Last week Wednesday, our life as we knew it tilted on its axis and changed forever. The word “Cancer” was now in our life. In a big way. My husband, Ryan, was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 38. We have 3 young children, ages 10 and under. We had great plans for our family’s future, starting next month when Ryan planned to return to school full-time to pursue his studies while he worked full-time. This decision had been made by us after a lot of discussion and prayer and we felt that it was the right timing for us.
But. God. He had other plans for our little family.
Right before our world changed, we went on a fabulous family vacation and had a wonderful time bonding like we never had before. All of our other prior family holidays had been with family or friends, but this was just us – just our little, beautiful family. We stayed at a pretty little spot along a private lake with amazing sunsets every night. The girls and Ryan tried their hands at fishing (even Noah was tutored a little), we did some canoeing and swimming, and (because we really don’t camp) had a hot tub to relax in in the evenings. Yeah, we were really roughing it. It was a beautiful time and we will always remember it.
When we returned home, Ryan had some aches and pains that should have been gone after all our relaxation time and decided he better get checked out. On Wednesday morning, he called me from the hospital with the words that no wife should ever hear: “I have cancer.”
The next couple days were a blur but we busied ourselves with tasks that we knew we needed to face and were intended to keep our minds off all the questions we had playing around in our heads. I found myself hiding when Ryan thought I was busy working, trying just to keep it together so one would see me weak. On Wednesday night, I quietly cried myself to sleep as the reality of it all hit me. On Thursday night, Ryan tried to hug me and I completely dropped my guard that I had so meticulously set up around me and sobbed in his arms as I expressed all my concerns about everything.
I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to see him waste away as he goes through chemo. I don’t want to see him sick. I don’t want the kids to see him sick. I don’t want to manage everything on my own while he becomes weak and unable to help around the house. I don’t want to be left alone if this can’t be fixed.
Slowly and surely throughout this week, we have come to terms with everything and what our future holds for us. We no longer have a 5 year plan. We plan day-to-day. Sometimes even hour-to-hour. Am I afraid? Absolutely. But my kids need me. And so does my husband.
There are a few things I have learned through the past week. Some I never wanted to learn – learning about oncologists, seminoma and non-seminoma cells, pathology results, chemotherapy, types of cancer vs other types of cancer, how cancer will travel up the lymph nodes – and others I am so thankful to have learned:
- I have a God on my side that will sustain me no matter what I am faced with. I am so thankful for the way He has worked in my life to get me to where I am today that I can actually cope with Cancer. A few years ago, He pressed me and pulled me closer to Him through strong adversity. He wanted me to draw closer to Him and He showed me the means to do so. He encouraged me to do daily devotions. I joined online Bible Study groups and He led me to Proverbs 31 Ministries. After years of feeling alone in my struggles, I was suddenly surrounded by an on-line community of women who whispered “me too” when I voiced my faults, fears and doubts. Through all this study, passages became engraved in my mind and on my heart. Throughout the past week, as I sobbed and prayed, I have heard the sweet whispers of Him echoing in my heart with words like, ” … in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33); and “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26); and “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
- My husband is stronger than I ever knew. His faith has never wavered. He’s not afraid of tomorrow or next week. And he loves me. And how I love him.
- I am not alone in this fight. The amount of messages, texts, Facebook posts, telephone calls, visits – it is overwhelming. From family, to friends who I grew up with, to amazing new friends in my life, to a church community unlike any other, to online friends, even “imaginary friends” (you know who you are 😉 – you are all amazing and I couldn’t do this without you. Thank you all.
Don’t get me wrong. Cancer sucks. Absolutely and whole-heartedly. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. But I know that He is working for my good. Even when I don’t see it.