Wednesday, September 3, 2014

One Year Scans, Be Still My Soul

Esther completed treatment for Stage IV, High Risk Neuroblastoma one year ago.  She has been cancer free for one year.  This is a gift, a gift I am wrestling to receive without a "but".

While treatment for cancer isn't the kind of normal any of us would choose, but for the season, treatment was stabilizing.  It set the rules, set the pace, gave us boundaries.  Life was a caged, complicated simple.  For the last year we've floundered a bit trying to figure out new boundaries, a new pace, new rules in this strange reality where things like scans for cancer are a part of every day, no big deal, life.

Here comes a "but".  But it's not a normal part of life.  I wrongly feel an unspoken expectation, maybe assumption, that things like Esther's scans for cancer shouldn't be a big deal anymore.  In an effort to cope, I am nonchalant.  However, inside I'm screaming...tomorrow we are checking to see if one year later my daughter is still cancer free.

When Esther was first diagnosed our wonderful social worker shared a bit of wisdom.  She told us that young children are excellent at coping.  If they feel bad, they rest.  If they feel good, they play.  They don't worry about the next day or even the next hour.

I have been worrying about the next day.  If I own the angst in my stomach it leads to a flood of fear.  Broken and changed relationships, distance from others because germs will rule our lives, medicine, night after night away from my husband, living out of a suitcase, bloody noses, ports, stares, wondering, not getting to be the wife I want to me, being a distracted mother to my other children, losing my daughter.  When Esther was in the hospital and I was home, I would often set the table for 5 children and remember one wasn't there.  I had to put the 5th plate away because one wasn't there.  I worry about setting a table for 4 children.

So instead of actually owning or talking about the flooding emotions, I pretend it's all just an average day.  No big deal.  I'm not honest, and that's not good.  I don't want to be a burden.  I don't want to needy.  I wonder if people are tired of hearing about it.  I haven't been taking it to the throne where mercy and help is found because I feel like I shouldn't still have this need.  I don't think this is what the Lord would have for His children.  He would have us climb up and tell Him more.

I have been reminded, comforted by a hymn over the last several days.  The Lord is on MY side.  I can leave it all to MY God.  He will remain.  He will undertake.  He will care for me, take care of me.  This hymn has been the reminder I've needed.  The surge of anxiety is still there, but the Lord is on my side.  Bear patiently...patiently.  It's okay, it's not all over.  I can sigh relieved.  Patiently.  He will undertake this mess of a woman.

Here's the lyrics and a video so you can listen.

Be Still My Soul, Page CXVI

Be still, my soul, the Lord is on your side. 
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to your God to order and provide;
In every change, He will remain. 

Be still, my soul: your God will undertake 
To guide the future, as in ages past.
Your hope, your mind, your will let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love's joys restored.

Be still my soul
And praise him

Esther will have scans tomorrow, Thursday, and Friday.  The last three sets of scans have only been a CT scan, but I've requested a more detailed, MIBG scan for this round.  Not because there is anything glaring or necessarily worrisome, but there wasn't any blinding sign of cancer when she was first diagnosed.  I just want to be sure, to ease my fears of leg pains, a slow healing bruise, a cough she's had since November.

Thank you for praying for clean scans.

One more thing...September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.  After my recent Ice Bucket post, I want to focus on a couple areas.  I hope you heard my heart and my cry for us all to move beyond an awareness and really seek to meet others in that sacred space of empathy.  So, for this September I want to educate and encourage us all to take one step to meet another from a place of empathy.

For today there are two challenges.

  • I've created two pictures you could print and hang in your office, on your door or your mailbox.  Thank you to those of you who have shown social media love by sharing a picture or even changing your profile pic.  Thank you.  You can download and print one of these in a pdf format here.  

  • Write a thank you note to a pediatric oncology nurses or doctors.  Please imagine the lives of men and women who daily care for sweet, precious children who might die.  Imagine the care it takes for them to be gentle, to calm and comfort scared mommies and daddies, to see 1 in 5 of those children die.  Thank them for being brave and kind.  Tell them they are making a difference.  Share that you know it must be hard, but they are doing a good job.  Here's the address for the Children's Hospital in Colorado, but if there is a facility near you, look up the address.  

Children's Hospital Colorado
Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders
13123 East 16th Avenue
Aurora, CO 80045

Thank you for praying for Esther and for entering into empathy with others.  It's a wonderful, wonderful gift.  


  1. Lifting prayer for clean scans - and sending you my love and a big, big hug, dear one. Robin

  2. Praying for clean scans and your heart to be at peace.

  3. I love all of you and I pray for clean scans may peace come to you. Love Aunt Pegi