It is unfortunate a month goes by and the words and motions that I have gone through are trapped underneath the blankets of every smile, kind gesture, innocent prayer, loving embrace, and unimaginable compassion given to us by so many. Perhaps trapped is not the best word to use, but these very things have indeed been stored deep inside my heart, protecting, encouraging, and equipping me. There have been hours in which I have had Mahalia Jackson playing throughout my house while sobbing at the kitchen sink. There have been moments when in the shower I have burst out in tongues, praising God for His goodness despite not understanding the reports or the results in our hands. As I have layed on the hard tiles of our floor, and stared aimlessly, praying my children to never find me in such a place of vulnerability, absolute loss, or in a state of complete devastation. There have been times of such darkness in which I prayed for the Rescuer to rescue, the One who guides to just guide.
It was July 24th, exactly four months ago we found out it was cancer and three weeks later told it was not only a large mass in the colon, but had spread to the liver and the lungs making it stage IV colon cancer.
After getting off the phone with our naturopath, I stared out the kitchen window and realized that life was going to be forever different. A movie I would have turned off or a television show I would have switched. In life, we can’t turn it off nor can we switch it. We just do it. As I looked down at my hands, I took a mental photograph of them, for they were going to experience a new way of life, as well. Chopping, juicing, beet and carrot stained side effects, only one in a place of transition can get. Sean came down the stairs and I looked at him from the kitchen sink and told him what Mrs. Ewing had said. She said, “Until we are able to see him, juice vegetables, minimum fruits, mostly greens, go vegan, stay away from sugar and anything processed.”
Morning juice, afternoon juice, snack juice, dinner juice, evening juice, something just because juice, we juiced like crazy the first three months. Sean began to lose weight, but this was solely because he was no longer stopping off at Tim Hortons for a large double-double with Timbits or at the 7 eleven for a Coke is it and a package of superior Joe Louie’s. His skin began to clear, his energy levels completely changed, and his eye whites were whiter than I had ever seen them to be. He began to grow hair on his face, which was thick and bristly, and hair began to grow thick on his legs and lower back. What was happening? In absolute amazement of these sudden changes taking place in his body in only two months, we thought for sure his body was on the road to healing. We met with the cancer clinic oncologist who didn’t seem too concerned about his new found energy, happy spirit, or furry body, but more interested in getting him on the highest dose of chemotherapy right away and having an appointment to have a port put in his body. Two years. With chemo, he would only have two years. Um. This didn’t really seem to make any sense to me. Was I sad? No. In shock? No. I believed God was in control and leading us somewhere, but not too sure of where. We told the oncologist we were going to be doing an integrated approach with natural medicines as well. He right away shook his head and couldn’t understand why we would spend such money on things not proven to help extend a person’s life, when all the chemo and drugs were free. After much more blood work, Sean’s numbers were showing the cancer was aggressive and the doctor from Integrated Health phoned recommending he begin the vitamin C Intravenous treatments that day, so he did.
September 22nd Sean had his port installed. It was a crazy day. I remember feeling queasy about what was going to be surgically placed in his body. To this day, I still have no idea what it looks like or how it functions, because just the thought of it causes my legs to go numb and I want to faint. SO….the next day was his three hour stint of chemo. He was quite sick and vomited throughout the process, while a woman beside him having chemo too ate a chocolate bar. Sean walked home to a mess. A dishwasher was being installed and one problem after the next, the kind gentleman didn’t leave our house until quite late. We ended up ordering in food. Sean was able to eat toast and miso soup, but weakly made his way up to our room to sleep with his chemo baxter bottle hooked up to him, pumping faithfully every hour into his body. The next few days were absolutely insane, no in fact, the next few weeks were the most difficult I have ever endured. Do I remember them? Yes. I have a photographic memory, but what my memory chooses to remember is another thing. I remember the mouth like Cameron Diaz’s on the “substitute” doctor as she showed kindness to Sean when after two rounds of chemo saying she recommends he takes a break from chemo to get his mind right. He was unrecognizable spiritually to me and emotionally. Physically he was my corpse husband barely holding on to anything, but the blanket around his body. I remember the smell of the hospital entrance and the hand sanitizer that only draws be back to any previous times of entering a hospital and the nameless faces of those of hopelessness waiting in the room with us, as if we were all cattle going in for the slaughter. I remember the sounds of my shoes walking in the changing of the season. The dewy sound of my distressed oxfords as they hit the pavement and the squishing of soggy leaves that had fallen from the night before. The driest summer to be recorded, fall was welcomed with a faint embrace. My sister and I had joked how it was such a summer of sadness and shortly before hand Sean had preached that last year was such a time of death for us, with so many loved ones passing, that this year was going to be a year of life. I began to question this with his diagnosis. However four months later, we have experienced more life than we have ever in the last 10 years we have been married. There has been a unity in which man made strength could not possess. We have been blessed by a community we have loved, but have never known how love expresses itself in such a mosaic kind of way. The love of God, the love of man, the love of a brother, a sister, a stranger, has reshaped our whole way of thought and existence. This love is bringing life and healing in areas where there was no life or health. After one bad report of the next, I began to wonder if I was experiencing -on an incredibly small scale-post-traumatic stress disorder. I could not handle one more report; I could not face whispering one more prayer of hope, or anticipating the words that were going to spill out of the doctor’s mouth after he took a deep breath with a report of some sort of Sean’s in his hands giving a finite prediction of his timeline. I really couldn’t handle the thoughts that raced through my head and swallowed me whole as I drowned in endless negative reports and contradictions of what I believed to be truth.
But Jesus, He does things in ways that benefits us and gives Him the glory. There has been a mirage of events, God happen chances in the last months in which I am endeavoring to record, for it is important for us to not forget His benefits, however the decisions we have chosen together to make, make sense for us. We are seeing results that are bringing hope and faith and our belief still remains the same, that there is a bigger picture. What that looks like, we don’t know yet, however, what we do know, is God’s hand is at work and we continue to remain His humble servants doing all things unto Him. His promise says when we go through deep waters, He will be with us. As we go through rivers of difficulty, we will not drown. When we walk through the fire of oppression, we will not be burned up; the flames will not consume us.