I always find encouragement by looking back to times in my life where I needed to rely on the Lord. Not too long ago, I shared the story of our family tent as a reminder of God’s faithfulness.
As I hit the five year mark being cancer free, I wanted to take a minute to share about God’s faithfulness through the biggest medical challenge our family has faced. I want to proclaim the Lord’s faithfulness. Five years ago, my oldest child was 5, and now my youngest is. I am so thankful for being blessed with five more years with my children. I pray that I never take the days I have with my children for granted.
In 2010, our family’s summer took a crazy turn when we found that I had a large growth on my thyroid. Did I notice it while looking in the mirror or at a routine doctor’s visit? Nope. We found it when 10-month old Gideon headbutted me in the neck. Yep, God used my baby boy to find cancer we hadn’t noticed any other way. As my surgeon described it, “You’ve got a great story to tell that I hope you’ll be telling for 60 years to come.”
When Gideon hit me, the growth bumped my trachea and esophagus since both curved around the 4 cm x 2 cm x 2 cm nodule. At first, we thought he had injured something in my neck, but it turned out to be a cancerous growth.
The next month was a whirlwind of doctor visits and medical tests.
A facebook update during this time said:
My thyroid is functioning normally (from bloodwork). The nodule biopsy results fall in the gray area of “only God knows if it is cancer” (doctors say 20%). Since the nodule pushes on my esophagus and trachea, I’m still going to be off to a surgeon to get this removed. Please pray for wisdom at deciding 1/2 or whole thyroid, which doctor, which hospital, timing, and any other decisions that’ll need to be made. I’ve got no idea how long it will take until I get into a surgeon or anything like that. I have to go back to the endocrinologist to pick up all of my test results/paperwork and then will figure out the surgeon.
Surgery was scheduled for as soon as possible: July 21st. This happened to be when my parents were on a cruise to Alaska. A good friend watched my 4 children while Seth took me to surgery.
Before the surgery, I had to have a routine EKG to make sure my heart could handle the surgery. During that, we discovered my really low resting pulse. I “failed” my EKG and had to have a cardiologist “approve” me for the surgery. I just remember driving to the cardiologist, crying and singing, “Hold me, Jesus ‘cuz I’m shaking like a leaf. You have been King of my Glory. Won’t You be my Prince of Peace?” God really did hold us in His hands through this emotional time. It’s amazing how God used a song I knew as a teen to comfort me years later.
After surgery, I struggled with low calcium levels and pain management, but the prayers of so many upheld and strengthened me. We had 10 days after surgery for me to recover and our family to travel to Camp Li-Lo-Li (Seth was volunteering there as a director).
Never was there a time I could say, “I have cancer.” We didn’t know it was cancer until after it had already been removed from my body. Then I could say, “I had cancer.” From the miraculous way we found the cancer to how everything had come together, Seth and I both felt the whole time that it would be cancer. . . not in a pessimistic way, but just in a deep gratefulness that God had brought it to our attention to remove the cancer before it spread.
I had months of exhaustion, a week without my kids while I completed my only radioactive cancer treatment (with lots of adventures to get a certain special drug needed prior to the treatment), and a lot of Elijah’s kindergarten year I honestly don’t remember.
What I do remember is relying on God and Him bringing us through this medical challenge. Elijah learned how to read and to love learning in the midst of all of this, and our family grew stronger together.
As much as I don’t love going through trials and struggles, I’m so grateful that God walks with us, sustains us, and uses the trials to make us more like Him.