When I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in 2000, I came face-to-face with my own mortality—and learned some profound lessons that transformed my view of reality. I would never sign up for my cancer experience, but neither would I trade away the treasures mined from it.
Above all, I learned to live with the awareness that we all really do have an impending, inescapable appointment awaiting us. We all have an appointment with God. No matter how busy or distracted we are or how distant that appointment may seem, one telephone call can change everything.
My call came when I was a 40-year-old mother of two preschool children and a happily married wife. The following post is Part 5 in “Snapshots of a Mother’s Cancer Experience,” a series that chronicles my journey through diagnosis, surgery, and beyond. (You can find a chronological list of the previous Snapshots here.)
Tuesday, July 25
Something is definitely not right. I have been spotting.
I’m not happy about having this colposcopy. I’m apprehensive about getting through it, and I totally resent the time it requires. In the three years that Roger Casey and I have been parents, we have not been away on a date. Although I am comfortable having a dear friend care for Roger Dean and Ryan for the evening, going out for a biopsy is not my idea of a romantic date.
Roger Casey changed his plans to accompany me. He was supposed to play guitar with the worship team at church. I am grateful, but it makes me sad.
He has not complained, but I imagine he is disappointed. And it reminds me of another time when he had to cancel. He was scheduled to play at a church leadership conference in the morning. The night before the conference, I went into labor.
My labor pains with our first son started at about 10:30 p.m. Knowing Roger was supposed to leave early the next morning, I didn’t want to disturb him unless I was absolutely certain I was having his baby … and not just having really bad gas.
I sat alone in the living room throughout the night, timing my contractions. Well, actually, I wasn’t alone. As my pain intensified, my faithful cat of 17 years jumped up and perched on the arm of the couch beside me. At sunrise, I finally woke Roger and called the doctor.
Although it seemed like my first baby would arrive any minute, my contractions persisted for 39 ½ hours until—at last—Roger Dean was born.
The second time I was pregnant, Roger was asked to play at a church conference scheduled shortly after my due date. Since we had talked about how hard it had been for me to labor all alone that first time, Roger asked how I wanted him to respond. With my blessing, he said yes to the music director, but told him to be ready with a backup plan in case I went into labor.
Sure enough, steady contractions began the morning of the conference.
Perhaps it sounds ridiculous to be concerned about causing my husband to cancel his plans because I was giving birth to his child. I know. It even sounds a little ridiculous to me. But Roger is so passionate about playing guitar—especially worship music.
Playing guitar for Jesus feeds his soul. There is almost nothing he would rather do, except witness the births of his sons. I am not so sure that he would rather accompany his wife to her colposcopy. Yet here he is.
As he drives, I study his profile and remember one of the events that caused me to fall deeply in love with him…
One day, when I lived alone before we were married, I started noticing tiny black flies buzzing around my house. It took two weeks before I discovered that I had been flushing my toilet directly into my basement.
Even the emergency plumber who capped the leaking sewage pipe obviously did not want to deal with that mess. He handed me his bill, waved in the direction of my biological disaster, and mumbled something about my getting that cleaned up because it could be dangerous. Gee, thanks.
After he drove away, I hurried to the doctor’s appointment where I had that first “lovely” colposcopy I’d described to Christine and Joelle. You know, the one where the doctor unexpectedly sliced me, and I immediately passed out. I awoke to hear him say that I had the potential for cancer brewing in my body. The combination of those two events totally overwhelmed me.
I drove home weeping and called Roger.
He came to my house immediately after work, scooped me into his arms, wiped my tears, and held me for a long time. Then he rolled up his sleeves, donned plastic gloves and boots, and attacked my basement with a bucket of bleach.
To this day, I have never met a man or woman I respect more.
♥ ♥ ♥
Come back next Monday to read the next Snapshot. In the mean time, if you are in the midst of a trial, we would love to pray for you. Leave a comment below.