Mother's Day-May 11, 2008
I'd had chemo less than 48 hours before. I knew that by late afternoon or into the early evening, I'd be pretty much confined to bed and writhing with phantom nerve pain. Nevertheless, I was on a mission and I was determined to accomplish it before going into the long, painful battle which awaited me. I needed to do this in order to help carry me through the heat of the battle I was facing.
I forced myself out of bed and slipped into my "survivor uniform" which consisted of, amongst other things, a pink survivor T-shirt and a pink survivor baseball cap. My husband had to work early that morning but my mom and brother would be by soon to pick me up. I gulped down some breakfast even though due to the chemo I really didn't feel hungry. It didn't really matter what I ate as my tastebuds were out of whack anyways unless it was chocolate of course!
I filled up my pink water bottle and hit the road. I was on a mission and I was determined I was going to reach my destination no matter how tired or ill I felt. I breathed a prayer to God. I knew he understood how important this was to me and he would help me do what I needed to do.
It was a great morning at Race For The Cure. I carefully hobbled around on the short walk which was inside the Mall of America. It was cold and blustery out as May is pretty fickle in Minnesota. I was glad I had a good excuse to be inside. As I approached the rotunda, I stopped in amazement. Right before my eyes was a sea of pink. These were women just like me. They understood the pain, suffering, fear and humiliation. They had walked or were walking the same path I was. I was a part of them and they were a part of me.
In the middle of the rotunda, there was a roped off area of hundreds of seats. Not just anyone could be admitted. This was the survivors area. You had to show your survivor's "garment" (pink T-shirt) in order to get in. Those without a pink T-shirt could stand outside of the ropes but they weren't permitted to come in and sit with us. They could only watch us.
As I made my way to a seat, perfect strangers reached out to greet and hug me. Suddenly we were no longer strangers, we were sisters because we were survivors. I gazed at the sea of pink around me and forgot my fatigue. The pain and illness became secondary. Many of these women had endured what I was going through. We'd all been diagnosed with cancer. We'd all faced our own mortality but in this moment, we were all still here. Just being around them made me feel strong!
In our Christian life, it is important that we try to connect with survivors. Anybody can talk the talk but not everyone bears the marks of the cross. Not everyone bears battle scars. These are the people you want to find. These are the people who will listen to you. These are the people who will cry with you and hold you when you're afraid. These are the people who will pray for you. While their particular battles may not look exactly like yours, they know what it is like to feel like heaven is silent. They know what it is like to cry out in the dark. They know what it is like to cling to God's promises even though their world seems to be collapsing all around them and people scream in their faces "Where is your God now?"
I have three sentences written on a hot pink stickie note on my computer. I wrote them down one night when I was starting to feel like chemo was bigger than God, it was darker than I had ever imagined possible and fear threatened to destroy my joy and rob me of my strength.
God is bigger!
He makes my darkness light!
The joy of the Lord is my strength!
I cried out to the Lord and He heard my cry. I suddenly realized brothers and sisters around the world heard my cry as well and began to lift me up in prayer. Some knew me, most did not but God let me know in that moment that other "survivors" were gathering around me and lifting up my arms to God.
There may be those who will scoff at this but I want to let you know you are never alone. Not only is God with you but there is an entire army of brothers and sisters in Christ surrounding you as well. As followers of Christ we must remember we are not here to tear each other apart, rather we are here to love and support one another. Survivors need to stick together so that we may all be made strong through Christ Jesus.
This is the Survivor picture I just received in the mail. Yes, I did find myself in the picture. I had to use a magnifying glass though. I'm the one with the pink hat and no hair Oh, I guess that could fit the description of at least one or two of us in that picture. Oh well.
Have you ever seen such a beautiful group of women? That's the amazing thing about survivors. We're all extraordinarily beautiful (or handsome) :)
I admire your strength and valor, with courage and tenacity. I would endure an hour of your life. I just pray that God continues to give strenght and spiritual concrete-mindedness to stay the course and finish the race. May you be blessed. Amen.