After I wrote that last post on Christmas Eve I thought I wouldn't need to keep posting. God had answered our prayers and we received the best possible news: Craig's cancer was stage one with 80% to 100% chance the cancer would not return. In my mind I thought, "We have our lives back!"
Only we weren't done. And God sure isn't done with me. I didn't know what it would look like or how it would feel to be where we are now, post-cancer. Praise God! He heard our cries for mercy and poured out graciously. So why didn't I feel joyous? I spent a lot of time on my knees, so grateful that Craig was here, that he was alive! Thank you, Jesus!
But there were also times when my knees buckled, not in prayer before my Savior but in fear, the kind of fear that squeezes your heart and make you cry out loud in agony. "Is this how it is going to be from now on?", I cried? I didn't feel like myself at all. I was thankful one moment and trying to figure out how I would take care of me and the kids without Craig the next. I was exhausted from the days at the hospital, then trying to celebrate Christmas. I was physically sick with a sinus infection and spiritually numb. I bounced back and forth between worrying about life insurance and how to manage the finances and then having the financial security rug yanked out from under me. Of course, it didn't help that my analytical, medical student/almost dr. husband was reading cancer statistics to me in bed every night after the kids were asleep! It helped Craig to know the facts and face them; hearing them made me want to throw up. He seemed to have a new lease on life but I felt like I was holding my breath, afraid to exhale.
The kids were struggling, too. Hannah in her quiet way but Hans shared a little more. I prayed with the kids that first night we were home as a family. We knelt beside Hans's bed and I told them we needed to ask God every single day to keep the cancer from coming back anywhere in Daddy's body. We prayed but when we were finished, Hans said in a small, quiet voice, "It makes me uncomfortable to talk about Daddy's cancer coming back."
A little side note: I could never have imagined how hard it would be to talk to your kids about their daddy having cancer, praying together for his healing and answering frank questions while looking into their frightened, hurting eyes. You just want to pull them to you and say it will never happen, ever. But you cannot say that. They know the truth. Sometimes God, for reasons we don't understand, says no to our prayers and pleadings. We know He is faithful and believe that He loves us but right then, in that moment, we just wanted to know Craig would never leave us.
I took a deep breath, and answered Hans honestly. I told them both it made me feel sick in my stomach to say the word cancer in the same sentence with Daddy's name. But we had to pray because God wants us to come to Him with the desires of our hearts. He wants to carry our burdens. And it will get easier with time. And it has.
Slowly, I am coming to a place of surrender. Peace and joy are filling my heart now rather than fear most days. I think it is the same for Craig, Hannah and Hans. We laugh more and feel more relaxed. Most nights when it is Hans's turn to pray, he thanks God for all the miracles He's performed in our family-and he doesn't seem uncomfortable anymore. I thought we were at the end of this cancer-story but I was wrong.
Craig and I have been praying and asking God what lessons He wants us to learn from this, what He wants us to differently. We don't want His grace to us to be without effect. We don't want to waste time or put off the work He has for us to do. Family time has taken a top priority. Making the change to a church that better fits our family is another.
This blog is another. I am not sure why but God has burdened my heart to keep posting on this blog. Maybe because we still need your prayers in the months of scans and tests to come. I wish it weren't so but every unusual symptom sends our minds back to a place of fear. We anxiously ask ourselves, "Has the cancer come back?" Obviously we need prayers to keep our focus steadfastly on God. Craig needs prayers for complete healing; that the cancer won't come back in his other kidney, lungs or liver.
I hope you can take some small comfort from seeing God's faithfulness in our family's story. God has been loving us through all of you. We have received the most heart-felt notes on days when our spirits were dragging. Friends have emailed to say they are praying on days when I was feeling alone. The perfect Bible verse was shared when it was most needed. God has yoked us with an amazing circle of believers; I don't know how we would have survived without each of you coming alongside to help carry this burden.
We have had the opportunity to pray for two others suffering from renal cell carcinoma in the short time since Craig was diagnosed. We understand in a unique way now, how it feels to hear the words that feel like a death sentence and the suffering and struggle that follows. We want to share the comfort we have felt and help to carry the burden of anyone who needs it. If we can pray for you or someone you love, please, please let me know.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5