I will never forget the day I got the phone call. It was late afternoon, and I stood at the dryer, large metal mouth open, heat still pouring out from the mound of fresh clothing inside, pulling out the items one by one and hanging them on sturdy white plastic hangers. I heard the ring, saw that it was my father's cell phone, not one that calls my house very often. I continued my chore as I answered a call that would change my life forever.
"Hey, Daddy... what's going on?"
Pause. I could feel it over the phone. How that's possible, I will never understand, but my heart, it fell down to the floor, and he hadn't even uttered a single word yet.
"It's your mom... she..."
"Dad, what's going on?"
"She has cancer..."
That moment is frozen solid as an ice cube in my mind. I don't remember much after those few words. The 24 hours to follow was a time-warped blur of packing up my kids, driving to my mother's house, and taking her to an appointment the following day. The months that followed encompassed chemo, surgery, radiation. Watching someone suffer is one of the most helpless feelings I have ever experienced. If am suffering, I can compartmentalize it, make sense of it in my own way, and deal with it on my terms. But watching someone you love so dearly suffer... well, it's almost unbearable.
The moments. The call that it had returned. The call that it was spreading. The call that the treatment wasn't working. The call that chemo would start next week. The calls... there have been many. Many moments. More snapshots of my life to tuck away, to store in the midst of the normal everyday stuff. The conversations with my mother, the laughs, the visits eating Blizzards and shopping for shoes. It's so hard to reconcile between the two... they don't seem like they belong together.
Next week, my mother will begin a different phase of treatment, one her doctor has worked so hard to delay. Chemo. Her spirits are good. She is incredibly strong. We really weren't surprised. Over the last several weeks, she hadn't been feeling her normal self, and, as her doctor says, the way she feels says a lot. The scan yesterday revealed there had been some growth in her liver. How significant, I am not really sure. And, in all honesty, when fighting her type of cancer, hot spots in different areas of the body, I think it's almost irrelevant. One thing I've learned through this experience is patience. Oncologists have to be among the most intelligent people in the world, and they couple that with the amazing virtue of patience. They know what to try first, and then have the patience to give that treatment an opportunity to work. And that's what we'll do again. Try something new. Wait back and see. Pray and wait. Enjoy her and wait. Keep living and wait. The hard part's in the waiting.
I will close with my cancer verse. I've called it my cancer verse in my mind for quite some time now. There's so much talk among the media and the world about hope for the cure. My hope, however, doesn't lie in a cure, in a doctor, in a medicine, in this world or anything of it.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13