Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6 & 7
Soon after my communication in February I began experiencing unfamiliar symptoms. I was enjoying my teaching at MSMC and my ministry involvement. As preparations began for Vacation Bible School and for the Fun Shop training session, my fatigue and discomfort became acute. One morning while teaching I experienced such nausea and weakness that I had to sit down for part of my precalculus class. I joked with the students assuring them that it was neither contagious nor terminal! Intense pain that made breathing uncomfortable became more and more frequent.
Despite the symptoms I continued with my ministry responsibilities. There was such joy in being able to serve once again! By the beginning of March, the Lord led me to withdraw from all responsibilities at church. Although this difficult decision was accompanied by a tremendous sense of loss, disappointment, and sadness, the Lord gave me a sense of peace in time.
Although the fatigue and breathing difficulties continued, I drove to Maine during my break. Paul insisted that I not drive straight through and made a reservation for me in Freeport. I had not been to Maine since Easter of the previous year. Joan, Paul, and I had some very special times together. Paul gave me a terrific chiropractic adjustment. They took me to the Algonquin Hotel in St. Andrews, N.B. for lunch one day. On the way back to Calais I became so tired that I fell asleep and later was so ill that I could not eat supper. I was able to drive straight through on the way home.
On March 25th I went to Sloan-Kettering for my annual appointment. At MSKCC I generally have blood work done upon arrival and can see the results on my iPad before meeting with the doctor. When I saw them, I called Joan and told her it was my liver. I knew she was praying. My dear doctor was very concerned. Since I find it easiest to deal with the worst-case scenario, I asked her what she thought it was in my case. Her response was “six months.” This was extremely sobering, but God sustained me, and I heard myself telling the doctor that although that seemed fast, I knew that my life belonged to God. I was scheduled for additional tests on March 27th. I was talking to Joan on my way back to Newburgh when I realized that someone from Sloan Kettering was trying to reach me. It was someone trying to schedule my next annual appointment. This made me laugh and I explained that the doctor had told me that I might only have six months to live, but then I suggested that we schedule the appointment and, if I died before then, someone would cancel it. I know that I have a strange sense of humor, but it does help me, and it was easier to call Joan back and relay the “humor.”
After asking for the prayers of many dear friends at my previous school in Hawthorne, N.J., a few close friends at church, and my close family, the peace of God sustained me as I continued to teach my classes at the college. The only one I told of my situation there was the very special administrative assistant in my department. I knew she would pray and could be trusted to keep things confidential. The result of those prayers was continued peace and rest.
After further testing I received word that the doctor wanted to meet with me on the following Monday. She had said that she would call me with the results, but this change of course made me think the worst.
Both the administrative assistant and my sister were concerned about me going to my next appointment alone, but I knew that I would be fine. Despite this, I got an email from a dear friend from church who asked me if she could go with me. This was a very special gift. I am learning that when God gives you a gift like that just take it!
One mistake I did make was googling liver cancer. That was very sobering indeed. I had thought that it would prepare me for the meeting with the doctor. It was a test of faith, but, as it turned out, not really applicable!
On Monday April I first met with one of the staff members who was very positive and upbeat. It took awhile for me to absorb what she was saying. Treatable, maybe ten years, lots of things to try, … I asked her about the liver cancer, and she gave me valuable clarification. It is not liver cancer; it is breast cancer that has traveled to my liver. That is an entirely different story! The “cancer dust” had finally manifested itself! The sense I have is that this cancer is treatable, but not curable. As soon as she left, Liz said, “Call Joan!” We have all known each other since I was a young teenager!
When the doctor joined us, her relief was evident! She was very encouraging. She prescribed oral chemotherapy, seven days on, seven days off. There is free next-day delivery to my home and so far, my Medicare and supplemental insurance has covered the cost of approximately $360 per month.
My subsequent meetings with the doctor have continued to be encouraging. Within a short period of time my breathing was pain-free, and the doctor could no longer feel the mass in my liver. She has commented that she did not expect such quick response to the medication. She remembered that I had said that there were people praying for me.
One thing of which I have become aware is the way in which I often will say that God is good when things are good. I have been reminding myself that He will continue to be good even when things do not seem good. But I will rejoice in the fact that my feet can keep in step with my happy heart! “The joy of the Lord is my strength!” Not my circumstances! BUT I am very thankful for those too!