"Even now in death, you open doors for life to enter....
And everything that's new has bravely surfaced, teaching us to breathe And what was frozen through is newly purposed, turning all things green
So it is with you and how you make me new, with every season's change And so it will be as you are re-creating me" - Nichole Nordeman
I've sat to write this update several times and just haven't been able to form the words. Even now I don't really know how to get this all out, so please excuse my writing and the length of this post. When I look back over the past three months the range of emotions is almost overwhelming. Part of me has hesitated to share for fear that some might think this to personal. But fear aside I know God has placed me on this journey for a reason and my heart has always been to share the joys, heartache, challenges of infertility and adoption in hopes that others on the same journey might find encouragement and ultimately that God would be glorified.
This past August God opened a door for Patrick to serve at an amazing church in same city as my parents. As hard a decision to pack up and relocate to a new state, we knew this was where God was leading...we had no idea at the time just how much God had orchestrated this move for more than just a job change. Life became a whirlwind of activity with just three weeks to pack up and move.
Just a few days before my birthday, with one week to go and a house full of boxes we were moving right along. I dropped into bed and stretched out to get comfortable when I noticed a lump in my stomach. It was not a small lump, but one that felt like a small baseball. We determined that it was probably nothing serious and I made a doctors appointment for the following day. I had no pain and no symptoms, just an odd lump in my stomach. After only moments of being with the doctor it became evident this was more serious than I had imagined. In a very matter of fact and nonchalant way the doctor turned my world upside down...
"Looks like you have a fibroid tumor. They will just do a hysterectomy and get it all out. We will do blood work to rule out cancer and send you for an ultrasound. You are young, but trust me this is a good thing."
In that moment everything went silent and I felt completely numb. My heart sank and my eyes began to well with tears. Cancer...fibroid tumors...hysterectomy...a good thing...? Just a hysterectomy...it's not JUST a hysterectomy to someone who has hung on to hope for 15 years. My face must have said it all as the sweet nurse handed me a box of tissue and told me not to worry these tests were all precautionary.
Due to being able to feel the tumor they rushed an ultrasound for the next day. As the sweet sonographer began to work she must have seen the weight on my face. She turned the monitor toward me and pointed out not just one large, but four small tumors. As odd as it may sound, in that moment waves of peace seemed to rush over me as I stared at that screen, not really knowing what I was looking at but thankful for an answer. She finished the test, reassured me that this is very common and proceeded to apologize that this was all happening to me so young. She asked if I had children and I shared with her how we had adopted. No sooner did I get those words out then she shared how she had been unable to get pregnant and was considering adoption. We talked for a bit about the process and I left. I am always amazed how God uses my current circumstances to bring hope and joy to others walking this road.
Within an hour of leaving I was called back for an MRI to get a closer look. Within 24 hours we had preliminary results that confirmed 5 tumors. Just days later the cancer test came back negative. The doctors’ determined it would be best to wait until we moved to proceed with treatment. The next week was spent saying our goodbyes and traveling from Nebraska to Georgia. Thanks to my cousin who lives in the area, and the absolute sovereignty of God, I was able to get in with a great doctor just 2 days after arriving in the area.
With films in hand and a stack of medical reports I headed in for what I thought would be a very easy appointment. I had told everyone I would be fine to go on my own. In my mind I knew surgery was inevitable and had fervently prayed that if it be Gods will these tumors would disappear. I could feel my cheeks get warm and the waves of discouragement wash over me as I sat in my seat filling out paperwork, surrounded by beautifully glowing mom's to be. How I longed to switch seats, to be there for the excitement of new life, rather than the heartache of this harsh reality. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and prayed for strength. They called my name and I was escorted me back to the doctors personal office. Moments later she came in and once again what I thought was a very routine visit took a serious turn. She explained the size of the tumors, coupled with serve anemia, were consistent with Leiomyosarcoma or cancer within the muscle tissue, and at this point it would be best to see an oncologist. The largest tumor was so massive it was as though my body thought and looked like it was three months pregnant, which explained the weight gain and distention in my stomach.
She ran a few more tests, referred me to an oncologist and apologized that this was happening to me at such a young age. As she comforted me and the tears began to fall she asked if I was okay. I was honest, sharing with her how hard this had all been and with all the strength I could muster I said the only thing I knew to be certain "but I know God's got this" . I collected myself and headed to my car, quickly dialing the number to the oncologist office. It only took moments of explaining the situation for them to schedule me to be seen 2 days later. As I hung up the phone I fell to pieces, how was this happening.
For 48 hours it felt as though everything were surreal. I spent time praying and pleading with God for healing. Every time I looked at my husband and my son my heart would sink a bit lower and I would remind myself again God's got this and He's got me! I continued to speak those words as I walked through the doors of the oncologist office with my hubby by my side. From the moment we entered his office the waves of peace seemed to come, one right after the other. Within no time we were meeting with the oncologist and hearing an answer to our biggest prayer. These tumors looked normal, not cancerous. This wouldn't be definitive until the tumors were out and had gone to pathology, but he was certain their was nothing to be concerned about. He explained the robotic surgery (which is pretty amazing I might add) and in the most gentle way possible, asked if we were planning to have any more children. I explained we were settled with all that had happened and we understood the permanency of this surgery as it relates to pregnancy. He, like so many others, apologized that this was happening to me at a young age. At this point I was getting use to hearing that same sentiment.
Two weeks later I headed into surgery. That morning was so peaceful, as if all of you were praying simultaneously. As they wheeled me through the doors of the OR my eyes locked onto all the surgical equipment. Immediately my heart began to race and my body began to shake, either from the emotions or the cold air within the room. The finality had finally become reality. No longer would there be a possibility of birthing children. It was the exclamation point on a the most painful road He has asked me to walk. Yet in that moment it's as if God bent down, scooped me up in His arms and His heart broke with mine. As my eyes began to well with tears the precious surgical nurse grasped my hand, stroked my hair and reminded me everything was going to be okay. My Gods got this and He's got me! Over and over I repeated those words. Within moments I was drifting off to sleep with worship songs running through my mind.
Two hours.... for two hours they worked to get everything out safely. I spent my first night ever in the hospital; I never could have imagined it would be for this reason. The nurses on my floor were so understanding and did all they could to keep me comfortable.
It has been almost a month since surgery and recovery has been slow, but God has been teaching me so much during this time. I can look back upon all that has happened and see how God's hand has been upon this situation. He has shown up in ways I never could have imagined....
The discovery of the tumors before they ruptured
Being pain free with absolutely no way to explain it other than the sovereignty of God
Having this happen after we moved so we would be near family
Jaedon having Grandma to care for him while I was in the hospital
The chance to minister to the sonographer who struggled with infertility herself
The surgical tech who reminded me I belong to Jesus and He has my back
The appointments that miraculously opened when they should have taken months
My oncologist who is one of the top surgeon in his field in the US and a specialist in robotic surgery
The surgical nurse who seemed more like a mom and held my hand until I fell asleep
Pathology reports confirming no cancer (PRAISE JESUS)!
The hospital staff who were so kind, gentle and encouraging
Our Crossroads Church family...Where do I even start! From praying over and for me to providing meals and cards and visits and texts and calls. We are SO blessed!
There is still recovery left, both physically and emotionally. I've heard the hardest part is over, I pray that to be so. There are still moments the heartache is deep and the hurt is very real, but that is a different post for a different day. The finality has become a new reality for me and He has begun to write a new chapter in our life. Just as the lyrics at the top of this post, he is re-creating me and while a part of my life has died another has taken on new life. God has continued to confirm what He placed in my heart so many years ago, a burden for orphans and adoption. I have no doubt the tears will fall in a whole new way when I see the faces of the babies God has chosen for us, out of this present heartache will come greater joy than I could begin to comprehend, of that I am confident!
Thanks for hanging in there with us; more updates about our adoption are coming, for now I will leave you the link to the beautiful song above. I pray it will encourage your heart, as it has mine.