Today marks one year since I first heard the words “Merkel Cell Carcinoma” and the last time we woke up in the morning without the word “cancer” hanging over our heads.
Because it has been.
Every day of the last year has been lived in light of that one word.
In my mind, I see it like a flag waving over us, a banner going before us. To be honest, though, it sometimes feels more like a neon sign:
- Flashing over my husband’s half-bald head, “Cancer patient! Cancer Patient!”
- Blinking above me, “The one whose husband has cancer!”
- Lighting up over our little ones, “Daddy is sick!”
Almost every conversation comes back to it, and every relationship seems to revolve around it.
Except that they don’t.
That’s the balance we’ve been looking for, the tightrope walk of living a life that looks completely different than it did a year ago.
As we’ve tiptoed from one perilous perch to the next, we have found a few footholds of truth along the way.
First, friends are still fun, and their encouragement is essential. We have had so little time and even less energy, but brief visits, quick calls and talks over texts have helped keep us in community and eased the isolation we often felt. Also, listening to their problems has helped us think a little less about our own.
Family is the focus. We have had to be very intentional with our kids because we have spent so much time away from them. Even now, we know my husband might be starting another round of treatments that will take us away for a while so we try to make the most of all our moments with them. We’ve also been the focus of our family. My parents, sisters, and their families have stepped in and taken care of our kids time and time again. Their love filled the gaps our left by our absences during my husband’s treatments.
Finally, faith is the foundation. Today, a year after we first found ourselves asking “Why?”, we still don’t know. God has answered “How?” in many ways, and we still ask, “What now?” Each day is a test of faith and an opportunity to share it. Faith enables us to fight forward because cancer may feel like the flag flying over us, but the banner that goes before us is a much better one.
In fact, “the Lord is my Banner,” and “his banner over me is love.” (Exodus 17:15 and Song of Songs 2:4)
Believing he is over everything, including cancer, changes how we face it each day.
We can walk with confidence in the face of so much uncertainty because the Lord goes before us. He makes the way. (Isaiah 43:19)
We can rest in the battle because the Lord fights for us. (Exodus 14:14)
We can remain calm because “he himself is our peace.” (Ephesians 2:14)
How do you handle challenges each day? You might not be facing cancer, but there are battles before you. What do you do to remember that the Lord Our Banner goes before you? How does that change your attitude or help you overcome obstacles?