A bump in the road

(Literally and figuratively…)

* * *

Two days before I left for Zambia on a mission trip with my family, I noticed a bump in my neck under my skin. It felt pretty big, so I went to the doctor the next day to get it checked out. The PA I met with said it was just a swollen lymph node coming along with seasonal allergies and that I should take allergy medicine. Relieved, I spent ten amazing days in Zambia and didn’t talk to my doctor again for a couple of weeks before letting her know nothing in my neck had changed. My doctor prescribed me an antibiotic, which I had a severe allergic reaction to (hey, sometimes you gotta find out the hard way) and also didn’t help my neck. On Monday, August 4th, I went in to see my doctor, and she told me to get a biopsy done. The next day I had a fine needle aspiration biopsy, and two days later on August 7th, I found out it was thyroid cancer.

Everything happened in one week, crazy antibiotic reactions (full body rash, high blood pressure, upset stomach), getting stabbed with eight needles in two days, having six vials of blood drawn, two ultrasounds and one CT scan, two nighttime ER visits, and (still continual) anxiety attacks. It’s been a lot to handle, but the hardest part was not having answers. Now that I know what’s wrong with me, I’m a little more calm and able to figure out what to do from here.

The doctors gave me very good news. They said I have papillary thyroid carcinoma, and that out of all types of cancer, this is one of the most curable. They’ve said repeatedly that I shouldn’t be concerned, that it will all be taken care of with surgery to have my thyroid removed and a radioactive treatment afterwards. They said I’ll take thyroid pills for the rest of my life that will give me all the hormones and chemicals your thyroid produces, so my body won’t even know it’s gone (how truly amazing is modern medicine???). Plus, it’ll regulate my body temperature and keep my metabolism high (not too shabby, if you ask me). They said these pills won’t affect anything about my future and that I’ll be able to live normally and have a family and forget about it. This is all such good news, and I’m so incredibly thankful.

The only thing is, I know as all this is happening, I shouldn’t be trying to forget any of it. I believe God does not cause bad situations but that He uses each one for His glory. My gut instinct is to squeeze my eyes tightly shut and wait for this to all be over. But I don’t think that’s the reaction that most honors God. I don’t want to look back on this in a few months when I’m healthy and think with regret Wow, I could have declared God’s name much louder than I did.

I’m not a very loud person in general, but my writing is. I’m sure I post too many blogs for some of you (sorry), but this is one of the places God has called me to make His name great. This is one of the places where I’ve seen Him use me the most consistently, and it’s here I return to say He is good.

He is good to have placed me at home for this season and not in an apartment or at college.

He is good to have blessed me with a job filled with passionate Christ-followers who are full of compassion, grace, and intercessory prayer.

He is good to have sent me a PA with a wrong diagnosis in July so I could serve Him in Zambia without worrying about my health.

He is good, all the time.

In case I never face another trail of this magnitude again, I want to embrace this opportunity and say that Jesus is good, and if you don’t know Him, you should. I’d love to tell you about Him. (Seriously, email me if you want—rrf507@gmail.com). If you’re going through a trial of any size, I’m here to tell you, He loves you and “will arm you well for this fight” (Psalm 18:39). Of course I’m still struggling with it all, but I know deep down He is sovereign (Phil. 4:9), present (Ps. 18:6), and full of grace (2 Cor. 4:16).

His Word says, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” (Luke 16:10). This truth is something God has spoken into me for about three years, and it’s something I’ve prayed for—that God would give me big things to be faithful in. As soon as I received my diagnosis, this verse popped into my mind, and I knew this was a “big” thing. It wasn’t until today that I realized something more important—that God has been faithful in all the little things in my life, so He will be faithful in this large thing too. As much as this verse is something we pray for ourselves, it’s something God already is and always has been. Hallelujah!

I’ve prayed immensely that none of this would come across as attention-seeking or full of pity. If you know me, you know I actually hate attention. But I do love prayer. I’m sure all this Jesus-talk is making Satan very angry, so please be in prayer for me, that my cancer would stay contained and be fully removed by surgery. Pray that my surgery will be as soon as possible (I’d love this Tuesday, August 12th!). Pray that my recovery would be smooth. Pray that my family, friends, and I would all be drenched in God’s supernatural peace. Pray that God’s pleasing and perfect will would match up with my desires and that others would come to know Him through this.

When you come to a bump in the road, you don’t stop your journey or change directions. You continue over it, knowing what’s on the other side. God’s on my every side, and He’s on yours too—whom shall we fear?

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3 thoughts on “A bump in the road

  1. My friend Kevin posted this to FB and I “happened” to click on it. I’m a 37 year old wife and mother of 2 little girls, and I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the beginning of July. I just recently found out that I will be having a double mastectomy and begin chemo in the next few weeks. While I have internally been walking closely with God and know He has got this, I’m not sure that I have used my cancer as the platform to spread His goodness the way I should have. You are right, this is a big thing, and it is a perfect opportunity to share the goodness of our Father and His unfailing love. May God bless you in your treatment, and may we both bring glory to His name!!

    1. Brooke,
      I am so moved by your words and am honored to see God’s movement in both our lives. I want you to know I am praying for you, your two little girls, and the rest of your family right now. Praying your treatment would be as smooth as possible and wipe away all remaining cancer, that you would be free from anxiety and full of His peace, and that God would give you direction and boldness in how to continue bringing glory to His name, as you already have. Thank you for your encouragement!

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