Trials are a natural part of life.
Whether you are faced with a family tragedy, a broken heart from a first love, addiction, terminal disease, or financial stress, we all will experience it at some point in our life. Though, the question is how will you respond? As I ponder this, my thoughts are drawn to a pivotal and very trying time in my life.
In February of 2009, my Dad called to share the news that my mother had been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer.
I remember the feeling of disbelief and dread that coincided with nausea. I remember thinking “What? How? She is healthy and active!” My Dad assured me they caught it very early and that things were not as serious as my rapidly running emotions and thoughts made it out to be. She had decided on a double mastectomy with reconstructive surgery.
As we anxiously sat in the waiting room at the hospital, the surgeon finally called my Dad aside. I distinctly remember the hopefulness in my Dad’s eyes as he continued to share how the surgery went. Come to find out, the cancer had spread to many of my mother’s lymph nodes, immediately moving her cancer up to stage 2 and causing issues for reconstruction.
A week after her surgery, the bad news just kept coming. We were told that she had a very rare form of breast cancer called Triple-Negative that did not respond to any of the normal breast cancer drugs. The only way to fight this form of breast cancer was to treat it through the most potent form of chemo. Many patients taking this form of chemo were never able to finish because of the dire side effects. However, my mother was up for the challenge.
She began her 6 months of chemo, followed with 36 radiation treatments. Her first chemo treatment landed her in the hospital, but after that she knew what to expect and was better prepared. What she wasn’t prepared for was the loss of her hair. I remember every detail of the day that my husband and I shaved my mother’s head. It was a bright and sunny day, such a contrast to the mood on the porch of the house. She couldn’t take the globs of hair falling out anymore so she asked if my husband would bring his clippers. We decided to make it more of a ceremony to mask the cloud of despair hanging over all of our heads. In attendance were my Dad, my husband, my Mother’s best friends and myself.
As the buzzing sound of the clippers filled the air, I watched as the silent tears fell from my mother’s eyes in unison with her locks of brown hair. My heart ached and I internally cried out to God to give us all peace and rid her of this horrible disease. I continued to pray that I would never have to experience this again.
As the year passed, I watched my mother get incredibly sick. But I never witnessed my mother angry with God, angry with the doctors, or succumb to her disease. She went on with her life, continued to work when she could, participated in her church activities, and even went on vacation to Washington, D.C. She continued to give glory to God and had an incredible impact on so many others as they watched her lead a life of faith even through the unknown.
I am truly blessed to have a Mother who continues to be an example of grace, love, courage, and unfaltering faith, even during a time in her life where she didn’t know if she would live or die.
As I think about this, I am drawn to the sad realization that most of the women and girls we serve have never had a mother or father who were positive examples in their life.
They haven’t been exposed to strength, love, grace, or true faith in God. They haven’t had arms of comfort wrapped around them during times in their life that were hard, lonely and cold. Most of our women and girls haven’t been exposed to parents who exemplified the unfailing love of Christ. So, it’s up to us to show them that even when they go through trials, God is walking with them. He has a life planned for them that is abundant beyond their imagination. Our organization as a whole must be the ones who accept the “parenting” role and lead by example for the survivors, especially during life’s trials.
**In February of 2010, my mother was declared cancer free and has continued stay cancer free over the past three years. Glory to God!