I’m posting a series called Messy Stories. These are stories from others detailing pain and heartache; they are stories of cancer, death, divorce, betrayal, and disease; they are ultimately stories that bind each of us to one another in this messy thing known as life. If you have a messy story, anonymous or not, I would love to hear about it and post it for others in order that we all might gain insight and understanding from our different journeys. Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cancer. People get this horrible disease everyday and we feel bad for them, we pray for them, then..we somehow seem to forget about them. Not because we don’t care, but simply because we get TOO busy with life. You never think it can happen to you. Something so horrible. Something so deadly, so painful.
Last Easter, my 39 year old aunt was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The doctors said that this type was very fast acting and that it was rare for a female to get it and especially at her age. It was usually found in older males. She started chemo as soon as we found out what it was and she was transferred to Vanderbilt as soon as there was a bed available. A few weeks later she was in what they call remission, where the cancer cells were less than five percent. We were all thrilled. We thought, “Yes, we can do this!” The doctors thought she would be back to work in just a few months and that all was going to be well…We did too until she relapsed just a few weeks after that. They tried a stronger chemo since she was young and they thought her body could handle it. She went into remission for a second time. Again, we thought, “Yes, we can do this!” We then got the news she had to have a bone marrow transplant. We thought this was the end of the world. How? How could this be happening? Out of millions of people on the registry and there is no match??? We hosted a bone marrow drive at a local church and spread the word so everyone would know to come out and sign up. YOU COULD BE THE ONE TO SAVE A MOTHERS LIFE..A HUSBANDS WIFE..A DAUGHTER..A SISTER..A AUNT…
She came home and started having really bad headaches along with vomiting.. She went back to Vanderbilt and they found that it had spread to her Central Nervous System and that she had relapsed for a third time. We felt defeated and like giving up. Like all of our hope was gone. We took a deep breath, prayed harder, got back up, and began the fight one more time. The doctors told us it was basically like treating two different types of cancers and that she couldn’t have a bone marrow transplant until both the bone marrow and Central Nervous System were in remission. They would treat the bone cancer with the chemo like they had and for the Central Nervous System, they would have to treat it through the spine. The spinal cord has to have so much fluid in it. To treat this, however much fluid they take out, they put that much chemo into it. All was well..well we thought it was anyways, until we found out the doctors could try ONE more round of chemo to knock out the 30 odd percent that had built back into her bone for a fourth time.
My uncle was staying with her at the hospital at the time and realized she didn’t move her legs for a couple of hours.. He woke her up and asked her what was wrong..she told him her legs were numb and that she couldn’t move them. The doctors came in and did tests. Come to find out the chemo had damaged her heart and paralyzed her from the waist down. They thought they could fix it with a steroid shot if it was inflammation.. They sent her home with nothing left that they could do.
She came home with hospice. Yes, when you hear the word hospice, you think, “close to death.” We all thought it. We all freaked out. Instead of the steroid shot cutting down with the inflammation, it made her produce more blood, which made her produce more leukemia cells. We watched her lay in bed and hurt for four and a half days with nothing we could do but pray for a miracle.
She died last Tuesday and went to be with Jesus. Never in my life have I watched someone hurt so bad, suffer so bad, but fight so hard. Never one time did we lose faith in God. There was not a day that went by that we didn’t pray for Aunt Lisa. My family isn’t a normal family. Aunts and Uncles are like parents and cousins are like siblings. We come from a strong, christian home who serves God, who believes in miracles, and who stands together through rough times and good. Losing Aunt Lisa didn’t just do something to her husband and children…it wounded all of us. It wounded the community. How many souls could have been won over to Christ if she would have been healed when the doctors could do no more? How many lives would she have continued to have touched if she could have stayed? What is her husband going to do? How are two beautiful children going to grow up without a mother now? How will our lives ever be normal? What will holidays be like? What will everyday life be like? How are we supposed to cope? When will the hurt go away? I don’t like hearing the phrase, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” GOD WILL GIVE YOU MORE THAN WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE. YOU HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO COPE. YOU HAVE TO COME TO HIM FOR PEACE, FOR JOY, FOR COMFORT, FOR REST. He gives us peace.
I don’t like hearing, “well there is a reason for everything..” Well what is the reason for my Aunt Lisa dying? How is any good going to come from that? We stood on God’s word. We quoted scripture after scripture of healing and faith. We had faith. Never one time did we lack it. Even when she was taking her last breaths, we still thought God was going to heal her. I am angry. I am sad. I am mad. I am hurt. I am confused. I have so many emotions that I don’t know how to deal with. I don’t want to face the world. I don’t want to hear, “oh, you look like you are doing fine.” Well, truth is I am NOT fine. I am not okay with laying my 39 year old, precious Aunt to rest. I pray to God everyday for peace. I have to get up, put on a fake face, and try to be normal again..but what is going to be normal now? I don’t doubt God. I simply do not understand. I don’t understand why there has to be cancer, why she couldn’t have been healed. I praise God though. I thank him for the time I had with her and I thank him for putting me into this family and onto this earth. I will continue to serve him and pray that however he uses this, that he will receive ALL the glory.