Cancer, a Birthday, and a Secret Prayer

I was dying.  And I knew it.  I was under no delusions that healing was on the table for me and I had accepted my lot in life.  Or death, I suppose, as it were.  Cancer was “exploding” all over my body, in the words of my oncologist, and I had a few good months left – at best.  My brain tumor was wreaking havoc in the way of grand mal seizures that left me for minutes on end without oxygen, leaving me to try to regain my body functions and memory after each one.  And after each one it got increasingly harder and had more long term effects that didn’t dissipate.  I had tumors in my lungs that were so inflamed that any exertion left me in a coughing fit and I found myself night after night sleeping upright on the couch because laying down in bed next to my husband, where I longed to be, would result in painful coughing fits.  My hip and back ached constantly, crying out in pain, and reminding me that the cancer was eating my bones.  Little by little.

Each day I had to relinquish more and more control of my life and the life of my family over to family and friends.  I thank God endlessly for the selfless love we received, but there is no 30 year old mother on earth who wants this for her family.  And so I struggled mentally with my lack of involvement with my kids at the level I had wanted for myself.

My body and my mind were both betraying me more and more each day.  And there was no hope in healing.  And so we faced each day as we had to.

I watched my kids, then 2 and 4, living a seemingly normal life.  At least, as normal as we could provide in the midst of all my treatments, scans, and appointments.  We tried to build a sense of normalcy around the fact that Mommy was dying and we treated it as a fact of life rather than a scary and sad event.  I bought them a book called “A Kid’s Travel Guide to Heaven” and we read it every day.  And while it’s certainly not scripture based, it did help open the discussion and help the kids to see that that was where Mommy would be.  Waiting for them to come.

I needed them to know that if they understood the gospel of Jesus Christ and that if they accepted the gift of salvation that we would be together again.  And I needed them to know that although Mommy was happy to go to heaven, that it would never be my choice to leave them.  Never.  I was desperate for them to understand this.  And the tears would fall.  Rolling down my cheeks in silent protest.  Just as they are right now as I write this.

A sibling squabble was a reminder that I wouldn’t be there to help them bond as they grew up.   Setting the kids in front of a Veggietales so I could get a break because I was in too much pain was a reminder that I wouldn’t be a spiritual influence for them for very much longer.  A sweet hug goodnight and even the frustration of trying to put young kids to bed were all too painful reminders of all I would be missing out on.  And selfishly, this tore me up inside.  Everything in me longed to be there for them as they grew up, and so the tears fell.

People often ask me how I did it.  How could I face this?  How could I cope?  There is truly no good answer to that.  I know we did what we had to do but looking back it seems so impossible.  It really was too much.  How did we do it?

There was a profound acceptance on my part that this was the end.  Mind you, acceptance certainly did not mean gladness.  I was tired and I was sad.  But I was ready.

I remember one sleepless night very clearly.  I had propped myself up on lots of pillows so that I could stay in bed with Eric, and as was so often the case when I could manage to stay in bed, I would listen to him rhythmically breathing as he slept and I would be soothed by the fact that he, at least for a few hours each day, had calmness and rest.  On this particular night, just like I had on so many others, I would pray.

But tonight would be a little bit different.

I lay there with my eyes closed tight, silent tears falling faster each second, cascading down my cheeks only to puddle up onto the sheets.  And in my desperation I reached my hand up to heaven.  And I begged God with all I had in me, to give me until I was 34.

34 years old.

Please God!  It would be about 3.5 years at that point and I felt like I was asking for the moon.  I felt like I was asking God to turn me into a unicorn or something equally as impossible.  I felt like I knew I was asking for too much, that it wasn’t possible, that it was absolutely ridiculous.  But that for some reason in my head that was the perfect amount of time.  That if He just allowed me that window of time that the kids would be old enough to have some good, solid memories of me.  At that time, this was the number one tug on my heart.  Selfishly, I wanted nothing more than for the kids to remember me.  That’s just the way it was.  Eric and I would have been married 10 years when I was 34, and that was just an astonishing feat to me.  It sounded so glorious.  Perfect.  The perfect amount of time!  I kept apologizing to God because I knew my request was so silly and so selfish.  But as I continued to pray, my desperation simply grew as I begged and begged God to please just give me until I was 34!

I write this today.  On my 34th birthday.  I can honestly say I never thought this day would come.  I know God isn’t a genie up in heaven granting wishes, but I believe He heard my heart on that night.  I’m not sure I’ll ever know for sure how all of this has worked or why it has worked out this way, surviving this long isn’t something I believe I deserve or have earned.  It just simply is.  And as I sit here now with clean scans as of last week, I’ll accept it as the beautiful gift it is.

I didn’t want to tell this story.  In fact, I could count on one hand the number of people I ever told this prayer to.  Why?  Because it felt like a childish prayer.  Like a lack of faith on my part, and maybe it was.

But I wanted to tell it now because God is good and deserves all praise.  Always.  He has given me more than I could ever ask or imagine.  Think about those words, more than I could ask or imagine.  All glory to God!  And I give Him glory for this urgency He has placed in my heart for spreading the gospel.  It can feel like a burden sometimes because it was so much easier to live a lukewarm life, but I pray He never lets this passion for praising Him and spreading the Good News fade.  Christ has reconciled this sinner with a Holy God through His righteousness alone.  I’ll always be grateful and I want to only praise him forever.  Thank you, Jesus!

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen.”  ~Ephesians 3:20-21

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33 thoughts on “Cancer, a Birthday, and a Secret Prayer

  1. I am so glad you shared this story Kim. We will never know why God answers some prayers and not others but His ways are always good and right. God has plans for you yet.

  2. Kim you are such a wonderful testament to the grace and power of Jesus Christ, I rejoice with you in answered prayer and hope for the future to the Glory of God.

  3. Praise God! For His faithfulness. It has been quite a journey for you and it is great seeing how God has worked. You have me in a puddle of tears reading this blog rejoicing . Keep the Faith! I can relate with the struggles with cancer and fear of the unknown. Megan was 18 months when I was diagnosed, and I prayed he would let me see her graduate and now she’s in college. God is good! Love you, Kim

  4. This is beautiful and an amazing reminder of just how great our God is. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing. God is doing big things with you! Praise God for your 34th birthday! Praise God for your fire to share his word! Praise God for the memories your children are making with you. Blessings Kim. I pray you get 34 more years to live passionalty for Christ!

  5. Kim, I’m sitting here in tears as I remember what it was like on the spouse’s end. Some days I miss him so much it hurts. But, our God is faithful and I’m so glad he has brought you this far (and us this far). I’m so thankful for the chance we had to become friends, and for the ministry he’s given you through all of this.

    1. Oh Heather I know you know all too well the pain and heartache of all of this, and my heart especially breaks because Michael was not healed on this side of heaven. But yes we can praise God for where we are now!! We miss you guys so much 💕

  6. A very happy birthday to you.
    I found your blog when you weren’t doing well, and it IS amazing how your life has changed. Many blessings to you. Hope you celebrate this gift today with all your favorite people.

  7. Happy Birthday! Praise the Lord you’re scans were clear! I’m studying Psalms this week and it clearly shows we are to share all of our feelings and emotions with God, and I can tell you do that well! We all need to come to God with our childlike prayers and requests as we are Gods children. Prayers for continued clear scans! God bless you and your family!

  8. Kim, reliving your story written with your amazing writing skill was heart touching and tear invoking.  Thank you for sharing!  Geof and I will really miss the walk this weekend.  We’ll be thinking of all of you!  This gives a whole new meaning to a 34th birthday!  Hope it was everything you could ask for!  Love you and your family.  Kathy

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S® 6 edge, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

  9. Kim, thankyou so much for sharing your heart. Beautifully written!. And I beg to differ with you. Those prayers were not selfish in my view. They were and are the prayers of a loving mother and wife who wants what the Lord has promised – to raise children in the fear and nurture of the Lord. You want to reach out to others and to bring light and healing into this dark hurting world. And, you are 34, and you are fulfilling all of these promises and more. How encouraging for all of us. God
    Bless you and your beautiful family. Happy Birthday – which means more to you that most people can imagine. He has given you the gift of extended life here and treasures in Heaven as you go.

    1. Aww Char thanks so much! You are always so incredibly encouraging and it really means a lot to me. Maybe you’re right! Obviously God knows our hearts so I hope he saw me as you described ☺️

  10. I can’t tell you how many times I prayed that God would use your story to bring glory to Himself. Hearing Eric tell of your rollercoaster of experiences, I admit to not expecting a lot in terms of recovery or longevity. But I still prayed. This post was an answer to so many prayers and more. May His mercy and grace abound in you.

    1. Thank you so much Aaron! Honestly I’m not sure I could ever express how much it means to us to have had your prayers along the way!! To God be the glory, I love that that was what you prayed for because that is our heart ☺️

  11. First or all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Secondly, I love to read your blogs. Your writings are beautifully done and can honestly put us in the frame of what was going on. I thank you for being honest. It gives me insights as to what my Mother must have been going through at age 38 when she had to leave her 3 small children. Sadly, she only survived 1.5 years from diagnosis to death and no thoughts and events were left for us to read. Tears had come to my eyes while reading your blog, trying to put myself in your and also my Mother’s place. Thank you again!

    1. Oh wow Linda! That really took my breath away. I am beyond honored to shed some light onto what your mother was surely thinking and feeling in that time. I’m so so sorry for your loss!

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