Deja vu – but worse. So, so much worse. That’s the only way I can think of to describe what we’ve been through this last month.
A month ago, on January 14th, 2016, I went to the hospital and was told a shock diagnosis.
I was told my body was fighting an aggressive form of breast cancer.
I’m 26. I have absolutely no family history of it. And yet they told me the diagnosis was a grade III, stage 3(c) triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma which, according to the doctors, will require surgery and possibly more. Unbelievable. Unthinkable.
It still doesn’t feel real. It feels like a dream that I’m going to wake up from any minute. Even when I talk about it, it feels like I’m talking about someone else. Distant. Far, far out of reach. And yet over the last month, with the never ending tests, ultrasounds, biopsies, mammograms and consultations with surgeons and oncologists, it’s become agonizingly real. Too real.
I thought I knew the extremes of emotions a human can feel. It turns out I didn’t know the least of it. It’s the same feelings all over again that we felt when we first heard our 21-month old son’s diagnosis of Down Syndrome – shock, disbelief, anger, denial, despair, fear of the unknown and of the future. The same feeling of being blindsided and hit by a monster truck with no warning. Times those feelings by ten thousand, and it comes close to what we’ve been hit with this last month.
The first two weeks were the hardest. I was exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually. But somehow after the initial onslaught of emotions being ravaged and getting so angry my husband had to stop me from punching through the car window; after all the tears had been spent and questions of why had been thrashed out; after it felt there was nothing but emptiness left inside me, somehow, this inexplicable peace started slowly filling the void inside. It was as if I could feel heaven’s tears and I knew – I was not alone in this. I would get through this.
The last few weeks I’ve felt closest to Heaven that I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve felt a deep peace and joy that make absolutely no sense, given the circumstances. The important things in life have become more real and clear to me than ever before, and all the unimportant things have faded into the background. My faith in God and personal experience of him as a kind, good father has been what I’ve clung on to; it has given me strength when I felt I had none left. It has carried me through these last few weeks and become more real than this tempest that has been raging around me. It feels as though I’ve been taken above the dark clouds to a place where I can somehow, unbelievably be at rest and have hope – despite the circumstances surrounding me.
I know that this is not the will of God. Though I believe He is all powerful, I have been searching it out the last few weeks and I also believe that His desire for us to have free will and love Him freely is more important to Him than the ability to exercise power and to control and micro-manage our lives. We live in a broken world where terrible things happen as a result of this. This does not mean that He makes these things happen. I believe it grieves Him when things like this happen more than anything we could feel in our finite human emotions. I have felt Him closer than ever before in the last few weeks, and I know that His will is for me to be healed from this.
I don’t know what that will look like. It could be an instant supernatural miracle (which is what we’re hoping and praying for), or it could be through doctors, treatment or other ways. I’ve been learning there is no formula; there’s no way to predict what He will do. As C.S. Lewis wrote in the Chronicles of Narnia: “He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” But this I know – He has a plan for me, to prosper me and give me hope for my future; whatever that may look like. Something my sister said to me that she heard from a teaching by Danny Silk has helped me through this time – that instead of having specific expectations of what will happen, we need to live in a state of constant expectancy. We don’t know what will happen, but we do know the promises that we’ve been given. And we can know that these promises will happen somehow. This is the rock I’ve been clinging on to. We know that though it seems like there’s a fierce army at our backs and a sea of unknown ahead of us, He will split this sea so that we can walk through it.
We have had so much support these last few weeks. We’ve been surrounded by incredible family and friends throughout this whole time that we feel so, so thankful for. So many people have been supporting us, praying for us, believing with us for a miracle and offering to help in practical ways. We appreciate all of you more than we can say. All of this has helped us get through the difficult time we’ve been going through.
What’s helped us the most though, after our faith, is our son. This boy, so full of life and joy and personality, has been the furthest thing away from being a burden or added difficulty as most would think having a small child with Down Syndrome and additional needs would be during this time. He has been the opposite – he’s been a bringer of joy and a reminder of the good things in life. No matter how low I feel; no matter how weighed down I may be feeling, I can’t help but laugh when I’m with him. He is constantly laughing, doing his party tricks of animal noises and raspberry-blowing, doing whatever he can to make people laugh – his favourite thing to do in life it seems. His latest thing is taking your head in his hands, holding your cheeks and putting his face as close to yours as possible, and doing what we call an ‘old man laugh’ – not letting go or even letting you turn your head away until he gets you laughing back. He seems to have this uncanny ability to read people’s emotions and know exactly what they need in that moment – whether that’s to make you laugh when you’re down or reach up to give you the tightest hug he can when you need it the most. I am so thankful for this boy. I know he will help us through whatever this next chapter of our lives may be.
I don’t know what the future will look like. But I do know that we can trust that even this, like so many other storms we’ve been through in the past, will somehow be turned around for our good. I am thankful for having family and friends around us, supporting us and being there for us. I know I’ll get through this – and that I won’t be alone in it. I’m continuing to live in expectancy. And I know that though it feels like we’re walking an impossible road with walls of water on either side and though it feels like this night will never end, we will come through it and the light will come. It’s just a matter of time.
8 thoughts on “The day our world stopped turning.”
Dearest Esther!!! My heart is hurting, and overflowing with tears. This is shocking and overwhelming news to hear and yet you still write so beautifully and with great encouraging faith and peace. I have looked up to you so much and now even more. You inspire us to trust, to have faith and most of all to engage in a spiritual battle for you – Prayer!
Just today I was reminded of the power of prayer in God’s word, that our battle is spiritual. And the way we battle spiritual wars is through prayer, and proclaiming the true word of God. The sword of the spirit is the one thing in the whole armor of God that isn’t only defensive but is also offensive against the enemy.
When we acknowledge the power of the word of God we are attacking with the sword of the spirit, and effectively making a change in the spiritual wars in our lives and others.
With that my dear I am standing in passionate prayer for your life. for the Lord’s desire for you to be made known daily. for His strength to fill you and lift you, and most of all for His healing touch to come upon you, heal and restore you completely.
Thank you for being already such a great witness of the power of God, and his peace.
Love you so much hand lifting you up before the throne of grace and our loving Savior.
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I’ve never met you but my son Brady Rather shared your story with me. I will be praying for you and expecting God’s goodness to be revealed to you every step of this journey.
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Esther, youre an amazing woman, mother, wife , person and I have been praying non stop for you! You wrote this soooo beautifully and I thank you for pouring your heart out. I believe you will touch many more lives than you already have. You are an inspiration to me. As I sat and read through this thinking of the 2 week old baby Esther I held at the age of 12 when we went to Europe and your sister Bethany and I were just in awe of you. Well, I still am. I fully believe that you will be healed and am so thankful God has given you joy through this. I love you and consider you more a sister than my cousin.
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Hi esther, you don’t know me, but, I know laura e., and she put thus out on fb, to have prayer for you. I am a breast cancer survivor of 20 years and I’m doing fine. Mine was stage 3 as well. But, GOD IS GOOD and brought me thru it and he will bring you thru it as well. If you have questions or concerns, please let me know, I’m there for you. In HIS name, bev f.
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Esther I can only say that I recognise some of those feelings, I was holding an unhappy little boy in my arms the night his mother ( our daughter in law ) died. That was some years ago.
I realised she would never see him in his first school uniform. I asked God for the strength to get through the month, the year, his life. To offer what support I could as a Grandparent.( as I type this the tears are returning ). I am not a member of your family and I am a bloke.
AS I read your Blog I see you have covered a lot of ground. Now when people say nothing in Life is certain I understand that. WE are not spared pain of heartache or indeed heartbreak. God is with us in the journey and can provide enough Grace and poise to get us through the day, the month the year, the life.
I will be praying sister for all of you, our door is always open.
In a worship song “Blessed be your name” is the line “There is pain in the offering.” Yep felt that but as an act of will we declare” Blessed be his name”. It took me about two years to be able to sing that song with enthusiasm.
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Esther, I recognise that crazy peace that you describe . I had it through my experience of lung cancer after a conversation with my Father in heaven about leaving it all in his hands and trusting Him that His will would be done. It left me changed for ever and I am still here! May you continue to rest in His peace and I pray for what He has planned for you to come to fruition asap!
Love and blessing upon blessing, Margaret xxx
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