Joy in the Morning: Trusting God and Finding Purpose in my Cancer

As many of you know, I was diagnosed with lymphoma last December. I have recently completed my treatments but my journey is not over nor will it ever be, as cancer has changed my life and the way I live it. My “new normal” is living in a world of doctor appointments, follow up PET scans and periodic blood work.

These next few months I would like to share with you the things the Lord has shown me and taught me through my cancer and tell you of the many blessings I’ve received (yes, even in cancer) because we have a Savior who is rich in grace, mercy and compassion.

Hearing the Word No One Wants to Hear

It was the Monday after Thanksgiving, 2012. I had just come back from our condo in Fox Lake where I spent the weekend with my family doing some holiday shopping and baking Christmas cookies. It was a fun-filled weekend as I started getting ready for Christmas.

liz and family 2012

I had been dealing with a swollen left leg for over 2 weeks and was told by a family member who is a nurse to have it looked at when I got home. I thought that maybe I had a blood clot so I was somewhat concerned. I went to work that Monday morning and was able to get into the doctor that same day after work. Little did I know when I left work that day, that I would not return for 6 months. My life was going to change in an instant as God had a divine appointment for me.

As I was laying on the examining table, my doctor found a large, hard as a rock mass in my groin. He tried to calmly tell me that it could be a number of things, one of which was the dreaded “C” word. With some urgency in his voice, he gave me orders to have diagnostic testing done that week along with a consultation to an oncologist (cancer specialist). I started getting that sick feeling in my stomach as I knew in my heart that I was dealing with something more serious than a blood clot.

After a long sleepless night, I had an ultrasound the next day. The tech told me that the mass looked very unusual and that he needed to talk to the radiologist right away and call my family doctor. Now I used to work in radiology so I knew by his actions that something was seriously wrong. As the tech left the room, I remember calling out to Jesus telling Him I needed Him to get me through this. Again, I had that sick feeling in my gut.

After a CT scan the following day, I received a call from a surgeon saying he was taking the mass out the next day. I was just thankful I was getting this thing out of me and I would finally know what I was dealing with. I was still holding on to the hope that it was something other than cancer.

The following Monday after the surgery, I met with the surgeon for the biopsy results. In a matter of fact tone of voice, he told me the biopsy came back showing lymphoma. At that point I think my brain shut off as I could hardly comprehend everything he was telling me. In my daze, I heard him say we needed to find out if the cancer had metastasized and had to see what stage I was in. I’m so thankful my husband, Bruce, was there as he was able to grasp what the doctor was telling me. As I checked out with his receptionist (who I happened to know), I remember her saying to me, “Oh no, not you too dear. Do you remember so and so, well she just died of cancer.” Then she wished me a Merry Christmas.

In a daze, I slowly walked over to the cancer clinic which was right next door to the surgeon’s office to make that most dreaded appointment. I felt like I was in a bad dream and just wanted to wake up and have everything back to “normal” again.

December was an absolute blur. It was full of doctor appointments, 2 more surgeries, and more tests as I prepared for my first chemotherapy treatment right after Christmas. It was definitely a Christmas I will never forget.

{read part 2 here}

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