Yikes, here is an old blog post that should have been posted March 13 – but I never went back to proofread/edit…
Speaking of Jackie and her chordoma… Today marks the date that it was actually removed one year ago! Hooray – she is being watched very closely. Her excellent surgeon was so careful to use micro-stitching rather than micro-staples with even the smallest blood vessels just to be certain that future MRIs would not be fuzzy at all – they would not want to miss anything.
A chordoma only responds to proton radiation – something that we would have had to travel to Seattle to receive. Li-Fraumeni patients must avoid radiation of any kind whenever possible, so we weren’t too excited about this. The surgeons not only felt that they were able to remove the entire tumor – they were able to preserve the integrity of her spine, negating the need for further surgery and stabilization. She experienced one miracle after another and it was great.
I have never gone back to read any details – it has been a year. She feels great and is living a normal life – except for missing several inches of three ribs and permanent numbness on much of her left side…. and much poking, prodding, and scanning… otherwise normal.
Well, actually… better than normal.
I feel like a broken record, but I cannot say enough how important trials are to our lives, to make us the best that we can be. Paraphrasing a story I heard from David A. Bednar – I want to share its lesson:
He knew of a man that really wanted a pickup truck. His wife really didn’t. He says that the husband would tell her they needed the 4 wheel-drive to go and get milk for the children in case of a snow storm. She reminded him that if they bought a truck they would not have money for the milk… Eventually they bought the truck. To help justify the purchase, he took it up into the mountains to collect firewood. The further up the mountain, the worse the conditions became, until finally, he was stuck. There seemed to be no way that he would make it out of the mud (or snow – I cannot recall). He thought that since he was already there and had time on his hands, he might as well cut the firewood and fill his truck. He did so – and, lo and behold, with the back of his truck full of firewood he was able to drive out of the mess he was in and make it safely home.
It was the burden. The weight of the load, or burden, gave him the traction that he needed to get home again. We need trials, or burdens, to give us the spiritual traction to return to our Heavenly Father and our heavenly home.
This is why we are grateful for hardships. Usually we look back and are grateful. I believe that we can be grateful in the midst of our trials – maybe not liking them one bit, but being grateful that we are growing and gaining spiritual traction.
When life is going well there is so much to be grateful for also. Truthfully, my growth hasn’t been too steady during those times. I get too comfortable and tend to just coast.
When there is darkness, fear, and uncertainty… we can put our trust in the Lord. Not as easy as it sounds… and that is the secret! If it were easy, we wouldn’t grow.
Another recent story – Greg team-teaches a Sunday School class with a young woman. Last Sunday she was upset and shared with him the story that her younger brother had just been diagnosed with bone cancer. She and her family are naturally very upset. Quoting Greg, “She’s at the hard first week point, glad I’m not going through that part again!” Those days are horrendous— but it is going to get better. Natalie tells people that “you get three really bad days – then do your part to make it better.” However, because Greg has experienced those days (more than once) – he was in a position to talk with her and share what he has learned. She felt much better and he was pleased to be able to help.
This is not the first time and I am sure that it will not be the last time that Greg, and my other children (including the siblings without cancer), will be able to help others going through difficult times. They have learned at a young age that life will present you with “opportunities to grow” that you would rather just didn’t come your way…ever… – but are worth having.
Are my children living normal lives? Not really. They are living better than normal lives and I am glad of it!