What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
- Micah 6:8
Some of you know my story because you were there with me. Some because you came along later and heard me tell it. Some may just be reading about it for the first time. It’s not an unknown story. Many have a similar one. But I feel that my story is one of a miracle that must be shared. And it is a story that continues today, more than 10 years later.
It started in 2007 with a routine physical that referred me to an ultrasound that led me to a surgeon. It was the surgeon who first used the words “breast cancer.” As I lay on the examining table, being prepped for the first of several biopsies, I was surrounded by nurses and technicians who explained what would occur. They were nice, and spoke in calm, routine voices. A medical assistant stood by the table and held my hand. She talked to me as if we were friends. Knowing where I worked, she asked about mutual acquaintances.
I was surrounded by caring strangers, yet I felt disconnected. However, I had a sense of peace and comfort. The words from Psalm 46:10 were brought to mind: “Be still and know that I am God.” And somehow, I knew that everything was going to be alright.
I had surgery in November, followed by four rounds of adjuvant chemotherapy. I then underwent radiation treatment. It was during chemotherapy that I took the California bar exam and participated in my law school graduation. Having completed that major milestone I could not imagine what would come after I finished my treatments, but I knew I had a purpose.
Romans 8:28 speaks directly to what I know is God’s work for my life: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” At the time I hoped that I would pass the bar exam on my first attempt (I did pass the bar exam the second time I took it) and go on to big things in both my career and this story about a woman who had survived breast cancer.
However, while I was undergoing radiation treatments my mother called to tell me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I had the privilege of helping her navigate all that meant for her. While our cancers were very different, the trials of understanding the diagnosis and undergoing treatment are daunting. I am happy to report that we are both 10 years cancer-free.
But my story did not end there. In 2013 I became involved with transporting a friend’s mother to cancer treatment. She had a recurrence of breast cancer that had metastasized. Linda became part of my life when I helped take to her Boston for radiation treatments for the tumors on her brain. She became my friend, and we became companions as I routinely took her into Boston for chemotherapy in 2014. She passed away in March, 2015. Her death was a heartbreak like I’ve never experienced before. And yes, I would do it all again.
After Linda’s death I wondered what God would put in front of me. I call it “my next yes.” My experiences in the past three years have taken me in directions I never would have imagined. Upon reflection I realize that God has allowed me to continue to care for others who are dealing with cancer. I will admit that my heart breaks a bit each time a friend reaches out and asks, “Can I call you?” My answer is always yes. Yes you can.
You see, my story isn’t over. It did not end the day I finished treatment. Nor did it end when I reached my 10-year mark and I graduated from oncology. God’s story for my life is more than I could ever have imagined. My story is one of “yes.”
If you enjoy my blog and would like to follow me on Facebook, I can be found at The Reluctant Survivor. And on Twitter @relucsurvivor.