Last Friday we meet our oncologist for the first time. (My husband and I refer to her as Monica Lewinsky because …well…the name just fit). But she wasn’t a good fit for us – to say the least.
Maybe it was because we didn’t like the excruciating treatment plan she laid out, or maybe it was misplaced anger because we just don’t like any part of this story, maybe it was because she didn’t welcome any of our questions…or maybe it was because she said to my husband, “Why don’t you take notes instead of just sitting there looking pretty.” I’m not quite sure !!??
Yesterday I felt like my head was in a pencil sharpener. I was exhausted and could hardly think straight. I was able to schedule two consults with oncologists who came highly recommended, so that was good. But at the same time, it’s been almost 4 weeks and I am tired from the waiting and the worrying and the wondering.
But last night…last night everything changed. Everything. Last night I went to my first meeting with a Christian support group for women with breast cancer.
13 years ago my friend Maggie was diagnosed with breast cancer and she connected with two amazing women – Diane and Martha – who were also going through breast cancer. The three of them realized how helpful it was to journey together and to be able to support one another, and from there they began the Comfort Club.
The purpose of the group stems from scripture found in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort , who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”
Last night they offered me comfort.
It’s kind of funny, (but not that funny) that over the years I have heard many amazing stories from the Comfort Club and there were times when I kind of wished I could just go and sit in a corner just to experience it. Well…I got my wish.
The evening started out with greeting and hugs. I’m talking strong – you-can-do-this kind of hugs from people who know. Shortly after we got settled, they asked me to share what is going on with me and how I am feeling. I can’t quite explain the comfort I felt as I locked eyes with each of them as they nodded their heads with empathy and understanding.
The topic of the evening was HOPE. Maggie shared a beautiful story of hope from author John Eldredge having gone through one of the most difficult times of his life. I hung onto every word.
Each of the women shared their stories along with how they found HOPE along the way.
As they shared their stories something shifted in my heart. It wasn’t just their stories that gave me hope – it was the women themselves. They are different. They are strong – resilient – wise. They have wicked sense of humors.
They are women who don’t quit and don’t feel sorry for themselves. In fact, towards the end of the evening one of the women said, “I feel blessed that I had cancer.” Which was followed by every single woman gently saying, “me too”…”me too…” “me too…”. They feel blessed that they had cancer.
These women have the kind of faith that is grounded in a TRUST in God – NO MATTER WHAT. Unshakeable – unmoveable faith.
Instead of having my head in the pencil sharpener, I found myself humbled that God would allow me to walk the same journey that these women had walked. They referred to it as a “pilgrimage”. I looked up the word pilgrimage and it is described as a “holy expedition”. I like that. And maybe as I am on this pilgrimage I will become a woman who is more like them.
One of the gals shared that many times she felt like a flag hanging on a flagpole. When a storm would rage, she clung to the pole as tight as she could while she was blown all over the place. She clung to Jesus with every bit of strength she had…until the storm would pass.
She actually demonstrated what she felt like, which threw us into gales of laughter and yes, you probably needed to be there to appreciate how funny it was. But that visual will forever remain etched in my mind. She inspired me to have that kind of faith.
They stuck out their jaws when I told them about Ms. Lewinsky and stood with me in outrage. Yet, at the end of the evening one lovely woman suggested we should pray for her…oh. They all nodded their heads and wrote down her “name” in their prayer journals. That’s the kind of women they are.
When Martha prayed the closing prayer she spoke the words of Isaiah 41:10. I could not believe it. In the first 24 hours of my “pilgrimage” that verse was given to me from 4 different woman – and I consider it to be God’s Word to me. Tears rolled down my cheeks because I knew He was reminding me just one more time. Or as Maggie said, He may have been slapping me up the head just a little bit.
”Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
They sent me off with scarves and hats and told me where to get wigs that will give me the kind of hair I have always dreamed of having. Eyebrows – eyelashes – and…ah..well…there are some things discussed in the Comfort Club that should stay in the Comfort Club.
One of the women shared how in the beginning of her journey, her oncologist told her she was staring down a challenge that was just inches from her face and all consuming. And that over time it would eventually get farther and farther and farther away from her face …until one day it would be in the rear view mirror.
As I was leaving for the night she said to me, “So five months of chemo sounds like a long time…what were you doing five months ago?” I said, “I was just starting to dream about summer…and now I am so sad that summer is almost over.” And she smiled and gave me that strong you-can-do-it kind of hug. Before I know it, I will be looking in the rear view mirror.
Until next time,