The Suburb Woman
Roots Grow Deep
Posted on June 7th, 2014

The cry was heartbreaking. I could tell the child was the same age as my son. He was pleading with his mother to make the hurt stop. I couldn’t see them from the waiting room, but I couldn’t stop my tears.  I whispered a prayer for the mother and the boy.

Then, I heard Mike’s voice. He told the boy he bet he was the same age as his son. “Yes,” the boy whimpered. I heard Mike ask, “Where are you from?” The mother answered, “San Antonio.”  Mike laughed and said, “You have a good basketball team – the Spurs! They beat my team in Oklahoma City, but I hope the Spurs keep winning for you!” I imagined the boy smiling and nodding his head. The crying stopped.

I smiled.  Soon, Mike was in the doorway motioning to me to come toward him. His expression was a mixture of emotions.  He wanted to quickly tell me about the boy – Tony – before Mike went back for his MRI. “He’s eight and he was scared to death. He had surgery only a month ago,” he said.“Just broke my heart. I’m so glad it’s me going through this and not you or one of our kids.”

It’s been a long four weeks. We’ve tried not to focus on “what if.” With cancer in general there are more “what ifs” than one cares to contemplate. There have been plenty of moments when we were caught up in special times and feelings of normalcy. But, the thought of “what if this is the last time we experience ____” creeps in.

As I waited on Mike, knowing machines were capturing the images that would give us relief or cause us to recalculate the treatment plan I observed the souls around me. Each is at various stages of their journey –patients and caregivers… There is a man sitting with his wife and their young child who is bald. I see a mother resting with a scarf wrapped around her head, a blanket over her legs, and a grown daughter holding her hand.  There is a retired gentleman, dressed as if he might be going to his office, reading a book while a designer handbag rests on his lap.  Tony’s parents appear as terrified as he sounds, holding hands. I pray for them. If our eyes meet, I smile.

The MRI is a stark reminder of what we’re fighting.  Even though there is chemotherapy for five days, blood checks and a doctor visit every month – the trip to Houston, to MD Anderson, for the MRI is different. 

A friend posted Colossians 2:7 on his social media page this past month with the statement, “The roots of a tree grow the most and the deepest in winter – a time of struggle and hardship.”  How true that is and how different we are and I am today. 

This is how each of the past eight months has felt:
October – a runaway train.
November – smoldering wreckage.
December – lonely and cold.
January – a “spiritual awakening.”
February – finding strength.
March –  new beginnings.
April – feeling hopeful. 
May – reality check, but more resolve.

Eight months ago when I waited on Mike during his first MRIs, I couldn’t write. I couldn’t talk. I sat quietly alone, wiping tears. I sounded on the inside much like Tony expressed on the outside… “Dear God, Please make it stop.”

It hasn’t been easy getting here, but maybe that is an important part of the journey. There were days, weeks actually, where we could only focus on an hour at a time.  We’re truly learning what it means to be “a family,” even if our family is a combination of blood relatives and ones we've chosen.  

The next morning as we waited for Dr. Mark Gilbert (our neurological oncologist at MD Anderson) to deliver the results of the MRI, I can hear what sounds like a heart monitor, quietly reminding us what we should be doing … living.  Mike and I agree no matter what the results are we will keep fighting and living. Did I also mention it was my birthday? Good news was the only gift I wanted.

Soon, the door opens and uncharacteristically it's Dr.Gilbert who enters instead of one of his nurses or a resident.  He smiles and exclaims, “Your scan is great! The best it’s been since surgery!” Instead of waiting for me to confirm this is good news as has been our routine at previous appointments, Mike jumps to his feet and says, “Are you serious??” And Dr. Gilbert and Mike high five just like teammates who now hold the winning score.

I have to believe it’s moments like that which keeps medical staff who work in Oncology going every day. As we departed, Dr. Gilbert waves “see you in eight weeks – have a great summer!” We’re definitely planning on it.

Jesus Calling

Welcome challenging times as opportunities to trust Me. You have Me beside you and My Spirit within you, so no set of circumstances is too much for you to handle. When the path before you is dotted with difficulties, beware of measuring your strength against those challenges. That calculation is certain to riddle you with anxiety. Without Me, you wouldn’t make it past the first hurdle!

The way to walk through demanding days is to grip My hand tightly and stay in close communication with Me. Let your thoughts and spoken words be richly flavored with trust and thankfulness. Regardless of the day’s problems, I can keep you in perfect Peace as you stay close to Me.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds. –James 1:2


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