Did cancer ruin my child or did I do that myself?

This whole time I’ve felt so fortunate that our kids were young when dealing with the cancer. I hated hearing I could die before they’d be old enough to remember me, but it was so much easier than having to deal with the emotions and questions that an older child would have posed. Or, so I thought. It’s been almost a year since the diagnosis and the toll it’s taken on Abigail has finally become apparent.We tried to keep everything as “normal” as possible during treatment, but obviously we didn’t succeed. Everything changed, as it had to. She was only 3 when the doctors first started telling me I was going to die, so she hadn’t been through anything difficult. Nor did she have any clue what sickness, cancer, or death were. Added to that, she used to only see Grandpa for holidays, and suddenly he was here full-time, babysitting several times per week. Then he moved away and Grandma moved down. Now she’s going to preschool every day, but I drag her to doctors or leave her with sitters at least once a week. She was a trooper through all of it and I thought she was unscathed–a few months ago she said she’d never seen me cry. Clearly she had forgotten the low times from last year, like when she’d begged me to go just one day without crying.

Well, my treatments have been done since June, but the aftermath has just begun. And worsening. I’ve had to leave overnight a few times and it sets off really bad behavior. She’s also having nightmares and outrageously naughty behavior at school. Anytime I will be away from her she wants to know exactly what I’m doing and I have to promise I’ll be back. Most issues seem to involve control–she wants it–so we’re trying to help her feel super secure but still teach her that she isn’t the boss.

I’m blaming cancer for ruining my child, but I might have done it myself. I’m a behavior analyst, how did I end up with the child who behaves so badly at school? There’s nothing innately “different” about her, I really believe this is a nurture (not nature) issue. We’re praying a lot about her behavior but don’t know what to do. Maybe we’re reading too much into it, and she is noncompliant because I gave her way too many choices until now. And now she thinks she should always have the chance to have some sort of “say” in what she does.

I don’t like either of these hypotheses. So much of my fight against cancer was because I didn’t trust God to raise them without me. I’m not sure I ever admitted that before. And now it turns out I don’t know what I’m doing anyway. Awesome.

It will all work out, we just need to trust God with everything, and wait on Him for how to proceed. So much of parenting seems time-sensitive, but it will be better if I focus on being God-sensitive instead. God did one of the nicest things ever for me, and I’m going to focus on that: This morning I could not stop singing this song about trusting the Lord. Then I realized I was promising to trust Him but not really meaning it. I started to pray about it but got interrupted and figured I’d think about it more later. Instead, I checked my email and a friend had written to me about how she had this vision while she was praying for me (not about Abi, just generally). She could see anguish, doubt, and fear filling up my cup. Then those things were poured out and trust replaced it. Isn’t that awesome? I often joke about how easy it would be to do what God wants if He would just send me a to-do list. This time He basicallly did! He made sure I got an email with His message, “TRUST ME”.

People have had dreams and visions a few times for me before, but never anything so specific and timely. I take it as a HUGE honor, that He would do something so bold and clear to get through to me. It must be very important, and those are all issues I’ve been having. I can’t tell you the comfort I get from how personal that message is. So, I will trust Him. God is mightier than my mistakes. I will trust Him today. And tomorrow.

Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

Deut 1:30-32, “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as He did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes and in the desert. There you saw how the Lord your God
carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. “

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Lots of Updates

There are so many updates to share that I might not get to anything juicy today. I’m having a hard time getting my act together this fall. I took on too much so am always either overly busy, or so overwhelmed that I shut down.

I just got back from Jacksonville, where the latest FABA conference was held. That is the Florida Association for Behavior Analysis, and I haven’t been there in two years. I used to work for the company and have very few fond memories from it, meaning that I was losing sleep about going. In many ways it was as bad as I expected–it was the first time I’d seen all these people since before my diagnosis, so some people were weird to me and others didn’t recognize me. As a result of that and several other variables, I feel much more socially awkward than before. I noticed I had virtually nothing to say to people, so sometimes even avoided conversations rather than risking sounding stupid. My hair has grown in nicely but is currently at an awkward length, so tons of people who didn’t know about the cancer stuff talked about it. They said they liked it, but I am repulsive so doubt they meant it. Those talks generally turned into an awkward cancer conversation. I tried to avoid it, but people would keep asking why or when I cut it, so I had to say something. It gave me a great chance to tell people about how I was miraculously healed, but..I wasn’t really in the mood. I just wanted things to be normal again. I don’t actually want to be the one sitting around the coffee station telling them how I’m supposed to die soon. They just wanted to get a packet of Splenda and make small talk. They didn’t want the girl with bad hair to remind them of how mortal they are.

The highlights of the conference were when people (some were barely acquaintanes) pulled me aside to say how moved they were by my story. Some said they grew closer to God through it and, as I’ve mentioned many times, that makes it totally worth it. So, I need to focus on that.

There are other bits of recent good news, too. I saw Dr. Rassam before I left town and he said he’s not going by the book with me anymore, because I’m atypical. So, he’s sparing me the radiation that goes into regular PET/CT scans and instead will just get me tested if I have symptoms. He took my blood and all my markers were negative again.

I was interviewed for the Tallahassee Democrat (our local newspaper) last week. They are focusing on breast cancer stories throughout October, which is BC Awareness month. I did a written interview, then the reporter took a video of me sharing the story to be posted online. Wouldn’t you know–I royally messed up the video report. I misspoke and had weird, nervous inflections. So, I went home and prayed about it. Then a week later the guy emailed a big apology–the video somehow was messed up so he needed to reshoot it!!!! Coincidence? “Sure”. The second time went a lot better and I’m excited about it, because most of the stories will not have the same message of hope that mine does.

I do have to report some bad news, too. Both of the people I requested prayer for reccently, Angela Faddis, and Steve Kalogeras, have passed away. Those are the first unanswered prayers out of all the ones I’ve posted. Steve died almost 2 weeks ago and the funeral was last week. Angela survived a few weeks longer than expected but died yesterday of colon cancer. She was my age. Her husband had quit his job to take care of her. They set up an in-home hospice and her little children were with her until the end. I am so saddened by this. She loved the Lord and is with Him for eternity, but I know she didn’t want to die. Not at the first anyway. I imagine that by the end you kind of want to put the rest of the family out of their misery. That’s the worst part of the hospice stuff, to me.

I’m still wrestling with this issue of whether everyone can be healed on earth. I can’t get past it, because it changes the whole perspective. Most say no, but some of those who think it so are those who then are healed. My take home message from being healed is that God healed me because a) we all asked and b) I (with at least a few others) believed that He would answer. That His word is literal and true. His word says to pray and believe it will be done and it WILL be. Literally, it will be done. For me, it was done. For Angela, it was not done, and I have a hard time with it. I won’t presume that it’s because she and her family didn’t believe she would be healed, because that’s almost like blaming them for her death. I guess it goes back (again) to that stuff I keep mentioning about God putting desires in your heart, and that’s how you pray. But if that such an important thing, why is it barely mentioned in the Bible? It says TONS of time to pray and believe. It barely says that God gives you the desires of your heart, and that could sort of be interpreted differently.

I guess that is it. Enough sad and confusing issues for one day. This year at BSF we’re studying Genesis so I’ll probably bring in points relative to that. For now, remember that He created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). He created each of us. Planned it all. Formed us in our wombs. Why? For His glory. It’s individualized because we’re all different people, but we are all working together. Every move we make should be pleasing to Him, even if it means living like an alien in this strange land.

“They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead–Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” 1 Thess 1:9-10

Important, time-sensitive prayers

Just a quick update on a few important people.

Please, please pray for these dire situations. The good news is that the Lord heals people all the time. The bad news is that these people are really, really sick. I will be fasting tomorrow for them and would appreciate if anyone who feels led to do so joins me in that and/or praying.

The first is a young mother named Angela Faddis. She has a popular page on Facebook so you might have heard of her. I believe she has two young children and stage 4 colon cancer. One week ago the doctors told her husband she would be dead within hours. She is is still alive right now. I am going to pray for a full and immediate recovery. That the cancer recedes and never returns. That she regains her strength, mental faculties, and recovers from all damage caused by the horrendous disease. I know it’s unlikely, and that part of life is death, but this is God we’re talking about. He might not “need” people like her around, but guess what? The rest of us do!  She and her family are kind, loving, faithful people devoted to the Lord and we need more of those around.

“Yahweh will sustain him on his sickbed, and restore him from his bed of illness.” Ps 41:3

The other is my friend’s dad. I just realized I don’t know his name. If I remember right, he has a heart condition that started from being shot when he was a police officier. He’s had several close calls in the hospital over the past few years, including briefly dying at least once. He is in a hospital in Miami now, in critical condition. His heart is only working 5% on its own. It’s very bad so please pray a lot for him and the Kalogeras/McDermott families.

“And the prayer of faith will restore the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up to health, and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgotten.” James 5:15

Death

I’m close to a breakdown…not sure I can handle this…I just learned someone I knew in college recently died. Of cancer.

Yaacov didn’t understand the magnitude of the situation, which means you all reading this probably won’t either. That’s part of the isolation of the ridiculous disease. Especially in my situation–hardly anyone my age can relate to having a terminal illness at all, because, well, there aren’t many of the and they die before we can really “bond”. So that stinks, and then when you throw in that I was miraculously healed, it’s even harder to find people that “get” it. Not that I’m complaining, really. 
There’s something about being told time and again that you’re going to die soon that changes you. I used to think it was like teaching English as a Second Language–you don’t have to speak multiple languages to teach the new one. But I’m pretty sure that in this case you have to live through it or have some really, really, really awesome insight straight from God to get it. 
That said, most people don’t have the ability to turn from a happy thought into a mess of tears because someone they barely knew is dead. I have that ability, and right now I don’t want it. It’s like I’m living his death. I already lived my own, you know. It’s not much easier this time. If he had died in a car accident or something, I probably wouldn’t be too upset. But the second I read “cancer” I knew. I knew what it felt like for Jim to hear the diagnosis for the first time. For him to hope and pray for good test results. To hear bad news instead. To hope and pray for the miracle. Without ever having set foot in a hospice, I knew how it felt to have to move there, knowing it would likely be his last earthly home. Then finally, to hope and pray for a removal of the agony–mental and physical–that the bastard disease caused himself and loved ones. 
I couldn’t tell you what color his eyes were, but I know exactly how he felt. And I know he wanted to live as much as I did. I know he deserved to live as much as I did. And I know he didn’t. And I did.
I’m so sad. Confused. Surprised. Everyone in the body has a part and I always thought mine was minor. I did hope sometimes for a position of higher impact, but life and death with myself as an example is beyond my capabilities. Why aren’t I called to be a beacon of hope for something lighter? Simpler? Easier? Less painful, perhaps? 
“After he was healed, the man…begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had compassion on you.” Mark 5:18-19
I am quite certain the scripture above is a direct command for me, so I will keep doing it. It’s not particularly hard with the right audience, but what can I say to people grieving from actual loss? “See how healthy I am?!” 
I know it sounds so ungrateful to complain, when I’m still alive, but I don’t know how many more deaths I can live through. I suppose the point is that I am utterly unable to perform these duties without the help of the Lord, so when I feel this way I’m on the verge of breaking through–become less so He can become more. So, come on then, God! I’m ready to feel numb again.