I had an appointment with Dr. White a couple of weeks later and Chris met me there. My mom stayed home with the kids. At the time I wasn't thinking much about what my mom and dad might have been thinking or feeling during that appointment, but looking back, I hope I am never in the same situation as they were that day...my child getting biopsy results.
Dr. White explained the biopsy results- that I did have skin cancer and it was melanoma. He gave me a plan...another procedure followed by another biopsy, to see if it had spread. If it had, I was going to need some type of dye which would travel to my lymph nodes so the doctor could see where to work next. Then, maybe chemo. He told me that my chances were great. He said that it was more likely that I would get in a car wreck and die on the way home from the appointment than that I would die from melanoma. That seems like a weird thing to say now that I think about it, but you would not believe how slowly and carefully I drove home from that appointment. I know that my survival from skin cancer was in no way related to how carefully I drove home, but it seemed like it did. What Dr. White meant was that my chances were really, really good. I get that now.
On that seemingly long 10 minute drive home (Chris and I drove separately), my brain went to some crazy places. Like, what it would look like for my kids to grow up without me? I just prayed over and over that God would let me raise my kids.
I completely broke down emotionally when I got home. Chris was really good about it. I told my mom "It's cancer." That's all I remember.
I'm an introvert. There are times when I like a lot of attention, but mostly I don't want people to look at me or make a big deal out of anything that has to do with me. I told my dad who was my pastor and boss that I didn't want to tell the youth or the church. I kept it a secret and only talked about it with my immediate family and very few friends. I was okay with my extended family knowing, but I didn't want to discuss it. I also didn't want to scare the youth who I worked with. I didn't want them to automatically assume something more tragic than what was actually going on. So, for those of you who are reading this and had no idea that I was going through this at that time, I'm sorry. I know now that you would have given me my space and been a huge prayer support. I just couldn't deal with sharing any more than I had to.
I had the 2nd procedure and waited.
That Christmas Eve was very memorable for one reason. We sang Silent Night and lit our candles and I was praying it wouldn't be the last time I experienced that service.
I started doing a very early morning devotion where I read from a book and then journaled and prayed. I woke up before anyone else in my house and just sat there. I found a deep peace and a much stronger faith because I gave it all over to God and accepted whatever might happen. I chose to be faithful in a desperate place.
In January, Chris and I had another appointment with Dr. White. The cancer had not spread. I would have checks every 6 months. That was it.
My parents were at my house when we got home and shared the news. My dad and I looked out the back window where there was a rainbow and he told me it was a promise from God. He was right. No, it doesn't mean that I will never have cancer again, but it does mean that God will not leave me in my darkest time and that I have no reason to fear.
Lilly was born on April 4, 2 weeks early and beautiful and healthy. I was healthy, too. Today, she is 7 years old, David is nearing his 9th birthday, and Chris and I have been married for 10 1/2 years.
A few months before the first visit with Dr. White, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I will blog more about that later. But, it relates to this story because I was haunted by melanoma for a very long time. I would wake up to panic attacks that it was back and would make appointments with Dr. White for re-checks. I couldn't listen to anyone talk about cancer and when I watched "The Bucket List" I went through intense anxiety. I am better about all of that now.
And I do my best to remember that God will never leave me and that I have no reason to fear.
You are God's creation and you are deeply loved. No matter what you are going through in your life, whether you are in a dark place, a joyful place, a confused place, or a place of doubt....God is there and will not leave. God loves you even if you scream at, shrug off, or ignore God's presence. God has not forgotten about you.
The next time you see a rainbow, breathe deeply and be thankful. I will be doing the same.