Lessons Learned In The Midst of My Melanoma Journey
BY Terri Emge
PUBLISHED March 21, 2016
Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
Several months ago, I realized this cancer experience hasn't really been about me and my cancer. It's been about my relationship with God.
When our lives are broken or out of control, we do what we can to gain some of that control back. I spent the first several months obsessing about what to eat or not eat. I tried vegan, paleo and gluten-free and even though I could understand the possible benefits, I struggled. I thought, It's only food! You should be able to do this!
After months of research and attempts to make it work, I became overwhelmed and gave up. I justified my inability to "do the right thing" saying quality of life was more important than cancer-killing diets. Did I feel guilty for not "doing it right?" Absolutely, because why wouldn't I do everything within my power to fight? After all, I needed to stay alive for years to come. This was something I should be able to control, but my inability to do so made me feel like I wasn't fighting hard enough to win the battle.
During my infusions, I began visualizing my immune student body sitting attentively as the immunotherapy teacher attempted to explain the deception of cancer cells. They looked like they were paying attention, but they just weren't getting it and the cancer kept growing, as did my despair. I had bi-monthly CT scans and was always hoping for good news. Month after month it was the same depressing reports only they got worse as time went on. The cancer was still there, growing and multiplying.
I received a multitude of prayers and well wishes from friends and loved ones, even folks I didn't know -- it was mind boggling. I thought that people are so generous with their love, but why would God care enough about me to actually listen to their prayers? I vividly remembered hearing Dad testify to the power of prayer as he recovered from prostate cancer and my thoughts were, Of course God's going to listen to prayers for him. He's made a point to live a life worthy of God's love.
My life, while not criminal, hadn't always been one that would make God happy. I cried for days, month after month, feeling the deep ache within my heart because my life would be cut shorter than I had ever imagined. I would miss out on marriages, grandchildren and the yet to come cherished moments with my kids. In desperation, I prayed that God would let me have more time with my family.
Several months ago, I finally let go of trying to "fix" or "control" my cancer. It happened after I picked up the Bible, opened it to Psalms and started reading.
55: 1-2, "Listen to my prayer, O God, Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles."
13: 1-3, "O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?"
102: 1-2, "Lord, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea! Don't turn away from me in my time of distress. Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you."
I read passages in Psalms every night and something within me started to change. The words felt like they were coming from deep within my own soul. It felt like I was praying and God was actually listening. I began to realize I couldn't control my situation and needed to trust God to lead me through the darkness to health or trust that my family would be okay without me.
I had an opportunity to put that trust into full action when I was diagnosed with a growing brain tumor. Two weeks after diagnosis, by the time I had surgery to remove it, the tumor tissue was dead. I give kudos to science, but that's nothing short of a miracle in my book. Psalms 40: 1-3, "I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord."
I am thankful for God showing me it's not only okay, but probably best to trust in His love.