During the bouts of cancer diagnosis and treatments, Rachel writes e-mails to keep her friends and family updated on her thoughts and spiritual walk.
Me again. It’s been awhile – a wonderful while – but some have been asking how things are going and so here I am.
Back in November, I had my second stage reconstruction done which is a fancy way of saying “take out the tissue expanders and put in the implants.” The surgery went well and my recovery was easy – of course, everything’s relative at this stage. I just felt like I’d been in a car accident or something, bruised and achy for awhile. The recovery was only hampered by my stressing about the final product. “Neil! One’s bigger than the other! This one’s higher than the other one!” As he said to me, “Only you would get a Ferrari and notice the scuff on the bumper.” And he’s right. No one else can tell but I had these (unrealistic) expectations that a surgeon could do a better job than God. So they’re not perfect but they’re definitely better than nothing and better than I deserve as a 34-year old mother of two.
I have been feeling great. Getting better and better as the months go on. The crazy fatigue I had last year is mostly gone. I have some side effects from the Tamoxifen I take daily – mostly hot flashes, headaches and moodiness – which although annoying are manageable. My ability to prioritize and multi-task has been dramatically diminished since chemo – a frustrating side effect on the few brain cells I do have. To compensate I try to take things more slowly and make a LOT of lists. My only “real” complaint is that I seem doomed to another year or so of bad hair days.
I have another surgery scheduled for this Friday. A hysterectomy. My cancer was genetic (BRCA2 for those medically inclined), we discovered, and so my risk for ovarian cancer is higher. When I was told that my cancer was genetic and that they recommended a hysterectomy I wasn’t too keen to do more surgery. In my mind I was done treatment. I wanted to move on. But ovarian cancer is hard to screen for – almost impossible, actually. So when you do discover it, it is often advanced. Stupid cancer. Anyway, we decided to go ahead with the surgery and I am scheduled for the 24th. I’m a bit more emotional about this one strangely (at least strangely to me). I would have thought, being as vain as I am, that the mastectomies would have been the more difficult surgery emotionally but I didn’t really care. This time around I think I’m still sad about being finished having kids and that I’ll be thrust into menopause.
Added to that, I got a little freaked out after my pre-admitting phone appointment last Monday as I realized that this is a bit of a bigger deal than I had allowed myself to think. So I started surfing the internet – which, I can tell you, isn’t always a good idea when you’re about to lose body parts and embark on a hormone-induced emotional roller coaster – but even so it gave me a more realistic picture of what I’m about to face. Needless to say, there isn’t much “upside” to surgical menopause aside from the motivating desire to avoid more cancer.
I was struggling with feelings of fear and anxiety when I was reminded that these are the circumstances that God has chosen for me. None of this is (or has been) an annoying circumstance to merely endure. He means it for good. To make me more like Him. And so I should not complain. Or fear. Or worry. As Spurgeon said, “Unerring wisdom ordained your lot, and selected for you the safest and best condition. Remember this, had any other condition been better for you than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there. You are placed by God in the most suitable circumstances. Be content with such things as you have, since the Lord has ordered all things for your good.”
And it’s true. So I have peace. And, even more, I am grateful that He cares enough to give me circumstances that will show me how truly dependent I am upon Him. Because although I like people to think that I’ve got it all together, the reality is different. Much different. The reality is that I am weak. And my little “I’ve-got-it-all-together” facade is going to show (more) cracks over the coming weeks and months…but that’s a good thing.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Cor. 12.9
My weakness. His power. That is such good news. It is the good news.