We often get to choose our life adventures; but there are some life adventures that choose us. This week, we’ve embarked on an adventure that chose us. It’s the sort of adventure that no one wants to journey.
This week, Adam was diagnosed with cancer.
It’s been an incredibly scary month of tests, biopsies, ultrasounds, CT scans, and surgery. It’s been a month of so much waiting. It’s been a month of me dreaming up the worst-case scenarios and of Adam avoiding all of the scary possibilities. If I weren’t in the thick of this I would find our reactions to this month an interesting case study on relationship dynamics. But here I am, smack dab in the middle, and I don’t find any of this very interesting at all.
I’m still in shock. Cancer? Really? Every morning since the diagnosis, I wake up hoping that I’ve had a terrible dream. But then I get that pit in my stomach and realize the weight on my chest and remember this is very, very real. The thought of the person I love most in the world having this makes me sick and sobby and pissed.
Like any good helping professional, I’ve been diagnosing my own stages of grief over the diagnosis. For me, the stages cycle pretty rapidly. One minute I’m in denial, the next I’m bargaining, and moments later, I’m furious. I wish I were sleeping better these nights because then I wouldn’t have as many hours to think about all of the possibilities. At this point, many of my possibilities are dark; anxiety is a real jerk that way.
I want to be a rock through all this but being the steady one is usually Adam’s role. I have a lot to learn about being a rock. For example: How am I not supposed to cry every time I look at Adam? How am I not supposed to think scary thoughts every minute of the day? How do I laugh and create fun memories for us in the midst of this season?
The good news is that I don’t really have to be a rock (that’s really good news, I’ll never be good at that). I’ve been reading and re-reading the Psalms and am reminding my soul to trust in God, to rest in God, and to find refuge in God “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in who I trust (Psalm 91).” “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18)
I’m also incredibly thankful that we have dear friends, who are way more rock-like than Adam and me are these days. We have the kind of friends that drop everything and find sitters so they can sit with us when we’re freaking out. We have the kind of friends that know when we need a night of delving into the dark places and when we need a night of games and laughter. We have the kind of friends who surprise us and show up to sit with us during endless waiting in the hospital. We have the kind of friends who text funny puns, drop wine off at our doorstep, who offer to clean the house before chemo, and who have signed up to mow the yard. We are incredibly grateful for God using people as our refuge.
TV shows have sorely misrepresented the way cancer gets diagnosed. Adam’s diagnosis has been more of a process than a proclamation. We still have a lot of questions (I’m sure you do, too). What we do know is that the doctors feel hopeful about treatment, and that treatment will mean chemo. He starts really aggressive chemo on Monday that will span several months. We’re grateful the long term prognosis looks good, but we’re pretty scared about the now.
We’ve both blown the dust off of our blogs and will surely keep you updated as we can. I can only assume Adam and I will write about very different things, so if anyone is interested in doing a case study on how couples process life differently, feel free to subscribe to both of our blogs. I imagine we’ll share less about the procedures and more about the feels and needs and thoughts. But I don’t know, because this is really uncharted territory for us.
The question we’ve been getting over and over as we’ve started to share this news
is “What can we do?” which is so sweet and helpful and appropriate. And because everything is swirling, it’s really hard to know. Mostly we covet your prayers. Please pray for Adam, we know that God can heal. Please pray for the doctors to have wisdom, and for treatment to be effective. And please pray for our hearts in this season. Also, feel free to send encouragement our way in the form of scriptures, songs, funny videos, or good stories.
Some of our friends decided they wanted to do something more in the practical realm – they’re the kind of friends who show love by doing. So they sat us down and asked us to make a few lists: Practical things that would be helpful in this season, an amazon wish list for the hard days, and a fun list so that we can keep enjoying life in the midst of hard. There is zero pressure, but if you want to get your hands on one of those lists, let us know.
We believe that healing happens best in community; we’re so grateful for people who will walk this journey with us.
We cherish texts, emails, and phone calls. Please have grace and patience with us if we don’t reply right away. This is new and big and we’re taking one moment and one day at a time.