Interruptions come in many forms…an unexpected phone call, a neighbor dropping in, the panicked cry of “Mom!” from the next room. Welcomed or not, interruptions have a way of making you stop what you were doing and focus entirely on something else.
My interruption came with one word…cancer. In the summer of 2010, I noticed a lump on the back of my thigh. I originally dismissed it as a knot in my muscle, but no amount of stretching or massaging would make it relax. A few months it seemed larger, and I decided to have it checked out.
Multiple doctor visits and an MRI later, I was scheduled for surgery to remove a six-inch tumor removed from my leg. The biopsy revealed a fairly uncommon, aggressive form of cancer.
I’ve had friends and relatives who have battled cancer, and my heart has always gone out to them. But it is an entirely different feeling to hear the word “cancer” related to your own body. There were weeks of waiting before we had answers to all our questions, and those days were filled with emotional highs and lows and lots and lots of prayer.
During that time, things that previously seemed so “urgent” were no longer on my radar. It didn’t matter to me whether the laundry was folded, the kids got to bed on time, or I found the best deal on a box of cereal. What mattered most was soaking up every moment with my kids, re-connecting with family and friends, and making sure everyone in my life knew how much I loved them.
The doctors were able to remove the entire tumor and pronounced me “cancer-free” three short weeks after surgery. I had radiation therapy for a few weeks to lower the risk of the cancer returning and did physical therapy to regain strength and flexibility in my leg.
Life began to return to normal. Family went home. Doctor’s appointments grew fewer and farther between. My strength and energy increased. Life began to look like it once did.
Then, on a routine follow-up scan a few weeks ago something “suspicious” showed up. Again, the myriad of doctor visits and scans began. The good news is, it’s very small (only 1/2-inch in diameter). The bad news is, it’s so small they aren’t confident they can locate it with a needle for a biopsy.
So, next Tuesday, I will go in for another surgery. To remove another mass. And wait on another biopsy.
The thing about having cancer is, even once you’re “cancer-free,” there’s always the risk (and the fear) that it will return. Before I had cancer, I didn’t really worry about getting cancer. But once you’ve faced it, there’s the lingering fear that you’ll have to do it again.
While my trust and confidence in God is strong, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little afraid. It was a very difficult time for us when we walked this journey a couple of years ago. The idea of doing it all again is not exactly appealing.
But I know God is in control. I know He has a plan, and I am standing on what I know to be true, not on what I feel to be real.
I also don’t want to forget what I learned the first time around. I must admit, two years removed from the first tumor, I’ve begun to get caught up again in the details of day-to-day living and have, at times, lost sight of what’s truly important. I need to remember to drink in the laughter of my children, make time for family and friends, and tell those in my life how much they mean to me. Of course the laundry still has to be washed and groceries still need to be bought, but I’m hoping that I can remember to keep those things in perspective, even when life returns to normal…again.