Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cancer's Journey of Faith

Like a toddler learning to walk, our journey of faith can be one of forward motion, even though our steps are wobbly and unsure. When that journey of faith includes suffering, each step can also need surrender. As Christians, we rarely "give" ourselves to the Lord completely. Little by little, we surrender a meager grasp. We sing the songs, we pray the hip phrases, we gush that we want to be conformed, but we can resist the Refiner's fire.

Since this spring, I have been on a journey of surrender-stepping that is propelling me onto the path of perfection. Being made perfect through suffering.

The first wobbling step was taken to accept that my cancer was back. I toddled onto surgery.

After a months of recovery, I walked the path of acceptance, realizing there were going to be residual problems. I may have pain the rest of my life. Not intense pain, not "I can't bear it" but just "it will never go away" kinda' pain. The scar tissue in my ear and neck area constantly aches and pulls each time I turn my head. It is a constant reminder that I have cancer.

It was a "take heed lest you stumble" time. After saying that I didn't cry very much over my original cancer diagnosis, I have had some times of weeping. I have had to come to grips that unless the Lord works a miracle, I will never be cured and I will never be in remission. Like a stumbling toddler banging her head on the coffee table, I have had to turn back to my Father's arms, then stand again and keep walking, by faith and with joy.

This summer in Helena, I visited the oncologist for St. Peter's Hospital, Dr. W. I actually met him years ago while attending a check-up with a dear friend, Kari, who was dying from a brain tumor. I just needed some advice on my doctor situation. I am having a hard time trusting my doctors. He was empathetic and understanding and gave me great advice, including his recommendations for treatment. He was surprised that my surgeon didn't remove the original lumps that we had been following for four years. He was concerned enough to say, "If you were MY wife, I would have those lumps removed." He repeated it a second time. He also encouraged me to not wait with my radioactive iodine treatment.

I am now going to search for a new endocrinologist. My third one, but who's counting? If this cancer is going to be with me for a lifetime, I want a doc who is worth sharing my life with.


1. Nice
2. Nice nurse (My current endo's nurse SCARES me. I had several phone calls this summer that turned into confrontations. I HATE calling because she is either angry or rude to me. I am NOT her enemy, I am a patient.)
3. Not so busy (Surgery in April, couldn't get into follow-up until August)
4. Female. Male doctors generally don't care or understand hormonal things, so why am I going to a male doctor for a hormonal cancer during a very hormonal stage of my life?
5. Able to remember me. I would love to be remembered. By name, not only by chart.

I actually don't even care if my doc graduated at the bottom of her class if she meets the above criteria. I don't think I am asking too much.

So, I am starting over again.

Just when I was struggling a little with my attitude, I read a blog "Coffee and Chemo" from a woman in Jerusalem.

Her perspective on cancer gave me a new perspective on mine.

Diagnosis: Cancer is a "chronic illness."
You can live with it.
Translation: I hope to be on chemotherapy for a LONG time!

She is thankful for chemo - it means she is alive.
I choose to be thankful for my pain and for upcoming treatment - I am alive and healing day by day.
I am also thankful that the cancer keeps me focused on eternity.
Romans 8:18 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us."
Someday, I will be healed. I will have a glorified body in Heaven.
Until then, I am praying for a new doc. A nice, female doctor who has a nice nurse and can remember my name. She doesn't even has to spell it right.


  1. Oh Mindy! I am so sorry that your experience with you last / current endo didn't work out. I will check with some of the docs I work with and see what they might suggest regarding endos. They have connections! Pam

  2. Hi Mindy,

    Thank you so much!! I am so glad that you found support and inspiration from my blog -- that is the reason I chose to make my blog "open" in the first place.

    You MUST find a doctor who you can trust and who places your health and welfare as a top priority. It is outrageous that you had to wait FOUR MONTHS for a follow up visit!

    Regarding pain and suffering:
    In Judaism, we also have the concept that suffering leads to submission which leads to redemption. (I just went to a class about this last Sunday).

    That said, you should not be in pain. Pain not only saps the strength we need for the real things (like fighting cancer), it also drains our energy and affects our relationships (with our kids and our partners).

    This is why God gave us pain killers!

    (If you search my blog for "pain" you will find several posts about this subject -- some will not be relevant for you, just skim through them and find the ones that speak to you)


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