After my surgery last Thursday, I experienced an unexpected release of emotional pressure. Much of the fear and sadness and dread that I was feeling when my doctor first mentioned the possibility of Hodgkin’s lymphoma had suddenly subsided. I didn’t see that coming.
For the first few days after my initial diagnosis and the scheduling of my surgery, I couldn’t concentrate on anything that I was doing. Everything was just a momentary distraction from remembering what I was now up against, or contemplating what I might have to endure, or thinking about how my life was about to change, or reading about terrifying versions of my potential future on Google. After the surgery, however, it felt like I had completed a major milestone with no ill effects. High fives all around. I’m sure the comfort of having people aware of what I was going through played a large part in this newfound peace, too.
So for the past weekend and beginning of this week, my mind had been cleared of a lot of that initial anxiety. But as my appointment with the oncologist on Wednesday draws nearer, uncertainty still abounds and that old familiar feeling is creeping back into my chest.
Is this Hodgkin’s? Is this non-Hodgkin’s? Is this not Hodgkin’s at all? Somewhere a couple miles from where I’m sitting right now, there’s a jar of my neck tissue and a medical chart that have the answer. Well, maybe they don’t keep it in a jar. That might be weird.
But the truth is out there, and tomorrow a doctor will tell me everything. Then, hopefully, another doctor at the University of Chicago (I’ll wear purple) will tell me everything again on Thursday. Gotta get that second opinion.
So I admit that I’m getting a little anxious again. Concentration is slipping away as I dwell on the next couple spins in this Game of Life. I want to feel confident that I can beat whatever it is that I’m up against, but there’s a part of me that won’t allow me to truly believe that when I still don’t know what “whatever it is” actually is.
Many of the wonderful people in my life have reached out to ask how they can help me. I don’t have any real physical needs right now, but if you are Catholic, I would like to ask you to join me in praying a novena to St. Peregrine, the patron saint of cancer patients. I must confess that I didn’t know a novena from a novella until a couple years ago, but a novena is a Catholic prayer said for nine consecutive days for the intercession of a particular saint for your petitions. This novena is coincidentally (or providentially) being organized by the Pray More Novenas website to begin on January 19. If you sign up on the site, they will e-mail you the prayer on each of the nine days, so it’s easy to remember to do it. Even if you’re a Catholic who has fallen away from your faith a bit, I’d like to encourage you to give this a try. There are millions of cancer patients, cancer survivors and their families who could use your prayers, and this will only take about two minutes out of your day.
I have always been a firm believer in the power of prayer and I’ve already seen the fruits of prayer in this journey. It’s one of the only remedies I know for finding peace in uncertainty. Your prayers really mean a lot to me, so thanks for considering it!
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. –Phillipians 4:6-7