Two months ago, June 1st, my husband and I boarded a plane with very heavy hearts. We had just finished meeting with a plastic surgeon at MD Anderson Cancer Institute. This marked the last appointment necessary prior to the planned Total Pelvic Exoneration scheduled for the following Tuesday. The week had been exhausting for both of us as we met with two Gyn-Onc surgeons, a Rad-Onc, a Plastic Surgeon, a Psychologist, several nurses and the Research Program Director. We has asked all our questions, gotten answers and accepted that this surgery was necessary for my highest cure rate....50/50 post surgery according to the doctors and my online research.
God had provided us a week-end blessing through the generosity of a family friend. Billy and I were on our way to enjoy my nephew's high school graduation in Pampa, TX. While there we would also get to see a lot of family, but most importantly, our children who were 9 and 6 years old at the time. What a gift to hug them and kiss their sweet faces one more time before, what was believed to be, a very long and slow recovery time.
The day we were to fly back to Houston, our son began to ask many questions and we decided to tell them what was going to happen so that they would not be surprised the next time they got to see us. There were lots of tears for all of us as their little hearts absorbed the news and accepted God's plan for our family. There are certain moments I'll never forget, and the strength through my kid's tears is one of them. At one point Isaiah looked into my face and confidently reminded me that God lets all things happen for a reason so he knew our family would be okay. Another time my daughter gave me a pep talk through her sobs, firmly holding my face in her hands. She told me over and over that I was strong enough and my body was strong enough to get through this surgery; that she believed I could do it and just knew that I would be okay. I cannot deny these moments cut straight to my core and left me wishing I could spare our kids of this never-ending nightmare called cancer. In the end, after my miracle, I thank God that we shared those moments. Because of the true fear and sadness the kids felt before, they now know more personally who our God is afterwards. A God that allows trials in our lives, but holds us up with His strength as we walk through the fire. A God that performs real life miracles today, not just when Jesus walked on earth. Mostly, they know, that our God is faithful, dependable, merciful.
"He who BEGAN a good work in you WILL complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Phil 1:6
I didn't know I would be given a miracle when I checked in for surgery at 5:00 am June 5th. I had accepted that this was my call to suffer with Jesus and that He would use me for His glory somehow. I often give myself a pep talk out loud when I feel myself faltering. This morning I walked to the hospital restroom, not even realizing the significance of using my own bowels, the way they were designed to be used, one last time. I looked in the mirror wondering what to pray, what to feel, what to say as I hugged so many goodbye before the nurse wheeled me away. Scripture didn't come to mind. Neither a beautiful prayer nor the words of an old hymn popped into my head. Nothing but resolution, surrender, sadness. So with a deep breath, I put out my right hand with my palm facing backwards and closed it tightly as if I were grabbing Jesus' hand. Aloud I uttered, "Let's go Jesus" and walked out to grab Billy's hand as well.
Many hours later I awoke in a recovery room with a sweet nurse who explained that I had not had the surgery planned. This should have been such bad news, meaning there was cancer outside the pelvic area and I could not be cured. The nurse knew that I needed to understand more and explained that they couldn't find enough cancer to make the Total Pelvic Exeneration necessary at this time. I felt so confused, almost frustrated. I suddenly saw my doctor and husband practically skipping down the hall with matching smiles from ear to ear. They stood at the side of my bed and confirmed what the nurse had said. The doctor told me I could go home shortly and I felt like I couldn't think straight. I had completely accepted and surrendered to the fact that I would awake with a different body and possibly a year until full recovery. We had an apartment rented in Houston and had prepared to be away from home at least a month. But, there was no need to stay. God performed a miracle! Instead of a huge incision I just had black marker indicating where they had planned to make incisions and do plastic surgery. I had two X cuts where the ostomy bags were to go, but no bags! The doctor had made no incision, but instead did a biopsy vaginally and actually waited for the results before moving forward....even though he disagreed that the biopsy was necessary at all! They ended up doing a vaginectomy surgery which should just take 6 weeks for full recovery. It was more than my mind could absorb then, and I believe it has taken me two months to try to absorb it post surgery as well. I've felt like I'm living on borrowed time. I got to see my nephew at the hospital not even 1 day old. I enjoyed planning and hosting my son's 10th birthday and 4th of July Cook-out. Through the generosity of another friend the kids and I had an expense free beach vacation. I enjoyed another nephew turning 9 years olf, and had time boating at the lake with family! I even rode on a tube with my sister!
God did allow my cancer diagnosis in November 2010 and all the ups and downs since then, but one thing is true...God has also been faithful to complete this journey with a true miracle. I started this journey needing to sing to Jesus or read about Him. I ended the journey with Him so close I could just reach out and take His hand and knew He was going to be in that operating room with me one way or the other. I have been given the gift of more precious life on earth, but the ultimate gift is eternal life!
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world." John 16:33
"For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16