"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us."
Growing up, I had three moms.
My mom is in the middle, and her twin sisters - Sandra on the left, and Sheila on the right.
My mom had me at a young age, so for a looooooong time, I was the only child around. I was spoiled ROTTEN by my aunts. I can still remember dragging my barbie case to stay the night with them while they were in college. I can remember many, many nights of fingernail painting and hair fixing (which involved lots of hairspray and teasing - we're talking about the '80s here!) I can remember many car rides singing at the top of my lungs to Wilson Phillips. They took me on dates with their boyfriends, took me to work with them...I'm telling you, I was their little
Okay, I wasn't gonna share this little tid-bit, but I will embarrass myself on the worldwide web and tell you that Sandra and I were members of the Travis Tritt Fan Club. It's true. She would take me to concerts, we would get backstage passes, where I would then get kissed on the cheek by Travis Tritt. No lie. I still have a picture of me and Mr. Tritt and his nice long mullet. We were the real deal.
I can still remember the day I broke up with a high school boyfriend and Sheila was at the house...I woke up the morning after, sobbing...walked in the living room, and I can still see her sitting on the couch, I just sat down and she just cried with me. I can always count on them to feel what I'm feeling, to support me, to laugh with me, to cry with me -- to just "get it", ya know?
They decorated my wedding, and also rushed to the hospital/house when I had my babies. (Sheila lives in Indianapolis, and ended up driving to Kentucky when I had a false alarm....oops!) We don't mess around when it comes to babies!!!
I could recount memories for days, but the point is...my aunts are more than aunts to me. They have invested so much of themselves into my life, and have so much to do with who I am as a woman. The impression they left on my heart as a young child and even now, is something greater than any physical gift I could ever see or touch with my hands...the greatest kind of gift you could ever receive, and the kind of gift no one can ever take away from you. For that I am forever grateful.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Saturday, October 20, 2012 is the date we had marked on our calendar for months for our family reunion at my aunt Sandra's house.
The day finally came and we had lots of food and fun catching up with our extended family that we don't get to see very often. Toward the end the crowd started to thin out, and the more "immediate" family had stuck around.
Sheila asked all the women to come have a seat.
I heard the crack in her voice, and her face started to turn red.
Everyone asked what was going on, she said, "Just have a seat."
Then she said the words:
"I have been diagnosed with breast cancer."
My body got hot.
My ears closed.
I could see people crying and talking....
but it's like I couldn't even hear them...in that moment my tears couldn't even come.
All I could feel was anger.
All I could think was...seriously? Cancer...I'm so sick of you.
(For those of you who don't know me, see previous post about sister-in-law, Ali)
I stood up to hug Sheila. And about that time Sandra said, "I think I'm going to get sick."
She proceeds to run to the bathroom and vomit for the next five minutes. My mom, sobbing, follows her in there.
After a minute I go to offer some aid, grabbed a wet rag, and clipped her hair back. I wish I had a picture to post of her hair-do when she lifted her head up from the toilet. It was quite the comic relief.
We all began to just look at her and laugh - we didn't know what else to do.
Sheila went on to tell us that she went for her yearly mammogram. The doctor saw something that looked questionable and told her she would need to come in for a biopsy. She still didn't think much of it, and after the biopsy was over, they told her they would call her with the results.
They called her at home and just said, "You have breast cancer, we're going to need to schedule you to come in." Turns out it is a type of cancer, DCIS, in her milk duct, so it's not actually a place you can feel, it is contained in the left breast, thankfully, but there were two more spots that were questionable, and she would need another ultrasound the following week to see if there were more cancer cells.
Since then she has had the ultrasound, and the additional spots do not appear to be cancerous. First answered prayer on the journey! But now, she is meeting with several doctors to discuss radiation and surgery options...lumpectomy vs. mastectomy. Her life has pretty much been overtaken by decisions no one wants to have to make in the first place. This is so completely overwhelming physically, emotionally and financially. She is married to a wonderful man, my uncle Curt, and has three beautiful daughters - Olivia and Rachael are in college this year, and Allie is a senior in high school -- this is super hard for all of them as well.
Sheila is a pretty private person. But I wanted to blog her journey. For one, it will fill you all in, and keep you updated, without her having to personally fill all of you in. Two, we need ALL of your prayers. There is power in numbers, and I believe that God hears the cry of his people. Please pray for her, her family and her doctors during this time. Three, it's a great outlet for you to show Sheila your support!!! We need to shower her with our love and support, and encourage her during this fight. She is gonna need us behind her!!!
Specifically I need you all to be praying right now for the anxiety she is experiencing, and for the decision she faces on which procedure path to take.
Please pray that God will make it clear for her.
October 20, 2012.
The day we all learned the news.
The beginning of Sheila's journey.
Isn't she beautiful? Looks like a fighter to me ;)
I want to leave with this excerpt from my favorite devotional, "Streams in the Desert," by L.B.Cowman:
It is a comforting thought that trouble, in whatever form it comes to us, is a heavenly messenger that brings us something from God. Outwardly it may appear painful or even destructive, but inwardly its spiritual work produces blessings. Many of the richest blessings we have inherited are the fruit of sorrow or pain. We should never forget that redemption, the world's greatest blessing, is the fruit of the world's greatest sorrow. And whenever a time of deep pruning comes and the knife cuts deeply and the pain is severe, what an inexpressible comfort it is to know: "My father is the gardener."
John Vincent, a Methodist Episcopal bishop of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries and a leader of the Sunday school movement in America, once told of being in a large greenhouse where clusters of luscious grapes were hanging on each side. The owner of the greenhouse told him, "When the new gardener came here, he said he would not work with the vines unless he could cut them completely down to the stalk. I allowed him to do so, and we had no grapes for two years, but this is now the result."
There is rich symbolism in this account of the pruning process when applied to the Christian life. Pruning seems to be destroying the vine, and the gardener appears to be cutting everything away. Yet he sees the future and knows that the final result will be the enrichment of the life of the vine, and a greater abundance of fruit.
There are many blessings we will never receive until we are ready to pay the price of pain, for the path of suffering is the only way to reach them.
Sheila, I love you beyond words. I do believe that God is ABLE.
Able to do more than we could ask or imagine.
I know that He is with you, and goes before you,
and I have peace that he will protect you from harm.
He can take your sorrow and pain and turn it into your richest blessing.
We are thinking of you every moment, lifting you up in prayer throughout my days and nights.
You are giving me yet another reason to live life to the fullest...
and of course another reason to wear lots of pink :)))))
XOXOXOXOXO - Your Lou