I have come to the realization that for the last 16 months I have only faced my disease (cancer), rather than coming head on with my diagnosis. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and for me, it has been beneficial to my fight.
Until two weeks ago, I did not want to know the details of my diagnosis. I knew that I had been diagnosed with a gnarly type of cancer called Large Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Cervix, but the statistics did not matter to me. I felt that if I knew the ins and outs of my diagnosis, I would be brought to my knees in debilitating fear. After all, what I had been told already frightened me. “Rare. Poor prognosis. Less than 100 women worldwide have ever been diagnosed. Aggressive. Resistant to treatment. Recurrence is probable.” In fact, this diagnosis is so rare, there is only one doctor with any knowledge about it. And admittedly, he doesn’t know much. Those words gave me a sense of what I was up against, and I wasn’t ready to find out what this beast really was. I knew it’s identity, but didn’t care for it’s traits. Some may call this naive, but I assure you, this was my version of coping. I was protecting myself in the midst of the most weakest moments in my life. Had I learned the cold, hard facts about my diagnosis, I might have been crippled in times that I needed to pick up my shield and stand firm.
Recently, I had an overwhelming sense that I was supposed to know more than just this beast’s name. I felt ready. Thus began my search. Previously, I had been told by several doctors that there really is not much research nor information about the specifics of my diagnosis, and that if I was interested, I could look at studies of lung cancers. Apparently they behaved similarly. However, instead of investigating cancers similar to mine, I wanted to know more about LCCC (Large Cell Carcinoma of the Cervix) specifically. I came across a helpful website created by my fellow “sisters” in this fight and the doctor studying it. Upon entering, I felt nervous, apprehensive, anxious… and ready. As I clicked on the “Education and Information” section, I knew I was turning the key to the door of reality. I began reading. What is it? Who gets it? What are the symptoms? How is it diagnosed and treated? And lastly… what is the prognosis? I paused for a moment and told myself, “Stop reading. You don’t need to know.” Yet as I was repeating these cautionary words, I could not stop my eyes from continuing on through the statistics. By the end of the section, I was relieved it was over. Relieved that I finally knew why my doctor cried after giving me this LCCC diagnosis. Everything that I had been told had been confirmed. This cancer is a jerk. Don’t get me wrong, all cancers are, but this one is the bully in the classroom that won’t give up.
My heart still races as I share this experience. My human flesh is fearful and doubting. I’m not ready to die. I have an overwhelming number of things I still have yet to do here on this Earth. I have dreams, desires, and goals.
Yet, with these feelings of fear, my hope is in something much bigger than my diagnosis. Someone exponentially larger than this mere irritant called, cancer.
From the beginning of this journey, I have stood firmly in the statement that statistics are just numbers. They don’t matter. My life and death will not rely on numbers that people have put together, no matter how much or how little their research shows. My life and death are reliant on my Lord. He has the end say. He directs my paths. He declares when the fight is over. Not the doctors. Not a website. Not a percentage. Not a number. I cling to my God’s statistics, and through Him I can be healed, no matter the prognosis. Statistics didn’t matter 16 months ago, so why should they matter now?
Often we get trapped in what the world is telling us. Labels, titles, and diagnoses. We forget who has the first, middle, and last say of our lives. No matter how vast my doctor’s knowledge is, my God’s knowledge is incomparable. Our hope gets caged in the confines of a statistical box. We think that if a doctor tells us something, it must be true. While my intentions are not to undermine the immense research and knowledge that our incredible doctors possess, I’m simply saying there is someone higher than this. Often, in our flesh, we cling to the circumstance. Instead, we should be clinging to the promise. Clinging to The Creator, The Sovereign Director of our lives. Clinging to the hope for something greater than this. And that is what I’m choosing to do. Since diagnosis, I have committed to standing in faith, having hope, and embracing joy. That doesn’t change now that I have read the statistics. If anything, it has concreted my faith, hope, and joy.
Numbers vs God. Guess who wins that battle?
Jeremiah 15:5-8 (MSG Version)
“Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows. But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers— Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.”