Once Upon a November
Today is November 7, a day that will always represent one of the most defining moments in my family's life. Fourteen years in Heaven. It was roughly 1:15 in the afternoon when Brian gave his last breath on Earth. It was a Monday, and that afternoon and for many years to come, I found myself begging and praying to God: Please don’t let anything happen to me. I need to be healthy, strong, and alive for my boys, at least until they live on their own. Please, please, please don’t let me get sick. As I reflect on that time, I know how traumatized I was, allowing my fear to own me. At some point, the feeling and prayers became less frantic because I learned to tuck the fear away. I guess I had hoped it would just disappear. This year, as most of you know, has been a journey for my whole family. We have worked together to face challenges, and, yes, we have all grown. But the fear that I so carefully stuffed into the deepest part of my heart? Well, it never did disappear and has been in great need of excising, and God is the only one who can do that for me.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I immediately noticed the timing of it all. March, 2005. March, 2019. Hmmmm....so I share His perfect timeline with you. And a glimpse into how His redemptive hand delivered me from my traumatic fear and healed my heart.
March 2005: Brian was diagnosed with non-curative, very rare cancer. Pulmonary artery sarcoma. 1 in 20 million, only 300 people a year in the world. Abysmal survival rate.
March 2019: I was diagnosed with curable, treatable early stages of breast cancer. 1 in 8. Twelve percent of women in the world. Low recurrence rate so odds are it won't be back after treatment.
April to August 2005 for Brian: Surgery, radiation, chemo. Friends, family, and community rallied and helped in countless ways. God provided every need. But never any good news that Brian would live. One doctor thought he might not make it to Christmas.
April to August 2019 for Susan: Chemo and surgery - everything positive. Full response to chemo, surgery super successful, complete negative pathology after surgery - no evidence of cancer. Friends, family, and our community rallied and helped in countless ways. God provided every need.
September to November 7, 2005: Brian got sicker and sicker, and we knew the end was very near. We planned his service, he wrote the boys letters, and we talked about what he wanted for our family after he was gone. Friends traveled to see him to say good-bye. We spent that last weekend he was alive with a house full of people loving us. Monday, November 7, he entered the gates of Heaven.
September to Today, November 7, 2019: I moved forward in healing, stronger every day, always hearing the same good news. I will be healed. I will be okay. Friends helped all through surgery recovery with meals, phone calls, prayers, and lots of love.
And now, here it is, November 7, and I’m still alive with a heart and soul transformed and healed. God knew exactly what I needed to face my fear and work through it. I had to live the March to November cancer timeline all over again but this time, with good news, with positive outcomes, and with a time to heal and not a time to die. AND He would again show me how He provides every need for us. He knew what my family needed: to experience cancer without it ending in death. He knew my boys needed to experience again how He loves, heals, and cares for us in crisis. And thankfully, God knows my heart for my children, and it isn't my time to go Home...not yet. Suffering will come; it is part of this earthly journey. But His story of redemption is far greater than our sufferings. It is the eternal promise that He will walk with us now in every detail and, when it is our time, to bring us home to glory.