My son, David, was 7 days old when the call from the doctor came with My husband, John’s, final diagnoses. The latest and deepest biopsy confirmed what we had begun to suspect. It was cancer. As I hung up the phone, all I could think or say was, “Don’t let him die on me.” Then I burst into uncontrollable tears. Fortunately, my mother who was visiting and a friend were there with me when the call came.
We had a choice to make. Either stay with the local doctors or go to a specialist in Houston, TX, which was 7 hours away. We decided on the specialist. David was 15 days old, John, my mother, David and I headed out to MD Anderson Cancer Center to start the fight of our lives.
After long endless waits to see different doctors, get blood work, and the other tests needed, we got the final results. The doctors told us they did not know whether it was Hodgkins or non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma so they would need to treat John for both. Hodgkins has a 95% cure rate but Hodgkins is 50%. They told us the tumor was wrapping itself around the vena cava, the main artery from the heart to the brain, and if the doctors could not stop its growth, it would pop John’s heart. Since the cancer was quick growing, there was an urgency to start radiation immediately. After the radiation, chemotherapy would begin. Then at the close, we were told we may not be able to have anymore children because of their uncertainty of what the lasting affect of chemotherapy would be.
My husband had his first week of radiation treatments before we left for home. Then he made the other 7 weeks of traveling back and forth to Houston for 5 days of radiation by himself. Then came the chemotherapy after a three-week break for Christmas. The chemo was given every week for a year and a half at our local hospital.
During all of this, I learned to draw from strength deep within me that I didn’t know I had until I needed it. God’s revealed strength helped me to be what my husband and child needed throughout the crisis. I learned how to keep my eyes focused on God so my faith in His sovereignty would not waver very far. I learned faith in His provisions as I watched God meet every one of our needs.
At some point, I final got the courage to ask God the question that loomed over my heart, “Lord, Is John going to die?”
He answered in my heart with this, “No matter what happens, I’ll help you through.”
In other words, I was going to have to trust Him through the whole process no matter what the outcome.
Then, ten years later, John started having trouble getting his breath and tiredness. The doctors found out one of John’s heart valves was defective and he would have to have surgery. We decided to go back to Houston to see a cardiologist and to be near his other doctors. The cardiologist scheduled surgery with the best he knew of in the area.
The night before the surgery, I knelt down beside my motel bed and prayed this prayer, “Whether John comes through the surgery or not is not my call. That is for you and John to decide but you already know what I want. I leave it in Your capable hands.” Believe it or not I slept soundly until the alarm rang.
The surgery went well and the doctors thought after a time of recovery, John would be fine. As the weeks and months went by, John was not getting stronger. Then, the doctors realized John was loosing heart function. John’s heart was wearing out and there was nothing else they could do except to keep John comfortable until the end.
After John’s death, I started to realize all the things God had done to prepare me for this new life. In that ten-year interval, God had inspired me to renew my teaching certificate so I could find employment, gave me a strong yearning to move back home, 750 miles away and worked on fears and self-esteem issues so I would be strong for my children and the challenges ahead. God had also given me scriptures and stories from different sources that spoke directly to my situation. I was amazed how God had connected all the dots for my future.
It’s been 20 years now. I have learned by trial and error and asking a lot of questions even if they were dumb. I talked to God about everything and he gave me insight. God gave me the hope to continue on when I wanted to give up. After 20 year, God has truly become my first love, my protector, and my friend.
Are you going through "pain-filled" times? Allow God strengthen your heart and fill you with His hope for a brighter tomorrow.
Mary Jane Downs is a speaker, teacher, and writer of poems, short stories, devotionals and children’s stories. She has been published in Awe Magazine, InspiredMoms.com, Writer’s Advance! Boot Camp blog, Schoolbox.com, The Muffin Blog and has judged the weekly writer’s contests for Faithwriters.com. Mary Jane was recently published in a book called Pearls of Promise. Mary Jane’s also writes a weekly inspirational blog, “Joy in the Morning”, which can be found at www.maryjanewrites.com. Contact Mary Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org.