I have just climbed out of a deep, dark pit and now I find myself free-falling backwards into it again. This is how I described my feelings as I learned my daughter, Jackie, had been diagnosed with cancer. May 2011 marked the end of Greg’s chemotherapy, and now we were on the brink of what??? We knew that she had a mass on her spine, and it had taken three weeks for the biopsy results to get back to us. I had called the doctor’s office everyday for a week – to us it seemed that it was taking so long that it must not be too big of a deal. I was prepared to fight to get it taken care of sooner than later. Because Jackie has Li-Fraumeni syndrome, even a benign tumor can turn on her. They called to schedule an appointment to talk to our surgeon, but they did give me the name of her tumor, a chordoma.
I looked it up, and the falling sensation began.
Of course it is extremely rare, and the location on her thoracic spine is even more unusual. It is malignant, and though it is slow growing – hers is already the size of a fist, so how long has it been slowly growing? It is on the anterior spine – pushing against her aorta – how in the world are they going to get to it?
That was Friday afternoon. Saturday was hard for me. Prayer calms the troubled heart, and I know it was my source of power and peace during Greg’s cancer (and every other trial in my life), so I prayed often. I knew from experience that, whatever the outcome, we would be blessed. As I prayed I knew that Heavenly Father is aware of her, and that she would come out of all of this stronger and more ready to serve others. I saw her as the strong and beautiful girl that she is, and the word that came to my mind was “Regal”.
I wrote to my mother-in-law that I knew whatever the outcome, that it would all be “fine, whatever fine is.” She knew I wasn’t using the word casually, and responded with the definition: Fine, adj. 1. of superior or best quality: of high or highest grade; excellent: as fine wine. Well, yes in response to your query, “Whatever “fine’ is. . . The above definition fits.
Sunday morning I was refreshed and calm, but by then it all hit home to Jackie and that wasn’t easy. On Monday we left the doctor’s office armed with answers to many questions and this made us stronger. How will they get to that awful tumor? She will be on her side and they will make an incision from front to back; probably remove a rib and stretch the others; collapse a lung to make room; and have a team of four surgeons doing their best to get this gelatinous tumor out in one piece (vitally important); and then keep her in ICU until her lung works again, then in the hospital for a few more days. That was a long sentence, and it will be a long surgery, and a long recovery.
I mentioned that we were “armed with answers” and I meant it. Knowledge gives us strength. We now have a plan and we will be “fine”.
I have hit the bottom of the pit. It is time to start climbing.