This post is a little personal and bordering on TMI, but you all are like family to me and I wanted you to know what’s been going on in my life the past few days…
The past six months or so, I’d been experiencing a few issues… of the female variety. I didn’t really think it was anything to worry about so I didn’t really pay attention to it much. I figured it would eventually just go away. (I know, denial is not really the best solution, is it??)
The past week, some more issues had arisen to the point where I knew something was clearly not right internally. Jesse encouraged me to make a doctor’s appointment and I was concerned enough that I did.
When I called the Women’s Center to let them know what was going on, they suggested that I come in sooner rather than later. So, even though I had blogging friends flying into town to stay at my house on Thursday afternoon, I went ahead and took the appointment slot they had open then.
Truthfully, I expected the appointment to be very routine: check in, get weighed, ask a few questions, get checked out, and be told to just watch things and report back if anything changed.
Only that’s not how it went. As soon as the PA started the internal exam, they said, “You have a mass on your cervix.”
And then they checked some more. And some more. Brought the doctor in. Checked some more.
This was not what I was anticipating. Not. at. all.
They started throwing out words and phrases and statements that were scary:
We need to do a biopsy.
We need to do an ultrasound.
We need to do surgery.
We may need to remove part or all of your uterus.
My head started spinning. I needed to be headed to the airport to pick up my blogging friends, not thinking about biopsies, surgery, and cancer.
I texted my friends and said, “I’m sorry, I have to get a biopsy on my cervix. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
And then there was more checking. More prodding. More poking. More uncomfortableness. More scary words.
This seemingly routine doctor’s appointment was now far from routine. And I sat there in the exam room not knowing what to feel.
They finished the biopsy, went over all my options and possibilities, and rearranged the schedule to get me in for an ultrasound the following morning.
I walked out of the doctor’s office wondering if my life would ever be the same again. I had to call Jesse and I didn’t know how to break the news to him.
You see, his mom had died of cervical cancer when he was 12. He’d walked this road before and I knew that this news would hit him much harder than it had hit me.
As I suspected, he was shocked by the news. He quickly worked out the childcare situation, dropped everything he was doing, and met me in the parking garage of the doctor’s office so he could drive with me to the airport.
I needed to process the news. I needed him close. And I knew I needed to be strong for him.
We talked through it. I shared my fears. We talked about the possibilities. And we texted my family with the news and asked them to pray.
It wasn’t just the cancer word that was scary. It was also the news that there was a good chance they’d need to remove my uterus.
I’m 33 years old and, as some of you know, I’m at peace with the fact that we might not have more children (we’ve experienced secondary infertility for the past 5 years), but we’ve always hoped that it might happen. So the thought that my child-rearing years were possibly coming to a screeching halt was hard to process. Especially because all of this came out of left field.
We went to the airport to pick up my friends. Part of me felt like this was the worst time ever for me to be hosting a Blogging Retreat at my house. But the other part of me knew that what I needed most was to be surrounded by friends who would make me laugh, listen to me, pray with me, and care for me.
That’s exactly what happened. These four girls were not only a great distraction to me, they were so kind and gentle. Speaking words of life, hope, and encouragement to me.
We got their suitcases situated, chatted a bit, and then left for the grocery store to buy groceries for the next few days (these girls are amazing cooks and food bloggers, so they offered to do the meal-planning and cooking while staying at my house — how cool is that??)
While we were at the store, my kids called me crying. One of them had overheard bits and pieces of the news, had relayed it to the others, and they were all very upset.
My heart broke right in two. How was I supposed to help my kids process all this when I couldn’t even figure out how to process it myself?
I said I’d be right home to snuggle with them and we quickly finished up the grocery shopping and headed home. It took about 30 minutes of talking and hugging and processing before the kids all calmed down enough to be able to sleep.
I felt so helpless to know how to encourage them. But I asked them to be strong for me and told them that we were all going to be brave together — no matter what I heard from the doctor the next day.
Before I went to bed that night, my sweet blogging friends all gathered around me and prayed over me.
It was beautiful. And I knew that God had orchestrated things perfectly to have them at my house the day that I needed them most.
I felt so loved and supported in the midst of my confusion and heaviness. In addition to my blogging friends surrounding me with love, all of my family members had reached out and texted me to say they were praying and to express how much they cared about me. It meant the world to me!
I slept well, but woke up feeling nervous, tense, and apprehensive. I knew that the news I was going to hear today could possibly change the course of the rest of my life.
I felt sick to my stomach and jittery. But in spite of that, I also felt peace.
Peace that whatever happened today, God was in control. Peace that God was going to take care of us.
And I headed into the ultrasound carried by this peace.
The internal and external exam seemed to take forever. We had to wait in the waiting room, do the exams, and then wait again for the reports.
Very pregnant women kept coming into the room for their ultrasounds. There were pregnancy magazines spread out everywhere. And all I could think was, “Most women who come into this office are probably getting ultrasounds of their healthy pregnancies, not finding out whether they have to get their uterus taken out or to be diagnosed with cancer.”
It made me think about how many times we’re in situations where someone might be hurting or carrying a heavy burden and we don’t know it. I want to be more sensitive and caring in these situations.
We finally got to meet with the doctor. I was shaking and scared.
And then she said the words I’d been holding my breath to hear: “I don’t think it’s cancer and the mass is small enough that we won’t have to remove your uterus when we do surgery.”
I let out a huge sigh of relief.
I had prepared for much worse. But instead, it was the best care scenario we could have possibly hoped for.
I felt grateful. Humbled. And exhausted from the tension. All at once.
I know that these stories often don’t have a happy ending. In fact, I debated whether or not to share it because it DOES have a happy ending.
Some of you don’t have happy endings to your stories.
Some of you are probably waiting on results for medical testings that could change the course of your future.
Some of you have probably received hard news in recent weeks.
Some of you are feeling scared and overwhelmed with heavy burdens.
I wish I could tie up all your problems in a neat little bow. I wish I could carry your burdens. I wish I could take away your heartache.
But while I can’t do that, what this week taught me was the power of being a supporter to others who are struggling. Because there are so many people who are struggling.
I want to do a better job of paying attention. Of asking the right questions. Of not being too busy or preoccupied to notice or care. Of making the effort to reach out and let people know that I care about them. Of finding more tangible ways to show people how much I love them.
There is a world of hurt, heartache, and heavy burdens around us. We can’t fix all the problems, but we can love others well. We can’t solve all the crisis that are swirling around us, but we can take time to listen and care about those in our daily lives. We can’t heal all the brokenhearted, but we can shower people with the ministry of our presence.
Together, we can help do a little bit to turn others’ upside down worlds a little more right-side up. And it starts with our willingness to stop worrying about how awkward it might feel or how uncomfortable it might seem, and to just reach out and love others well… just like my blogging friends and my immediate family did for me this week.