A Life Changed forever...
And nothing would be the same again....
"You have cancer"
My heart sank and I felt like crawling under a rock and pretending that what my oncologist was saying was not true. I did not want to hear it or believe it. It could't be. I was a relatively healthy young woman, in the prime of my life. With dreams, desires and hopes that with that little phrase was seemingly on hold. Had been married for 7.5 years and a whole life ahead.
My journey had started the summer of 2004 when I discovered a little lesion. While it was annoying, I was not overly concerned because as quick as it appeared, it disappeared. However, in January 2005 it returned and within a couple months I knew this was something that was not normal.
For a bit of a back story, my husband and I were in the midst of our journey with infertility, and at this point it had been about 3.5 years of wondering, testing and thinking if we would ever be parents. We had a wonderful fertility specialist in Winnipeg, and at my April 2005 appointment I mentioned my concerns. He examined me and I will never forget the words out of his mouth, and the subsequent look of fear on my husband's face. "I want to send you to Cancer Care for a biopsy". That sentence scared me more than anything had ever to that point. After chatting a few moments, he placed his hand on my shoulder and said, "let's get this cleared up and then we can get that baby!"
Hope in midst of uncertainty was what I needed and what my husband and I needed. And God knew that. The compassion given to us that day set us up for the journey of the next 11 months. I remember crying in the car as we drove to tell my parents what was going on. Yet with tears there was hope. Hope given from hugs, prayers and words of encouragement. Two weeks after that appointment I had my biopsy and two weeks later (the longest two weeks of my entire life thus far) I was officially given the diagnosis with my mom by my side.
Stage 1 Squamous Cell cancer. A cancer seen typically in post menopausal, smoking women over 50 years of age. None of which I was. The youngest woman in the Province with this type of cancer(of course, leave it to me!). Yet, hope came in the words of the oncologist, "I am 95% sure we can get this with surgery only". Now, most doctors won't use numbers especially when talking about cancer. They don't want to give too much hope as cancer can be so unpredictable and they are afraid of giving false hope. So for this doctor to use numbers meant hope.
It was the time period between the diagnosis and surgery that gave me the most hope. My family and husband had organized a night of prayer on my behalf at my parents house. There was both Christians and non-Christians present, as some of my family are not believers. This was a time for prayer for healing, hope, peace and calm. It was shortly after this night, that I was often asked how I was staying calm in the midst of life changing news. Hope. Plain and simple. Hope in Him who created me and would carry me through, whatever His will was to me. I would trust in Him.
The beginning of June 2005 brought surgery to remove the cancer. It was successful and thankfully lymph node removable was not necessary. I spent the month of July recovering (and told my pathology reports showed zero cancer) and in August 2005 went back to work as an Early Childhood Educator at a city day care. From July on, I was to go for checks every three months. So in October 2005 and January 2006 I was given the news of all clears! Great news! In January, we also begin to see the fertility specialist as I was given the all clear to continue our journey to getting pregnant.\The next three months followed with tests, temperature taking, and charting to figure things out. Hope still remained even in uncertainty.
April 2006 I had appointments with both the oncologist and the fertility specialist. The morning appointment gave great news that there was no signs of cancer and I continued to heal nicely. The afternoon appoint was less joyful, finding out test results that indicated that my chances of conceiving was only 50% due to ovulation problems. So we left the doctors office a little sad, yet we had hope. Hope that his hand would be on us. And that He would guide us to what our hearts desired. Little did we know our answer would come later that day.
On the way home from the fertility office, I had complained to Art about not feeling great, being sore and just yucky feeling. In the course of discussion, we suspected perhaps I could be pregnant. We had been here before. Doing tests with hope and then having our hopes dashed. Over and over negative results would dash dreams, but not hope. We knew over the last 4.5 years that God hear our prayers and would answer them in His way, and in His time. And that day He did. We tested positive for a pregnancy on April 17th 2006. We were so surprised, I did two tests. Then we held each other and cried. Tears of joy, and then we laughed. We laughed not in disbelief but in the timing. We had literally just been at the fertility specialist, who did all the test but that one important one. After gaining composure we went over to my parents and told them the great news.
Answered prayers abounded. In 11 months I went from being diagnosed with cancer, to being healed and then getting pregnant with no medical intervention. Hope in uncertainty abounded. We went through the next few months with a typical pregnancy until my 29th week when due to a partial placental abruption, I needed to have an emergency c-section. This after only getting diagnosed with gestational diabetes three weeks earlier. Yet, despite uncertainty there remained Hope. After 8 weeks in NICU we finally brought our baby girl home! She was healthy, happy and we were a 3 person family. Hope was there in the hospital with each day our little girl grew and beat the odds. We decided that when Makayla Rose was a year old, we would start trying for another child. This time I got pregnant within two months of trying and in July 2008, Isabella Grace joined our family. That pregnancy was tough, and uncertain with with having insulin dependant gestational diabetes and gall stones. Yet Hope remained in the uncertainty.
Since 2007 our family has been dealt with much uncertainty and tough stuff. I have lost grandparents, two siblings, watched my parents marriage end, my husband's mom and niece passed away, as well as other relatives, and had our own marriage crisis. I was also diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. and now live with that on a daily basis. However, in spite of all that chaos, hurt, pain, and much uncertainty at times, Hope Remained. And Hope will remain.
I know that it is only because of my hope in Him who gives hope that my family and I have come through the last 13 years.
It has been hard, very hard at times, but still filled with Hope.
And finding joy in the everyday.
In laughter, hugs, words of encouragement, phone calls, hanging out with friends, snuggles with my girls, reading a good book, date nights, and resting in Him.
In the last 13 years, I have clung to my life verse:
Be Joyful in Hope
Patient in Tribulation
Constant in Prayer
With Mother's Day only a few days away, I am reminded of my journey to motherhood and think of those that have also struggled in their own journey's. I pray for those women who have lost babies before they had a chance to be born, who have never been pregnant or have lost their children, as well as those who are on the journey to adoption to be a mother. And I think of those who have lost their own mothers. Hope in Him, give Him your heart and He will carry you.
What a 13 years of Hope it has been and I look forward to seeing all that God has in store for me from this point on.