Until the danger has passed

‘You can’t control what happens, you can only control how you react to what happens’.  In order to do this, one has to be very self- aware, and also able to exercise strict self-control. But what if what happens is something beyond your control? For instance, what if you get a cancer diagnosis? How do you react?

In my case, I felt removed from that news.  I understood what was said, but I didn’t own that news.  I thought that for such a thing to be true, I would have had to be sick, or feel sick, for a long time and then finally after a lot of tests, find out that the cause was cancer.  There are at least two reasons why I felt that way. 1: I had lost my mother to colorectal cancer a few months prior, and it just didn’t seem true that I would now find myself in the same position; and 2: I had never heard of Leiomyosarcoma.

So initially I felt removed from that, and then after a trip to the Mayo clinic, and feeling rushed to make a decision about doing chemo, I started getting scared.  So I took the full six weeks to decide.  I was told they like to start by six weeks post diagnosis. Even at the point where I went there to start treatments, I was still undecided. I ended up getting one round of chemo, and it laid me out! Up to that point, I was not in pain, I felt well, and this felt like I was dying! I felt that the cure was worse than the illness.  So I decided not to finish the eight rounds that were recommended.

During the weeks prior to that first round, I had been reading and researching cancer and its treatments and found some interesting information from a lot of sources.  I also found out that a lot of people who were diagnosed with any kind of cancer, had experienced within two years prior to their diagnosis, three things; death of a loved one, financial stress, and other severe life stressors.  It is no wonder then, that 41% of Americans can expect to be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. (Ries et al., 2007).

In all the research, I found that the success rate after all the cancer treatments have been exhausted, is only about fifty percent.  What?!  After all these years, and all the money for research, and all the costs of these treatments that’s the best one can hope for?  Seriously, is there any other area in life where such a dismal success rate would be acceptable? That sounds like the odds are never in your favor!

Another place I turned was to God’s word. There were so many encouraging and uplifting passages, and also since only God knows how and when we will leave this life, I decided to put my trust in Him.  Sure I would like to live a long life, but I’d rather have quality of life over quantity of life.  That’s the other thing I found when reading the warnings on the chemo medications the possible side effects are many and varied.

So I’ve changed my diet. I get my scans frequently, and I’ve leaned into God’s word and am covered under his wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. Psalm 91:4.  Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy, for in You my soul takes refuge.  In the shadow of Your wings I will take shelter until the danger has passed. Psalm 57:1.

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