I have very recently discovered a diary from mid-2002 that I had journalled in before we decided on whether or not I was going to have radiotherapy later that year. In this journal I talked about an appointment in March of that year where we had to weigh up the pros and cons of my having the treatment. I will directly quote the journal from here.
“We’ve just arrived home after my appointment with Dr Law regarding the question of whether to have radiotherapy or not. Also having been given the added extra of the long-term outlook with my tumour and that it will undoubtedly shorten my life-span.
This one hour’s appt has made this a huge day with overwhelming issues discussed and covered. There is the prospect of radiotherapy, but there is also the issue of when is the right time to have it – now, as a ‘pro-active’ way of stopping the tumor growing further, or once I am getting more symptoms from the tumor which would indicate further growth or change. What I am not so keen on though, is the prospect of these symptoms. Mr Law stated that once these symptoms had occurred they would be irreversible – I am not at all convinced at this stage that I want to wait until these symptoms occur.
Dr Law has also stated today that the tumour has changed, it has changed in form. Last week Dr Hepner (Mr Law’s registrar) stated that the tumor had ‘progressing’ nodules in it. This meant that the cancer cells were increasing in those areas, but not that they had spread outside the tumor. The tumor has not in any way spread, but it has increased in size, and any expansion in this area of the brain is of some concern.
Amongst all the ‘to deal with now’ things, the one thing that has thrown me the most was being reminded of my mortality. Dr Law stated that having the tumor will undoubtedly shorten my life-span. This is not something that I have ever accepted, nor something that I coped well with hearing really (not that that I ever show that in an appointment. One has to remain emotionally calm to take in all that is being loaded on.
But after an appointment like this there are just so so many things to think about. So many that one overloaded brain can’t possibly attempt to do so and cope. And yet, even when I’m not consciously aware that I’m thinking about it, I find myself trying to prepare myself for the ‘worst case scenarios’. I don’t know why my mind is automatically doing this again. After 2000, when nearly all the worst case scenarios did happen, I decided that I would never try and foresee what was going to happen as God would be with me at that time and give me the strength to go on. It’s the whole point of Matthew 6v. 34 (“therefore do not worry about your tomorrow as tomorrow will bring its own worries”). We should not be worrying about tomorrow (and the anxieties it may hold) as God promises to be there in that tomorrow.
You know, I think that the whole ‘worst case scenario’ thing is most certainly a defense mechanism. In mentally preparing oneself for the event you are somehow left with this false sense of security that if it was then to occur, you would be able to stay calm about it regardless.
Although I know that none of us are immortal; although I know that I am so blessed to have had the eight years that I have had (since I was diagnosed), I still find a small part of me crying out ‘please God, please let me have more’.
More chances for giving
More chances to communicate God’s peace to others through this foggy complexity.
My greatest desire of all is to fulfill God’s purpose for my life. It is something I have little control over, and something that I have to trust Him completely with. For He is the only one in all of this that does know all the answers, reasons and outcomes.
He is the only one that does know when the right time for me to have radiotherapy is. The only one that knows what the outcome of that will be. God is the only one that will be there with me through every moment of my today and my tomorrows. For aside from this entire tumor / radiotherapy thing, there is also the searing reality of this chronic ongoing pain, though I do feel that I am starting to manage that much better now days.
The reality is, that it is only through that pain that I have come to know the moment by moment comfort, assurance, peace and reality that God has on offer.”
What I found quite amazing in rediscovering and reading this journal entry is that we followed what we felt God was guiding us to do – for me to go ahead and have radiotherapy. Now, as a result of doing so, I no longer have a brain tumour. Even though Mr Law had said that my tumour would undoubtedly shorten my life-span, this is actually no longer the case.
It is extraordinary to me to see how God was faithful right from giving us as a sense of which direction to go in with the radiotherapy to, little by little, shrinking my brain tumour until our finding out in March 2013 that it no longer exists.
Something we have learnt over the years is to go where peace goes. God didn’t direct us about whether or not to have radiotherapy through words written in the clouds, nor a distinct vision, but rather that we began to feel complete peace and confidence that this was the right way to go.
It is hard to put in words how incredibly privileged, blessed and fortunate I feel that this was the case. I feel confidence in knowing that wherever God leads me is the right direction to go in. To know that even though I can’t see into my future that I can trust in the God who has known it since before I was born.