Chemotherapy #13 is complete and in the books! So far nausea hasn’t been as bad as last time. Thank you Jesus for that blessing! Only two more chemo treatments to go.
Today is my 40th birthday and I have to say, having cancer was not in my plans. My plans consisted of being fit and healthy, and finally buying some land to build a house. Well let’s just say being on chemo, you actually gain weight and then the financial burden sent the house and land out the window. I know things could be worse and I am very thankful for where I am. Cancer does make you put life and relationships into perspective.
Over the last few weeks God has really been speaking to me about suffering. I am learning that thru suffering, I am finding out what matters most. Not material things that is just stuff. What matters most is relationships. I want to be content in where my life is right now, even going through cancer. Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation. Whatever well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. Turning forty, I have been reflecting over my life and boy, I sure have had some sufferings. I had an amazing childhood. Grew up my entire life going to church and knowing about God. What a blessing! I got to marry my high school sweetheart who I couldn’t imagine going through this life without. But there has been sufferings.
Me and Jonathan celebrated our 1 year anniversary with a scare of breast cancer. I found a lump and had surgery to remove it. Thankfully is was a fibroid tumor and nothing more. It was not the anniversary that I thought it would be, taking a trip to celebrate, but having my husband take care of me after surgery.
I had a dream of having a large family of five kids. Five just seemed like the perfect number of kids to me. All boys and one girl. In 2004, we were ecstatic to learn we were expecting. At 9 weeks we were devastated to learn that our baby no longer had a heartbeat. My body wasn’t miscarrying naturally so we had to have a minor surgery to remove it. That was the hardest moment to go through.
We continued to try for more kids and in 2006, I was expecting again. Excited but nervous. Everything seemed to be going good and then one morning I started having this horrible bloating feeling. The Dr. couldn’t see me until the next day. I got to the point where I could not keep my head above my heart and I had to keep my feet elevated to keep from fainting. By the time I got to the Dr. and they did an ultrasound, they discovered I had an ectopic pregnancy and I had been bleeding internally. I was rushed into the O.R. and almost died. (Well according to the medical team, but not to God. He knew very well I wasn’t going to die that day.) I couldn’t even mourn the loss of my baby. I became very bitter and would try to avoid my friends who were having their own babies. Finally a year and a half later, I allowed myself to mourn my loss. I will never forget that moment. All those feelings I kept hidden for so long just bubble out. I think it was worse that I kept those feeling trapped down for so long.
Hardly not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. It’s still hard for me when their due dates come around. I wonder if they were girls or boys or one of each. I wonder what their personalities would be. Who do they look like. I do have a promise that one day I will get to hold each of them. I can’t wait to hold their faces in my hands and let them know how much I love them.
Over the next few years we continued to try for a baby but struggled with infertility. In 2009, I went into surgery thinking I was having laparoscopic surgery to remove some cysts on my ovaries and came out with a 5 inch scar with stage 4 endometriosis. I was told that I would never conceive on my own and that I would need to either go through forced menopause or try IVF. Talk about a surprising blow! We wanted babies so we went the IVF route. That was a struggle. Daily shots for months. (I didn’t do so well with those at the time. Now I’m a pro.) Our first try was not successful and I was feeling bitter all over again. The next try would be our last.
I will never forget the night before our last IVF. As I prayed, I told God my life was completely in His hands. If it wasn’t meant for us to have kids I would be ok with that. It may take some time and with His help, but I knew I would get ok. If there was a different path that we were to go down, we would. I grew up thinking that was how I always felt. Like I put my life in God’s hands, but it wasn’t until that moment in my suffering that I realized I never really had. I have made a conscious choice to do so now. I am happy to tell everyone that IVF worked and we have been blessed with our sonshine, Levi. Going through the miscarriages and infertility has made me appreciate him even more and has made me a different mommy. He brings us great joy and delight.
As I am going through my current suffering, cancer, it has been different. I can see how my earlier sufferings has made my faith in God grow stronger. I understand and know the importance of keeping Him close. As He has given me the word suffering, it has been amazing to see how he has given me devotions and versus of confirmation. 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us. John 3:30 He must become greater; I must become less. In Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (I highly recommend it), He says that God places the treasure of His son into the clay pots of our lives. God does this so that the excellency of the treasure would be that much more brilliant. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed, we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. Whenever we go through hard times and sufferings, there is opportunity for the light to shine forth through the breaking of the vessel. I can picture us as these broken down dirty vases who have cracks and holes because we are not perfect, but Jesus’ perfect light is shining through them. We must be willing to let His light shine.
I want to continue to encourage those who are suffering now and who will be, to let Jesus shine though your broken vessels. God doesn’t promise us that we won’t go through things, but He does promise He will be with us. Isaiah 4:10 Do not panic. I am with you. There is no need to fear for I am your God. I will give you strength. I will help you. I will hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you with my righteous right hand. What a testimony we could be to others!
God, I pray that through my sufferings, the light of Jesus is shown through my brokenness to others who do not realize your greatest treasure to us – Jesus. In Jesus’ name – Amen