Sunday, February 14, 2016

When Cancer Comes Back

There are few things in this life as triumphant as finally beating a serious illness, and few things as heartbreaking as having it return. Few things show us our powerlessness with more suffering, few things replace hope with hopelessness more savagely than knowing exactly what is in store for you and those who love you because you've already been there and you've already done that. That sharp disappointment is made sharper still when that illness is as life-altering and as life-threatening as cancer. Cancer steals lives, life, and livelihoods. Going through it once is more than any one person, any couple, and any family should be asked to bear, but as many of you know all too well, for whatever reason sometimes once isn't enough.

We, the sick people of Christendom, are ambassadors in chains and Satan does his best to keep those chains on us as tightly as he possibly can, but we are not without armor even in the throes of this earthly devastation (see Ephesians 6 below). After all, who can proclaim the truth of everlasting life more boldly than us, the outwardly dying and the inwardly surviving (2 Corinthians 4:7-18)? Here is a moving poem submitted to MWCI from a n anonymous husband and father who has been diagnosed with cancer twice, called "When Your Wife is Married to Cancer." **If you have a story, poem, or work of art you would like to share anonymously or otherwise at MWCI about your recurring, chronic, or beaten illness, please email it to Enjoy.

When Your Wife is Married to Cancer
by Anonymous

When my doctor told me my cancer came back,
I thought my worst fears had come true, 
but I hadn't seen real fear at all
until I met my wife's eyes, sad and blue.

We had lived in fear of this moment for five years
never daring to speak the name of that curse.
Now suddenly that name is spoken again,
nothing on this blighted earth could sound worse

than my life and my family's summed up
in that six-letter dirty word:
a prognosis, a sentence, our repeated reality,
an order to stop moving forward.

"Will he die this time?"
Their blue sadness begged me.
“Will the cancer be the cause?
Or the drugs? We'll just have to wait and see.”

“What will our life be like now?
Will we lose the house?
Will we lose our marriage, our faith,
now that I am cancer's spouse?”

“And where was God when I begged Him
not to let this happen again?
We've suffered our share and then some by now,
Can't He just leave us alone until heaven?”

The last five years haven't been easy.
You'd think they would be, but it's a lie.
We spent each day in fear of this moment,
wondering when I might die.

We both changed so much
when I was sick before:
our lives, our bodies, our tempers, ourselves,
lost jobs, lost joy and more.

I couldn't fix any of it, though,
no way to make God give answers.
And that's what hurts the most
when your wife is married to cancer.

I am no longer a husband,
now I am a patient and that is all,
patiently waiting to see
if the doctor or God will call.

That is all that I can be,
now that cancer has come back.
As I read my greatest fears reflected,
I almost wish it had been one quick heart attack.

But I turn away from our unspoken fear
and shake my doctor's hand.
I smile the best that I can
and ask him to tell us his plan.

After all, we beat cancer once before
with God's help, big and small.
So why not beat it back again,
and maybe banish it once and for all?

"STAND therefore, having fastened on the belt of TRUTH,
and having put on the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS,
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by
the gospel of PEACE. 
In all circumstances take up the shield of FAITH,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
and take the helmet of SALVATION,
and the sword of the SPIRIT, which is the WORD of GOD,
PRAYING at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer & supplication.
To that end KEEP ALERT with all perseverance, 
making supplication for all the saints, and also for me,
that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to
that I may declare it BOLDLY, as I ought to speak."