Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cancer Chronicles

Yes, the rumors are true; I have cancer, breast cancer.  In December I found a lump, and after a barrage of tests and a heavy schedule of appointments with doctors of all kinds (up to 4 in one day) lots of research and a bit of information overload, I have a plan to move forward for my care. My four specialists are excellent, and they all, with my GP, aligned in their diagnosis and treatment options.  After the initial shock the most empowering thing I did was to get good information (they gave me a whole book to read) and choose the option that would work for me.  Ignorance is the spawning ground of fear, and being proactive about knowing my options and selecting my best path forward has given me back a measure of control.
I have hesitated to announce this to my friends on Facebook and other public places because although I covet your prayers, I do not need advice, horror stories, extra woes or burdens piled on.  Christmas was more than ordinarily stressful with the pending diagnosis but I am not in any pain and was able to enjoy all the usual festivities (although I confess holiday activities often triggered the question: “Is this the last time I will ever do this?” - get thee behind me, satan - right?).  Because I caught this VERY early, (and ladies please don’t neglect your self-exams; just get in the shower, lather up with some gooey body wash and love on the girls because most breast cancer is found by the women themselves) I have the prospect of a complete cure with an almost non-existent chance of recurrence. 

 Yes, I am milking this for all its worth (bad pun, I know).  I bought several new adorable cancer-fighting outfits, I treated myself to soul-restoring comfort food after each test result came back with the word “cancer” on it, I am indulging in some edgy cancer humor, and I am taking two weeks in France to visit old friends and clean the city of Paris of all its pastries.
  I am also doing some research into the origins of hospice in Beaune, France, where the famed l’Hotel Dieu (God’s Hotel) is, a hospice/hospital built in the 1400’s by a married couple who wanted to provide excellent medical care for the poor.  The town of Beaune is also filled with wine caves, cellars, tasting bars, and even a downtown vineyard. Every November they host a wine tasting to raise money for the modern hospice.  Only the French. I intend relieve them of some of their stock as well.  Ministry expense.  Of course.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” He also said that he was hard pressed between the two options, because to die and go be with Christ is better by far, but he believed he still had work to do this side of eternity.  “Convinced of this, I will remain in the flesh”.  Me too; God has given me this great education and has ordained my ministry.  The Gospel is always urgent; having cancer has reminded me that we are all given only a little bit of time to share the love of God in Christ.  James O. Frasier said, “A Christian is immortal until his work on earth is done.”  Me too.  Whatever comes in our lives is sovereignly ordained of God; if I woke up this morning, then there must be something more for me to do, some way to further glorify God.  My ministry saw some significant movement at the end of last year; I expect the devil didn’t like that very much to try to throw cancer my way.  But we don’t let the devil win, so I am prayerfully scheduling for 2018.  Be on the lookout for a women’s retreat, more training events for clergy, an Out of the Darkness walk for AFSP, an event for our National Day of Prayer, a vigil for suicide awareness. Please pray for me, for my healing of course but also that with Paul I say, “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” Philippians 1:18-20