I’m definitely an ad hock writer but learning to be ok with that. Today in church we were encouraged to write out chapters of our stories and here is one from the last few month. It’s a long one but well worth a read.
I’m going to start with an apology not many knew I was facing what I am going to talk about today but I needed the circle on this to be small and I’ll explain why later.
So I’m about to go on a sailing trip with the Ellen Macather Cancer Trust in-fact I’m writing this from the train on route. It’s my second trip of the season my first being in April earlier this year. 2 days before I had a call, you know the ones you don’t want.
I’d had a scan in February, and the results got a little lost. But eventually I got a call in April, saying ‘we’ve looked at your scan’. I’m already in hyper drive! Thinking you don’t call for nothing. Come on spit it out… ugh get to the point… What is it? what’s wrong?! Still more waffle about how what they were looking for was clear but how sometimes these scans show other things…
Ok now I’m worrying it’s not my lungs, there is no scaring. This is what the routine scan was for. What is it?
They found an enlarged lymph node… if you’ve ever faced cancer you know where my brain was at right in that moment… ok so it’s fighting again then? Is it Hodgkins? I am at a higher risk, and that weird complication I had was early signs of this. My mind went straight there!
It wasn’t crazy big, but the radiographer had requested an ultrasound scan within 2 months (we were at that 2 month mark then). He says it could be due to an infection or it could be more sinister and with my history he wanted it checked. He want it done quickly because of the timeframe set by radiology. But thinks the best way for this was to have it in Hereford as if any follow up was needed it could be done locally. He also said it wasn’t an Immunology issue so they were handing it on. In this I heard we don’t think it’s infection related (as they deal with all this) and think it could be more sinister.
See once you face cancer you end up living in this place of a fear of relapsing. Living in the unknown and having the looming worry of relapse over you. You also become an expert in reading through the lines of the doctors while it’s hard to get their tone across in this I definitely felt the need for the rush to find out.
Within a few mins of putting down the phone I was a mess. In a place where my future was uncertain, and scared at how was going to impact this life I’ve finally started to get back.
I took a moment, and thought ok let’s be rational and rule this out. Have I had any other symptoms?
⁃ tiredness, yes but that could also be down to other things…
⁃ night sweats, ohh actually yes
⁃ Bruising, yep that killer bruise from Cyprus was still lingering months in
⁃ Itchy skin- yep
⁃ Unexplained weight-loss no but it’s the only one.
Now I realised this could just be coincidence, but instead of ruling it out it brought just more uncertainty.
Within a few hours, I’d had some people come around me and pray for me. I’d hit the practical mode of planning. Ok, so if I’m fighting it will still be early stages. I’d have minimal treatment and I’d be back to normal within 6months. I’d be ok… I could cope. Right when do I tell people? Who do I tell, how would I get to treatment? Where would I have treatment.
I called the Trust just so they knew where I was at head space wise for the residential trip. They said if I needed to or didn’t think I could they would manage without me. I say I’ll be ok and they say if you change your mind at any time let us know. I love the trust and how they care for their volunteers.
I arrive to big hugs from the team and a conversation about how if I need time out just to say. Throw myself in and forget about it.
Then just before going home I have a conversation with a young person about a scan they were waiting for, my advice to them was until you know try to assume it’s nothing, what’s the point wasting time worrying for what could be nothing.
I never realised just how hard this advice really was to follow, til I started to do it myself. Hitting reality of home, I was constantly checking the mail for the letter from my consultant to my G.P for scan referral. I let the waiting consume me. I spent the following few weeks calling doctors to chase things only to experience delay after delay of getting answers. Just getting more and more worried in the waiting.
I soon realised that this was a pointless waste of time. So chose not to let the fear or worry steal from me any longer. While this was a journey that didn’t always work. I chose to refocus each time on God knowing he has it all. Knowing that worry solved nothing so why waste my time with it.
In church and academy we sang this song called follow you anywhere by passion. Part of the lyrics are ‘there’s a million reasons to trust you, nothing to fear for you are by my side, I’ll follow you anywhere.’ One week we were singing this and I broke. Into such a blubbering mess, because I realised I’m singing this and truly meaning it. But that following God anywhere also means anywhere even back into the fight.
A week or so later I go on a walk with God. It actually felt more like I’d gone 10 rounds with Him. After an hour he says to me that I fail to have desires of the heart all because I’m too afraid of them being ripped out from under me, and while yes I was surrendered it was only because I had nothing to surrender.
The days that followed I went on several more walks and realised just how right this was. I was ready to fight but part of the reason for this was because although yes outcomes were unknown it would bring in a lot of known to. I’d be re-entering my comfort zone and the place I thrived, being a super patient who knew how to navigate through. This was my comfort zone.
I soon realised as I had a plan for if I was to fight I also needed one for if I wasn’t. I needed to put those dreams and desires in my heart again, and not be so afraid of loosing the things in my life that I refused to live. In this I realised just how long I lived in the fear of loosing it all.
Yes I’ve written about this before and I’m not saying I haven’t been living, or acting on this by going on the journey of truly living. What I’m realising tho is there is always more. ALWAYS MORE!
I won’t say right now what those things in my heart are. But for the first time in the longest time I can truly say I have dreams, I have aspirations and I’m chasing after them unafraid of them being swept away again.
Oh yea the lump.. It’s taken 6 months from my initial scan to answers. But I had a scan about 2 weeks ago and it’s nothing! NOTHING! The lymph node is still enlarged but completely within normal range, and so nothing to worry about.
Yes I cried when I left the hospital seems like even though I wasn’t letting the fear of future hold me. There was still a huge sense of relief that my future didn’t look like more drip stands and treatments.
I would have told people if it was something but I felt that worrying others as well was silly and unnecessary. I also decided I didn’t want to make a big deal about it and felt it would help with this.
Sometimes we are taken on unexpected journeys to unearth and uncover different things.
This chapter of my life has taught me
⁃ not to live in a place of fear or worry.
⁃ That my faith is strong and knowing I can trust God makes life that bit easier.
⁃ That not everyone needs to know every battle you face, for me this helped because I wasn’t constantly being asked for updates from everyone. It also increased my faith because I chose to lean on God in these moments more.
⁃ That doctors are over worked humans who can forget to send letters but be patient with them.
⁃ That I have a future
⁃ That I can really live
⁃ That it’s normal to have dreams and aspirations and these can be from God too.
⁃ That prayer works
⁃ Having people that speak life into situations of death and uncertainty is so helpful for keeping you positive and worry free.