Things That Matter In the Face of Cancer: Part One

 

This is the third Scarred Joy post related to what I call “things that matter.” The first two titles are “Jerry: A Reflection On Things That Matter!” and “Scarred Christmas and Things That Matter!”

If you are a regular reader of Scarred Joy you know the blog is devoted to posts that are real and often not emotionally easy to read. If a reader wants to read warm and fuzzy content that puts a goofy grin on one’s face, you will probably not find it in Scarred Joy. It isn’t that I want to have readers walk through life seeing doom and gloom all around. It is, however, a goal of Scarred Joy to encourage readers to face up to the honest reality that pain and suffering are part of life. That is not easy to bear.

In this post I want to carry on with the theme of “things that matter” but with a more personal approach. This post captures the journey of my wife’s present experience with cancer. I am coming alongside her and assuring her she is not going through this alone. With this being an ongoing journey this is the first part of a series.

“There is never an easy way to give this news. The biopsy did reveal cancer.” That is news a gynecologist gave to my wife recently at a follow up visit from her biopsy. I was sitting with her at the time and heard the news. The news assailed my heart and mind.

I have had some intense emotional moments as I processed the reality of cancer violating my wife’s body. It is news I cannot run from. She can’t, therefore I can’t. Although the cancer that has shown in her body is a non-aggressive type the initial shock of the news left its scar.

With cancer, or I’m sure any similar health challenge, it is not just a physical threat to one’s personhood. Cancer can mess with one’s mind. Even a “non-aggressive” cancer may cause some fear. That is the “scar” I am talking about.

With fear there is also hope. That is what keeps us going. Hope is within us. Hope is essential to our faith in God and in moving forward. This hope stems from my wife’s specialist saying the surgery she will have “usually” has good results. Specifically it is often the only treatment needed to combat this non-aggressive type of cancer. It is still cancer, however.

Since we began to inform people of this news a number have said for us to contact them if there is anything they can do. What can anyone do? What does it mean when people, who are definitely well intentioned, say for us to contact them if there is anything they can do? We are heading into uncharted territory for us. What do I ask people to do? I just don’t know how to respond to them. On the other hand, I appreciate their concern and desire to support us.

Here is an alternative to the above. We would welcome it if someone offered something specific in his or her desire to support us. Something as simple as asking us out for coffee would help. It would encourage us that someone cared enough to offer to sit with us for a while. For instance, our daughter and son-in-law took Terry and I out for an evening. She had said, “if you don’t have plans on Friday evening we would like to take you out.” We were treated to dinner and a movie. What we had for dinner or what movie we saw didn’t matter. It was just being together for a few hours that mattered and is what we will remember.

You see, the companionship of caring people is a treasure. It is something that matters. Caring people are those who may check in on us regularly and who may pray for us. Caring people are also those who reach out to us through not only words but also deeds. The deeds may be as simple a phone call or email or Facebook message asking how we are doing. I guess it isn’t really the deed it is the care that motivates it.

Scarred Joy means that in the pain and suffering in life there is hope. It isn’t always easy to realize hope but it is there. Hope matters! Without hope we allow cancer to win and that is not an option.

I saw a post on Facebook recently. It said, “I wish cancer got cancer, and died.” I get that!

Until next time my friends. Hold your loved ones close.

Please do me the honour of leaving a comment after reading this post!

16 thoughts on “Things That Matter In the Face of Cancer: Part One

  1. Pray. Keep you in their thoughts. Not hide. Still be your friend. Those are things you can ask people to do for you. “What can I do to help?”, is so well intentioned, but filler when they don’t know what to say after “I’m so sorry.”

    I had so many friends disappear when I was diagnosed. They got scared. I was too much like them and it made it far too real. 36, a mom of a 2 year old and infant and about to lose my right kidney to cancer. Way too close to home for my peer group. I know your daughter and will keep you in my prayers.

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    1. Hello my young friend! Yes, people become aware of their own mortality when serious illness gets close. I appreciate so much that you took time to read my blog and also make a beautiful and brave comment. I trust we can keep in touch. Blessings and love to you! 🙂

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  2. Cancer affects so many in our society so I think it’s awesome you want to bring it out in the raw form. And encourage dialogue…so many hate to speak of it but yet so many can truly relate

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    1. We don’t have to look too far to meet someone familiar with cancer. The very word strikes fear in so many people. There is always hope of some kind to help those hit by cancer. This often comes in the form of loving people eager to help in some way. We don’t have to be alone.

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  3. My heart goes out to you both, I’ve walked this road with my mother, step father and both brothers. It is not an easy road. Hang on to hope, hope is a game changer for sure. I’ve seen it in people, the way their bodies responded and the quality of life made possible because of hope. You both have lovely big smiles, the happy thoughts behind the smiles will help too. I am praying for a good outcome for you.

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    1. Thank you for highlighting the significance of hope. It is indeed a “game changer.” Unfortunately you can readily relate to this journey. It reminds us that we do not walk this part of our journey on our own. Thank you so very much or taking the time to encourage us.

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  4. When my mother first got cancer at 36 I was 16 and left at home to care for my two younger sisters (with an abusive father) when she had to stay in the city for treatments. I recall vividly how overwhelmed I was. Nobody reached out to me in any sort of personal way. Not even to say ‘I’m sorry.’ But what I really wanted was for our neighbors and Christian women from our church to offer to cook some meals but instead they left books on healing on our doorstep. That is what I came home from school to find. I was angry and lost and alone and only sixteen. It does seem that a lot of people have become more sensitive to cancer and the effects on the whole family since then, but I’m sure many still face it mostly alone. I hope that those within your close circle draw closer to you during this time and those of us farther out, but still in your online circle will also find ways to show we care. It seems like during such a vulnerable time we are so much more aware of how we are treated but we really aren’t asking for much. We simply want it to feel ‘real’ and ‘there’, not fake and distant. Love and prayers to you both.

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    1. Hi Gloria! To think of a sixteen year old girl being left to care for younger sisters is sad. The misplaced support of your church is not impressive. I sense, however, your empathy and love for people comes through in your words. Yes, I agree it seems more people are sensitive to the hurts of others. My Terry and I already appreciate the care some have shown to us. Jan. 9 is the date of her surgery. We feel anxious to have the surgery over with. We sincerely appreciate your love and prayers my friend.

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  5. Alan you said it all!!! I wish I was closer so we could go have coffee! You are both in my thoughts and prayers and you both seem like such positive thoughtful people I really feel your beautiful wife is going to get through this!!! Sending good thoughts and prayers to you both!!! Your friend, JoAnn Carpenter

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    1. Hello JoAnn! Thank you so much for commenting on my post my dear friend. Yes, it would be great to have a coffee chat together. Terry and I are positive and hopeful she will do well. We are just anxious to have her surgery over with. I will say more about this part of our journey in my next post.
      I sincerely thank you for your prayers my friend. Blessings on you! 🙂

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      1. How I identify with your journey! Your comment about hope made me think of the song that came into our cantata–Hope at Christmas– several times. One verse goes like this: Hope is a present
        A gift freely given
        To all who receive
        And open their hearts.
        Hope is a promise
        For a better tomorrow
        In a world filled with sorrow
        We always have hope.
        I liked that you gave some suggestions of things people can offer. I’ll never forget how one couple gave us fifty dollars to help with the cost of parking at the hospital. The offer to share a meal or go out for an evening is so welcome too. I’m a little too far away for that, but you are in my prayers.

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      2. Hi Ruth! I appreciate you taking the time to comment. Yes, I know people are well meaning but often it is up to the griever or hurting family to initiate assistance or help. I’m suggesting or reccomending that people reach out to the hurting one or family. Prayer is definitely welcome. We continually hope for God’s comfort and the support of caring people. Many have already said they are praying for Terry. Others are helping out in practical ways.

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  6. Allen, my heart cries for both you and Terry. I know what the words and waiting does to your thinking, and I also know what it’s like to support your spouse as they deal with cancer. Of the two roles, I found being a support was the most difficult. I’m glad you both know the giver of Hope, who holds your hands.
    One of the things that meant a lot to me was when friends and family shared with me Scripture or songs. Not ones that were filled with promises, but those that reminded me God was in control and loved us. Like “Even if.”
    I do wish we could visit over a coffee and I could give Terry a hug.
    Thanks for writing about your journey. I know it will help you as well as your readers. May God give you comfort and peace through this Christmas season as you wait.

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    1. Hi Marnie! I have sat with many people over the years who were in the healthcare waiting game. I’ve held a lot of hands just to offer some emotional comfort to a worried and anxious heart.
      Something that is helping us is at least we have a date for Terry’s surgery. The days also seem to go by fast. In some way that helps. On the other hand, is the fact she has to have surgery because of cancer. Certainly the doc said it is not an aggressive type, but to me it is still cancer. This is Terry’s second type of cancer over the years. I don’t know what it feels like to have cancer. I do know what it feels like to love someone dear who has cancer. Just writing the word saddens me.
      Yes, we know who holds our hands. God’s Words reminds us that we suffer diverse trials yet there is joy. To me, at least, I don’t view this joy as a goofy happiness or giddiness as if cancer doesn’t matter and is no big deal. It does remind me that with this joy is a sense of peace. We don’t understand this peace but we rest in it.
      Yes, sitting with you and Wally over coffee would be great. The hug would be too! We are so thankful for your support and that of many other people.
      Terry is doing well. She has resigned herself to the fact she has cancer. She is also encouraged that her doc is hopeful for her to have a full recovery. I rest in that with. For now we take one day at a time. There is no other option.
      We look forward to Christmas with our family, our church and some friends.
      Blessings and hugs to you and Wally! 🙂

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  7. Hi Allan! Thanks for sharing this journey with us. Cancer is such a dreadful word. The mere mention of it brings sadness because it’s one of those things that knows know barriers. We tend to think the worst the moment we here it. Thankfully, you and Terry have Jesus at the center of your lives and no matter what mountain you have to climb you know that he is right there with you. Know that I am praying for both of you every step of the way, my friend.

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    1. Hi Vickie! You are right about the word cancer. Fear and sadness seems to be built in the the response of most people. I recognize my humanness as I process the fact my wife has cancer. I certainly experienced fear and sadness as part of my response. Our faith in God has not lessened in spite of cancer.

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