This morning I read Psalm 25 and I lamented. I wept. I begged God for a heart of trust and waiting in my constant affliction. And I begged Him for good results today as I went into my oncologist appointment. I used the words of Charles Spurgeon, that God would “hear my distress” and “make His suppliant whole.”
A couple weeks ago, my oncologist checked my tumor markers and they were still rising despite a CT scan that showed no progression and a clean biopsy of a questionable spot, so she ordered a PET scan for me to check on a deeper level (a metabolic level) to see if they could find anything. Fortunately, our insurance company approved it and I was able to have the PET scan last Thursday.
Shaking her head when she came in the exam room, my doctor said, “I’ve been talking about you,” and I saw written notes all over the PET results. “All the radiologists recognize your name,” she said, “Yours is such a tricky case.” Sadly, friends, the news is not good. The cancer has spread and there is metastasis in my abdomen, technically in my peritoneum (which is the membrane lining of the abdomen and pelvis). She is starting me on a different chemo regimen next week on a newer chemo that has been shown to be effective with metastatic breast cancer.
Devastation is an understatement, and I am struggling with a feeling of hopelessness with treatment and working through yet again the acceptance of living with incurable cancer. It is hard to live this tenuous life knowing there is a monster inside of me that’s mind is set on killing me, and I weary of the fight.
In his book, Rejoicing in Lament, J. Todd Billings describes the feeling so well, the thick fog of uncertainty, when he writes about Psalm 31 (“You have set my feet in a spacious place.”:
“One thing about the experience of being diagnosed with cancer is that it feels like a narrowing, a tightening, rather than ‘a spacious place’ to dwell. We all know, in theory, that we are mortal, but in day-to-day life many of us don’t live with the thought… in being diagnosed with a disease that makes the prospect of life in the future uncertain, there is a narrowing that takes place. It feels a bit like the lights in distant rooms are turning off or, rather, flickering. They were rooms that you were just assuming would be there for you to pass through in future years. The space starts to feel more constricted, narrowed… The ‘narrowing’ can be a place where we prioritize what is most important. But even as we do so, it can still feel like a small, diminishing place that we occupy.
I do not understand why God is choosing to answer, “No,” to our pleas. I feel the thick fog of uncertainty choking me. I wail in the ache to be free of this monster. And I beg Him for a heart submissive to His will, for a life that is certain of my security in Him no matter what happens. My faith shudders and quakes, and I cry out, “Lord, help my unbelief.”
“In light of all this, it is important to remember… that through God’s victory, our feet have been planted in a ‘spacious place.’ Ultimately, to be and dwell in Christ is to dwell in the most ‘spacious place’ imaginable… What could be more wide and capacious than this–to dwell in Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the one through whom all things were made in whom all things hold together?”
This is what I must cling to, even in the confusion, the lament, the grief. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, and I dwell secure.
Friends, would you pray for us? Would you pray for me to believe that I am secure in Him? For hope? For wholeness of spirit, mind and body? For Brian and the children? For healing?
You have prayed so faithfully and for so long for us, and your encouragement humbles me.
We move forward, looking to Him. There is nowhere else to go.