Yesterday, was the day my husband and I went to my oncologist’s office to get the results of my Pet CT and my Bone Marrow Biopsy. Sleep didn’t come easy the night before, what with the Prednisone pills giving me an anxious, nervous, feeling and battling issues of the effects of chemo on my digestive system during the long night. Not to mention the fact that the week before I had gotten a copy of my Pet Scan from the nurse and it did not look good. According to what I understood from what I read, the cancer had “lit-up” in my neck, throat, stomach, and organs. I assumed my prognosis was not looking too good and that this might very well be “my time” to meet the Lord. I spent days in prayer, asking God to give me peace with whatever His Holy will was for my life. By the time I got to the doctor’s office, I had peace in my heart. I was sitting in the waiting room meditating and this beautiful image of Jesus welcoming me into his arms came into my mind. Embraced by love, it was so comforting. I thought to myself, “Whatever the doctor tells me today, whatever the prognosis, I am going to be fine with it.”
When the doctor came into the office, he was all cheery, and told us that much to his surprise my bone marrow was free of cancer cells. And, that according to the Pet CT he was downgrading my diagnosis from Stage 3 to Stage 2. He went on to say that it was barely a stage two because most of the small cancerous lymph nodes were on the right side of my body and there was only one very small lymph node on the left side – when it is on both sides it becomes a stage 2. He assured me that he believed that the Chemo treatments would knock out the cancer, for good. I could not believe my ears! “But, doctor,” I said, “What about the Pet Scan and the cancer that lit up in other parts of my body?” He asked me, “What are you talking about?” I showed him the scan and what I had highlighted and he said, “Oh my goodness, whoever printed this must have printed someone else’s results on top of your results.” “You do not have cancer anywhere else in your body.” I cannot even describe the relief I felt in that moment. “Oh praise God,” I said, “I was so scared.” The doctor said to me, “I would be scared too, if that had been my pet scan.”
My husband and I went out to lunch to celebrate the wonderful, blessed news. Though the food tasted awful, as everything does at the moment, it was a joyful occasion and we were both sitting there with huge smiles on our faces, talking about the future and what we were going to do after Chemo was over. Perhaps rent a small cabin up north where it is cool in the month of August where I can recuperate. Of course, we must bring our dogs, and it must be somewhere where there are trails to walk in the woods, preferably near a park. I need to be in nature to pray and heal, to hear God’s voice. So, we dreamed and talked and laughed, and felt true joy in the moment.
Looking back at the anxiousness of waiting for the diagnosis, I pondered how so many times in my life I have worried about something, agonized over a family member, or had a hard time accepting something that I could not change. Always my prayer is “Lord, help me accept your will,” but I often fight Him about it. I argue and plead my case, trying to get my way, not understanding why God doesn’t move as fast as I want or the way I expect. In each instance, I have learned that God knows best, that sometimes time is what is needed, sometimes acceptance is what is needed, sometimes a new outlook is what is needed, and sometimes, God has a much better idea than mine. It often happens, when I finally surrender and give my all and say to Him, “Lord, I surrender to your will, do with me what you will, just give me the guidance, courage, and the graces I will need to endure or whatever it is I have to do in this situation,” that is when the peace comes. That is when surrendering brings joy – when, as St. Ignatius advises, I can become “indifferent” to the outcome and find peace of heart, mind, and soul.