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After months of mysterious symptoms which neither my primary care doctor or a specialist could diagnose, pain was added to the mix and my husband Doug took me to the emergency room Saturday, May 4. The first test they did (a CAT Scan) showed two large tumors on my liver and I was immediately admitted to the hospital. I was there for a grueling six days with each day giving us worse news. My first visit to the oncologists after my release to get the final report involved several waits during which I was sometimes in tears. There was never a place I less wanted to be. I have spent a lifetime of effort to keep the laws of health in order to avoid just such an eventuality. For just a few minutes I went into the “it’s not fair” mode, but gratefully didn’t stay there. The report was: cancer that started in the colon, metastasized outside the colon wall, then to the liver. All tumors too large to be operable. Six months or less, possibly extended a little by treatment.
Miracles that Followed
So many have told me they are praying for me and asking for miracles. I’m receiving miracles, in the best way possible: in my Spirit. I love the scripture, “care not for the body, neither the life of the body; but care for the asoul, and for the life of the soul.” (D&C 101:37). I know God is not “doing this to me” but that the whole process going on in my body is a result of natural law, the toxins I have been unremittingly exposed to, the damage done to my body by accidents, medications, and choosing to run faster than I had strength. But I know that God brings good from all things and I’m seeing that good in so many ways.
The Lord’s Tender Direction
I’ve been given some of the most direct and clear personal revelation of my life these past few days: that my job is not to “wage a valiant war against cancer.” I’m not to “fight” for the extension of my mortal life. I am not pleading for a longer life than He wants to give me. Instead I am praying for the strength to complete my life’s mission in the time He may allot.
I’m finding the “peace that surpasseth understanding” by surrendering my life to God’s will. Every day Doug and I recite the scripture “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he will direct thy paths (Psalms 3: 5-6).”
The Blessing of Advance Notice
I’ve been given the gift of advance notice, of time to tie up loose ends, to prepare and help others prepare in mind and heart. What a precious amazing gift. I live so much more of my time in gratitude than ever before in my life. And I sense that all the words of testimony I’ve written over the years and sometimes berated myself for not living up to perfectly are who I am. They are the very fiber of my soul and being. They are the truth. While I know I will not leave this world with all my weaknesses conquered or turned to strength, I know that weakness is not sin. The Lord has told us, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble” (Ether 12:27). Humility is so essential as I continue on this quest. I have to remember that my weakness is the most important thing I have if it leads me to depend on His strength.
I’m remembering all over again that I cannot forgive or perfect or sanctify or save myself. And that we are all equal in our need to say, “Jesus Christ, Thou Son God, have mercy on me” (Alma 36:18). Only one transgression disqualified Adam and Eve to live in the presence of God and there are no such things as little sins and big sins. We are all equally dependent on the grace of Christ for our redemption from sin and for the blessing of loosing the bands of death and taking part in a glorious resurrection. No one is less than or better than because we are all sinners who need the Lord completely. The glorious message is that He gives that redemption so freely when we turn to Him with no posturing or pretending that we can do any part of it ourselves. When I realize how completely I need Him every hour and quit feeling like I am somehow supposed to perfect myself by my own will power or strength, I find peace.
Surrounded by Love
I’m basking in the spirit of love. I’m surrounded by love. My heart is full of gratitude for every drop of love that descends on my soul like healing rain. Worry and fear have no place in this and when they appear, I quickly turn them over to the Lord and ask Him to replace them with faith.
And what do I hope for? A few times I’ve hoped for healing, for my will to be done to be able to stay with my husband and family longer. But when is long enough? At what point could I be ready to say, okay that’s enough time. I’m ready to surrender now? At what point could they say, “Okay, now I’ve had enough time with you and I’m ready to let you go?” No. It has to be up to God and He will lead me every step of the way. In Moroni we are told: “And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold, I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41).
Hope for positive outcomes, outcomes we “want” is not what the Lord needs us to have, it is hope in Christ and a glorious resurrection and I truly have that hope.
“All Things Work Together for Good”
I’m already seeing the good. Inexplicitly, I’m experiencing some of the happiest and most peaceful moments of my life, such as when the Spirit simply bathes my husband and I in the ability to communicate heart to heart on a level we’ve rarely achieved before. Like when heartfelt prayers pour out of me in a way I’ve longed for and been missing lately. Like when my heart is knit together with love for those who come to support me in this journey, like when healing happens in relationships that I’ve prayed for years, sometimes decades. Like when loved ones help me lighten Doug’s load of my surplus possessions and every bag or box that leaves the house is a physical relief (and happening so much more quickly than would ever have happened otherwise). Like when I realize that the critic on my shoulder that has plagued me with self-doubt most of my life has been silenced and replaced with images of me as a little lamb being tenderly cradled in the Savior’s arm and loved completely.
I know the days ahead may challenge me in ways I can’t imagine. But I will be praying to maintain the perspective I’ve gained in these past days. In the meantime, my body is weak, but all is well with my soul.