a seat and wasted no time getting to the point “You have well differentiated adenocarcinoma.” Whoa… I had no idea what that meant. I guess the bewildered look on my face gave it away because clarification quickly followed her initial pronouncement, “You have cancer.” Well, I certainly understood those three words! A wave of shock swept over my entire being; I struggled to maintain composure as a team of nurses sprung into action scheduling more appointments for MRIs, CAT Scans and mammograms.
I went home that afternoon still in shock, not knowing what to think or feel. That evening I stretched across my bed and prayed to God for strength and wisdom. I did not yet know if the cancer had spread, what stage it was in or whether I would live or die. What I knew for certain was my desire to leave a legacy of value for my children. Oh sure, I could leave treasured heirlooms and insurance money to pay for college, but I wanted to leave something indestructible that would never break or run out. Something like…a strong faith, and a solid attitude of trust. In that moment, I decided I would not be angry with God, after all- God did not give me cancer! And I refused to take the attitude “why me?” as if to imply I didn’t deserve it and someone else should have this disease.
After surgery and six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation, I was pronounced cancer free. Although cancer doesn’t define who I am, it did change me because I walked through the valley of the shadow of death. My body forever bears scars from the scalpel and I still have ink marks on my abdomen to remind me of radiation. More importantly, I am a survivor of a disease that claims millions of lives each year! I grew closer to the Lord and I learned a vital truth: the same God of the mountain top is the same God of the valley! In the end, God rescued me from the grave and breathed new life into my lungs. I have been given a second chance so, “why not me?”