It was a blessing that Robbyn was in the NICU, because there was no way we would have been able to care for a newborn with all of the testing and appointments ahead of me that week.
I would have loved to sit in the NICU and rock her 24/7, but I had a job to do: fight this cancer.
I was discharged as early as I could be; 24 hours on the dot after delivering Robbyn. I called my nurse navigator at community. (She coordinates all of my appointments, testing, scripts, and financial assistance and she is AMAZING). I called to tell her I had delivered Robbyn the morning before, and was hoping some of my testing could be moved up so we could start chemo ASAP. Not that I was in a hurry or anything.
Well, she moved heaven and earth and got almost everything moved up. I was discharged from St Francis on the 16th and had my mammogram, clip placement, and cardiac echo done on the 17th. Talk about service! The night of the 17th, the night before my PET scan, I was an anxious mess.
I prayed what I have been for what seems hourly the last two weeks, “God give me peace!”
For me, this scan was the most significant piece of missing information. It would tell us if the cancer had started somewhere else, or if it had already spread to other areas of my body.
The next morning, I woke up at 6 am to pray, no, beg God for good results. Ryanne had wandered downstairs sleepy-eyed with tousled hair, crawled in my lap, and slept while I prayed.
I begged God not to leave this little girl without a mommy, and for God to allow me the privilege of watching my three beautiful children grow.
I also prayed for peace if I didn’t hear the results that I wanted and for the strength to keep my eyes fixed on God.
Reed was clingy and could sense probably something was off. Jordan looked like he hadn’t slept in a week. How lucky I am I to have so many people concerned and love me so much?
We got to the cancer center where I was registered, and taken back to a tiny room with nothing but a recliner and a small table. The technician started an IV, then left and came back in the room with a small lock box. She explained that I would be injected with a radioactive tracer that would attach to sugar because fast growing cells use a lot of sugar. Cancer cells are very fast growing; so they would light up on the scan and show if there were cancerous spots anywhere else on my body.
She opened it up the small lock box and inside was a menacing looking metal syringe that resembled something they inject into the villain in a superhero movie to give him super-human powers. She explained that the tracer would stay in my body for 6 hours and advised me not to be near children.
Well great, no seeing Robbyn today unless I want to turn her into a Marvel character.
She went on to tell me that the tracer takes an hour to circulate through my body before they could complete the scan, so I would have to sit in this tiny room until then.
It was then I realized that I had left my purse with Jordan, and asked the technician if she could get it from him. She came back to say, “Um…He and your mom went to the NICU when we told them it would be a while before you are finished.”
Well, I couldn’t be upset that he was so smitten with a certain little gal in the NICU. She was so sweet and had the roles been reversed I would have done the same thing. He is an amazing dad with so much love for our kids.
But with him at the NICU with my purse, I now had to sit in this tiny room in complete silence for an hour.
So I sat.
I begged God with everything inside me to take this illness from me. To let this cancer be confined in my breast. To keep me with my husband and kids.
It was then, that I had the biggest epiphany of my 28 years. I was having a tiny glimpse into what Christ must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified. I was sitting in this room, in physical pain, worrying about being separated from my husband and my small children should this cancer kill me.
The pain that I felt had nothing to do with the fear of dying, but rather it all had to do with the separation from my family.
How much more awful must it have been for the holy, perfect, Christ to know that he would willingly take on the sin of the whole world (past, present, and future). On the cross, He took our place as the holy sacrifice, so that we could go to heaven but in the return he had to be separated from God the father while doing so.
God the father is so completely just and holy that he cannot be in the presence of anything unholy (aka: all of us). Because God is so just, someone had to pay the price for our sin. So, Jesus Christ came to earth to live a sinless life, because we clearly cannot and died on the cross to “settle the bill” for our sin so that we can be in the presence of God for eternity.
It has always baffled me why Jesus was so upset in the garden the night before he was crucified. He knew what was about to happen. He knows everything, for pete sake. It was the whole point of him coming to earth, and he knew exactly how the story would end. He knew that he would rise from the dead after three days conquering death like no one had or ever will. So why was he so distraught?
“Father, if it is your will take this cup from me; nevertheless not my will but yours be done. Then an angel of the LORD appeared to him from heaven, strengthening him, and being in agony he prayed more earnestly. Then his sweat became great like drops of blood falling on the ground.” Luke 22:42-45
I have been told this story in church over and over again but it had never “clicked” with me until now.
He was so distraught because he was going to be separated from his father.
The pain of knowing that he would have the sin of the world on him and would not be able to be in the presence of God, tormented him.
Jesus knew the ending but that didn’t make the separation any easier.
Just as we know the ending; as Christians we win. Jesus Christ has defeated death and Satan. We will go to heaven and be with God for eternity, but that doesn’t make the idea of being separated from our loved ones any easier.
The pain of knowing if I died I would not be near my husband and children was crippling.
It makes it that much more absolutely humbling to know that Christ took on that kind of pain…FOR ME, so that I can have eternal life.
It was at this point, I began to worry since the tracer was attracted to blood sugar and hyperactive cells and maybe I should calm down before I have a panic attack and my whole body lights up like I Christmas tree on the can! (I’m pretty sure that’s not how it works but I didn’t want to take any chances.)
I then prayed for peace…again. I wanted that peace that passes all understanding.
It was then something happened that has never happened to me before. God started bringing bible verses to the front of my mind. No, that’s not a miracle and they are all verses that I have heard before but one right after another they were filling my head.
First I heard, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10
“The Lord will fight for you, you only need to be still.” Exodus 14:14
“I have told you these thing that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble but take heart for I have overcome the world” John 16:33
“Be anxious about nothing but in everything with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
(Disclaimer: I did not know the exact chapter and verse of these at the time)
And then… I fell asleep in the chair, even though minutes earlier I was ready to bolt from the building. It was amazing the overwhelming calm that God had given me.
This was peace, real peace.
I had no idea if he would heal me but I had peace.
The kind of peace that cannot be described.
The actual scan was uneventful and very much like and MRI. As we left, my navigator said she would call as soon as she had the results. We went to eat lunch, then Jordan was going back to the NICU with his sister, since I had been banished due to my radioactive status.
My mom had a few things to pick up, so I was going to ride with her to Meijer. On stop 11 road right by St. Francis, my phone rang.
It was my navigator.
She said she had the results of the PET scan.
My immediate response was to throw up.
She said the PET scan was clear! I asked about my lymph nodes and she said they were clear too! Praise God! He heard my cry! I could breathe. Really breathe. For the first time in two weeks.
I called Jordan and he whooped and shouted “Babe we’ve got this! Are you ready to fight?”
I love that man so much.
My mom was immediately calling my dad, bawling at the intersection of stop 11 and Emerson…while driving, or at least attempting to drive.
I yelled “YOU HAVE TO DRIVE!”
This cancer might not kill me but my mom’s driving may.
There can be no denying that she is my mother because the first words she said to me when she got off the phone with my dad were, “We need ice cream!”
So by golly, we got ice cream!