Waiting Room

(a look back at my journey through cancer)

There's something about a waiting room at a doctor's office that is both unsettling and bonding all at the same time.  You find yourself in a room full of strangers knowing that a common thread has brought each one to a particular doctor.  In this case, the bond was formed because of the "C" word.  Cancer, or hints of it, was the glue sticking us together in this uncomfortable setting.

As I looked around I noticed women of all different ages.  Several were younger than me and my heart immediately went out to them.  What news must they be facing?  Where had their course taken them so far?  Who had already had surgery and who would be getting the news that day?  There were several groups of three, mostly an older husband and wife with their adult daughter.  I wondered which woman had the cancer – older or younger.  Who was supporting who?

I was a young adult when I had accompanied my mom on many of her appointments during her battle with cancer.  In fact, ironically enough, my mom was the age I am now when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  What fear she must have experienced, yet she walked through it all so gracefully.  Her journey lasted two years and then God mercifully called her home.

Many days I am battling my own thoughts of maybe I only have 2 years left like my mom.  It's this strange mix of fear, grief and trust.  To add to my mental drama, the date of my surgery is my mom's birthday.  I know it's ridiculous to toy with these thoughts, but there is this sense of doom – of it being some kind of omen of terrible things to come.

As I take every thought captive and begin again acknowledging who God is and expressing my faith in Him,  the Holy Spirit brings that ever-desired peace.

I will love the Lord, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him.  Deuteronomy 30:20.  I will be strong and courageous, not terrified, for the Lord my God goes with me.  He will never leave me or forsake me.  Deuteronomy 31:6.

Again this week I will find myself in another waiting room at a hospital.  I will be there waiting with God, waiting on God and waiting for God.  And, you know… He's worth the wait.

(original writing was August 2008, as I was facing a complete hysterectomy due to the pre-cancer cells mentioned in previous post)

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Its Going to be Good

(a look back at my journey through cancer)

I'm not sure where the misunderstanding took place, but I thought I was home free as far as my health was concerned.  The biopsy during surgery had come back clear, no cancer- everything looking good.  So, when my Dr. called stating that he wanted to discuss the findings of my pathology report, I thought he was just going to re-iterate all the good news he had previously shared with Ed in the waiting room.

"There are pre-cancer cells in the uterus which need to be treated," he began saying.  The familiar drop in my stomach and light-headed feeling was instantly there.  This was the first day I felt completely healed, back to normal, a sense of freedom from all that had happened.  Now, I was being thrust right back into medical turmoil.

As the doctor elaborated on the recent findings, it became clear that I would be heading back to surgery.  I hung up the phone and tried to get my bearings.  How had this been missed in the first biopsy?  Why did God allow it to be missed?  He could have easily had those pre-cancer cells pop up onto the microscope slides.  It took about an hour of misery and questioning God before I came back to my senses and fell to my knees.  I knew there would be no peace until I surrendered.  Waving the white spiritual flag, I humbly thanked God for my current crisis.  James 1:2-4 became my battle cry of surrender to my loving Heavenly Father.

"Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be complete, not lacking anything."

To be complete in Christ, not lacking anything is what I desire.  It is a privilege to be headed toward that goal this side of heaven.

"It's going to be good,"  is the quote God has laid upon my heart for this next surgery and spiritual season.  I believe God has promised me the gift of joy as I continue to thank Him and trust Him.

It's going to be good because I know the One who is incredibly good.  He's a personal friend of mine.

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Purple Folder

(more of the story…)

I thought I had covered all my bases.  I seemed to be the one making all the phone calls, confirming I had all the right information  So, as I walked into the hospital for my pre-op requirements, I was confident I was in the correct location.  The receptionist, however, was beginning to slightly panic.  She kept repeating to me, "But you don't have a purple folder.  We need a purple folder.  All of our patients have a purple folder.  You should have a purple folder." 

On the inside I was screaming back to her, "Please don't say the phrase PURPLE FOLDER one more time!"

We all took a minute to regroup and without much difficulty figured out where I needed to go.  As I began this second leg of my pre-op journey, the tears were fighting to be released.  I was wishing I had brought a friend with me, someone to help shoulder the emotional weight of it all.

There were 3 different tests to complete for my pre-op.  With two down and one to go, I was headed for the dreaded blood test.  I don't do well with blood draws at all.  It is pretty much guaranteed it will take four attempts and a spinning room to get through it.  I rounded the corner, looked up and saw a wonderful friend of mine.  This friend is someone who I don't necessarily speak to every week, but just seems to be there at all the right times in life.  I would say she is a "life-encourager" to me.

In the next few minutes I was able to bring her up-to-date on all that I was facing.  She expressed how much she cared and that she would be praying.  It's those quick moments of encouragement that can make all the difference – the "I've got your back" (in prayer) kind of moments.  

God has this way of showing up, many times in the form of His church body- just to let us know He's watching, He's there and not a detail is escaping His notice.

And, as far as the blood work went, one try- no pain- and no spinning room.  Now in my book… that's a miracle!!

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Losing Control

(I've stalled long enough.  This begins my cancer story.  Summer 2008…)

It was not what I expected to hear.  What I thought would be a rather low-key doctor appointment had ended with the dreaded word, "surgery."  My head was spinning and the facts were not registering at all.  "Do you have any questions?" …someone seemed to be saying.  Questions?  Yes, what just happened here?  My life was about to be interrupted and no-one had asked me how I felt about that.

A cystic mass was found in my right ovary.  The only option was to remove it (the ovary).  My doctors were not overly alarmed, but a biopsy was needed very soon.  I was devastated – definitely did not see this one coming.

It is always a humbling and, frankly, rather upsetting moment when you realize you are not in control.  What do you do in and with that moment of realization?  Panic?  Cry?  Get depressed – just go to bed and not deal with it?  I have tried all of these choices and none have brought any long-term comfort.

I have learned through many failed responses to trials that the only way to make it is to humble myself before God and express to Him my complete trust in His ability to be in control.  I must again acknowledge His authority in my life.  I will trust His character because He is trustworthy.  I do not want to have surgery, but – I trust God.  If it will be a vehicle which He uses to take me to a deeper friendship with Him – count me in.  If God has a plan to use my current health crisis as a testimony of His unsurpassing greatness – so be it.  I wouldn't want to miss it. 

So, as I sit here today waiting for the phone call to confirm the date of my surgery, I am praying that God will help me get out of His way and allow me to relinquish control over my life.
"For I know the One in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him…"  2 Timothy 1:12 (NLT).

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Master’s Degree

“But kids… I have a master’s degree!”

Jessica and Cory sat across the table from me, completely unimpressed.  My credentials and reputation in the educational world meant nothing to them.  I was just their mom, and they needed to know that I loved them unconditionally, more than they needed my resume.  I, however, needed to be validated, acknowledged, admired-  anything.  Give me something that would motivate me to continue this challenging road of homeschooling.
I thought God had called me to school my children at home, but in reality, I was the one being stripped of myself, my identify… and educated in the principles of Godly ways.  Lesson 1:  my lack of God’s righteous character.  Painful.  I was SO tired of the junk in my life and heart, and God was answering my cry for change by the vehicle of home-educating.  What a moment of revelation.  The homeschooling was more about me than them.  As God would change me, I would become a compassionate minister to my family.
There are many days when I want to flee from this calling.  “Please God, not me.  Choose another to head up this educational charge for Jess and Cory,”  all the while thanking God for allowing me to be the one personally selected for this task.  
God grant me mercy for this day, this moment in time with these… my two personal gifts from you.  Take my master’s degree and make it truly a degree of The Master.



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Olivia Grace

This week is a very special anniversary.  Two years ago our long journey of finalizing Olivia's adoption was brought to a legal completion as we appeared before a judge to sign all the necessary papers. While it had not been a difficult journey to get to this date, it had been a lengthy one.  She was 19 months old.  I want to recapture the moment for you because it was an incredible one.  Last week of Feb., 2008…

As we prepared for the court date I tossed around the idea of inviting a few people to go with us.  I pretty much decided against it because our past experience had been one of an uneventful, five minute deal with a non-emotional judge.  I did, however, invite one of our good friends and her two children to come along for support, take a few pictures and basically let her experience a bit of the process as she, too, would someday love to adopt. 

I called my good friend, Wendy, the morning of Feb. 22 and tried to talk her out of coming with us. The more I thought about it, the more I felt the sacrifice of her family's time to get there would just not be worth it.  She wouldn't hear of it and was committed to coming.  Little did we know what was in store for all of us.

We arrived at the courthouse, meeting up with our attorney.  This was to be his last court appearance for an adoption which was just so meaningful to me with the whole "closure experience" I was having.  As we were ushered in to the courtroom, we were greeted with much warmth by a friendly bailiff who said, "Do you have your cameras with you?"  Already, this was so different from before.  Immediately the judge approached us, introducing herself.  As Jessica and Cory stated their first names she responded with, "Oh, and you are the big sister… and the big brother."  Very personable!  At this point, Olivia was wild!!  …insisting on getting down to run around the place and scope it out.  The judge along with the bailiff steered her toward a bucket of prizes that she could choose from.  This was just the beginning of knowing we were about to experience a very special time together with these kind, considerate officials.

The judge acted as if she had all the time in the world to meet with us.  She was definitely allowing us to take in the moment and what it all means.  After we signed some papers it was her turn to place the final signature on the adoption court order.  before she would do that, she had us, while holding Olivia (okay, trying to hold Olivia…WILD) repeat after her a poetic prayer entitled, "Our Promise to Olivia."  While I know this is getting lengthy, I just have to include it because it was so, so meaningful.

Our Promise to Olivia
We, Ed and Lori
Solemnly swear to treat Olivia
In all respects as our natural child.
We are prepared to accept
This gift of a child to raise.
We will share our lives with her
Help to mold her mind
Nurture her body
And enrich her spirit.

We will never betray her trust
Dampen her hopes or
Discourage her dreams.

We will be patient and kind
We make this commitment willingly.
We will cherish Olivia
All the days of our lives.

When we got to the phrase, "This gift of a child," I lost it!  I was overcome with emotion as I thought about the gift to our family that she is, and just the completion of an incredible miracle God did in our lives.  

The judge then posed for pictures with us, congratulating us and still acting as if this was her most important appointment of the day.  It was beyond special to us, like nothing we had ever experienced.  As we left her courtroom, we then walked to the Dept. of Birth Records where we filed the papers to receive a new birth certificate which will state, "Olivia Grace Margo born to Ed and Lori Margo."   It is such a picture of what God does in our lives through the gift of salvation!

I Peter 5:10 states that after we have suffered for a little while, God will bring strength and restoration.  In my Bible study this week we were asked to cite a time when God chose a trial for you.  Mine would definitely be infertility.  That specific, God-ordained trial brought me to a deeper walk of faith and much God-given strength.  As far as restoration, it brought… Jessica Katherine, Cory Edward and Olivia Grace MARGO.

God is so worth praising!  I hope as you read this your response will be that of Psalm 44:1.  "God, we heard what you did."  And, verse 8, "All day long we talk about how great God is.  We will praise your name forever."  

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