Tuesday, September 18, 2007

AND JUST WHEN WE WERE NOT LOOKING...

Cancer.

CANCER.

It's cancer.

Why…cancer?

WHY???

We've had a just over a month to prepare for the diagnosis. We were given the percentages. The doctors said there was a 98% chance the tumor was malignant. We were hoping and praying for the 2% chance it was benign.

We found out yesterday that the bigger percentage was bigger for a reason.

Eighty-five-years-old. My grandmother has been on this earth for 85 years. During this time, she has been healthy. She has rarely even had a cold.

Now she has cancer.

Simply typing it is hard.
Saying it out loud is even harder.

Breast cancer.

There is no family history of breast cancer. Of course, Grandma pretty much IS the family history. I’m guessing that breast cancer was not even detectable when her relatives were still alive.

I can’t really put a definitive label on my feelings right now.

I do know that I AM NOT angry with God. Grandma is 85! We can celebrate her life. We can celebrate that she has been healthy for 85 years. We can celebrate that she still has an amazing memory and is FULL of wonderful stories to share with us. We can celebrate that she has such a positive outlook on life in general, including her diagnosis. We can celebrate that she got to raise her children. We can celebrate that her grandchildren know her...even her great-grandchildren know her.

I do know that I AM sad. I am sad that there is cancer in this world. I am sad that there are so many people affected by this terrible disease in one way or another. I am sad that my grandma will have to experience any sort of worry over the next week as she prepares for surgery. I am sad that there are still more tests to run to see if the cancer has spread elsewhere. I am sad that my mom is feeling guilty for not knowing. How could she know??? I am sad that I did not know. She came and stayed with me for a week, and I did not notice anything out of the ordinary. I am sad that she will experience physical pain after the surgery. I am sad that she will experience sickness from the treatments. I am sad that my children have to know that their great-grandmother is sick. I am sad that Tornado is concerned about not finishing the big interview. I am sad when the thought creeps into my head that...she might not beat this.

And yet...I find a reasons to laugh and smile about the whole situation. I smile when I think about what happened after her biopsy. She put back on her shirt and said, "OK, now take me to Wal-mart!" I can't help but chuckle when I think about how the doctor asked this 85-year-old woman if she wanted to try and save her breasts. I think she got a chuckle out of that, too. I laugh out loud when I think about her telling me a couple of weeks ago that she had gotten an "angiogram" on the day she had a "mammogram". I have a smile, albeit a sad one, when I think about her positivity...when I think about her happy demeanor...when I think about how she unexpectedly got to stay with us for several days before we knew she was sick...when I think about that precious irreplaceable interview.

And finally...I am worried. Worry - I confess - is my biggest struggle. This past weekend I attended a women's workshop at church. We were told about a study that was done in which it was determined that the human brain is not able to worry and give thanks at the same time. Try it. I tested the theory and personally cannot do it. I cannot give thanks for something at the same time my thoughts are worrisome. Twice in the New Testament of the Bible we are asked, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" This exact verse is found in Matthew 6:27 AND Luke12:25, so maybe God was trying to tell us that this message is important - important enough to tell us...TWICE! We are also twice reminded "...do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear..." in Matthew 6:25 and in Luke 12:22. Finally, in Matthew 6:34, it says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." I think God is trying to tell us "DO NOT WORRY! I know your needs, My child. I will take care of you."

Easier said than done - right? I am worried about the obvious, the short-term. I am worried that the surgery will be too much for her tiny body to withstand. I am worried about the doctors having to give her enough drugs to put her to sleep before the surgery. I am worried about how much weight she might lose during the treatments. She doesn't have much weight in the first place. Then, of course, I am worried about the less obvious, or the long-term. It's breast cancer. Now it is most assuredly in our family history. Finally, I am worried about that thought that keeps creeping into my head...she might not beat this. And that opens the floodgates of regret. Did I spend enough time with her? Did I give her the attention she deserved? Did I appreciate her enough? Did I take in everything that she has to offer as one who has fully experienced life and all its tragedies, as well as all of its wonder? I think that the answer is "yes" to all of the above. However, it is easy to doubt...easy to worry...when you are faced with those questions.

For now, I am choosing to be thankful. I am thankful that I got to spend time with my grandmother recently. I am thankful that we have a close family. I am thankful that I have great friends. I am thankful that we captured a portion of her life on videotape. I am thankful that she walks in the Light. I am thankful that we have a God who loves us and has a plan for each of us. I am thankful.

What are your thoughts on breast cancer?
How has cancer affected you?
How did you deal with the illness of a loved one?

If you are a blogging person, I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you are a praying person, I'd love for my grandmother to have your prayers.

I do believe that God answers prayers. It may not always be the answer we want to hear, but God does answer prayer.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him." Ecclesiastes 3:1-14


9 comments:

:: Suzanne :: said...

oh I'm sorry for your sadness. She is 85 though and that is something to be thanking the Lord for. THANK YOU LORD that she got to live 85 years without a major medical problem. That was God's gift to your family. Cancer, illness, death, sorrow - that is life on earth, or, as CS Lewis would put it, life in enemy-occupied territory. That she has been shielded thus far is the mercy of the Lord. Rejoice in that.

(This from a woman who thanks the Lord everyday that her Dad is a paraplegic. And that he is not a corpse.)

Best,

Suzanne

Kathy in WA said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your grandmother. What a precious thing that she has lived such a full and healthy life.

The information about the brain being unable to give thanks and worry at the same time was fascinating!

Praying for your grandmother.

Duckabush Blog

Melissa Markham said...

My husband's grandmother passed away a year ago. She also had breast cancer. Her had been growing for many, many years but had gone undetected. She lived for over a year after she was diagnosed and all except the last month, she continued to live on her own in her farmhouse.

It is a tough thing to go through, but as you said, you have much to be thankful for. God bless.

Activities Coordinator said...

My Grandmother passed away when I was I expecting our second child and in between my written and oral comps for my masters. It was a horrible time and my thoughts and prayers are with you and for her.

My Grandmother's paster told me at her funeral, "She walked with the Lord." It gave me a comfort I hadn't had until then so now I'll give it to you. Her future is bright. That is what you need to hold on to.

T with Honey said...

My prayers are with you and your family.

But I also wanted to give you some other encouragement and hope.
My husband's grandmother beat breast cancer in her late 70s and is still around almost 10 years later to play with her great-granddaughter. Have no regrets about the past. You can't change that. Just make the best of the time going forward.

Andie said...

I'm so sorry you and your grandma have to deal with this. But I'm so thankful that you can be thankful for the 85 years she has already lived, loved, and enjoyed. My grandmother had a tumor removed a few years ago, and it has not come back, yet. I pray your grandmother lives, laughs, and loves every single day that God gives her here on earth.

I would be happy to email you the "routine charts" that I made for my kiddos. Just email me, and I'll send them to you (or at least attempt to!)
aprochnow@hotmail.com

Blessings-Andie

Stacey said...

First of all thank you for posting a comment on my blog. :)

I'm very sorry that your grandmother has cancer. I chuckled while reading her comments. She sounds like she has a lot of spunk and that is just what she needs right now. My mother is a two-time breast cancer survivor and I worried about her not being around to see me get married and have children. Now it has been almost 20 years since her first mastectomy and she is still going strong!

Your grandmother,you and your family will be in my prayers. God bless!

SAHMmy Says said...

We'll be praying for your Grandma! A family member's illness is so hard to deal with, no matter what their age. Thank you for sharing your trial with us.

Mrs. Brownstone said...

Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, support, and kind words. I sincerely appreciate it.

My grandma is a fighter and has the most positive attitude and spirit. She has led an incredible life, and we are so thankful that we've had a healthy grandmother for so many years.

Thank you all again.
~ Mrs. Brownstone