(Posted initially on Facebook in November of 2017. This is how most people in my world found out about my cancer diagnosis.)
I can hardly believe I am writing these words to you. I have discovered this week that I have cancer. What kind, what stage, how severe – answers to these questions will come to light in the coming days. For now, though, what I know is that I have a mass in my right lung about the size of an egg, several more much smaller masses in my lungs, and a mass on my thyroid. Preliminary conversations with my doctor lead me to believe that I’m in for some major surgeries soon with chemo and radiation to follow, but of course we’ll see as things unfold. I am, of course, stunned. Karla, the girls, and I are coping as best we can – taking in news as it comes, crying, hoping, walking, playing, trying to get good sleep…
A few things I want to say to you at this point…
I hope you understand how much I regret breaking this news to you in this way. (For crying out loud, I am sharing that I have cancer on Facebook.) For a while I sort of imagined that I’d take my time to make calls and let people know, one by one, but to be honest, that would about break me. What’s become clear to me is that I need to let it out with the basic information and then respond as I am able or when we see each other next. It breaks my heart to share this news in any form, but I know you understand when I say that it is taking absolutely all of my energy and bandwidth to be present to my situation, Karla, and the girls.
I have always known that while life is a wonderful gift, it is not fair. Its unfairness is the thing that causes some to shrink back, to love reservedly, to trust less… But that same unfairness pushes us to live well, too – to trust, risk, dream, act, sing out… So in light of this very particular unfairness, I have a profound sense of gratitude that I am in a place where I can say that I am living well. In a myriad of amazing ways, so many of you have been a part of that, and I cannot say how grateful I am.
Karla and I are feeling viciously protective of Sylvia, Meheret, and Ezzy right now. We have told them everything and we have also nurtured hope in our home. I trust that you will join us in that hope with them, and to that end, I want to be clear: the space around my family needs to be a "no-crappy-theology-zone." Things like "Everything happens for a reason," “All part of God’s plan,” and "God won't give us more than we can handle" may be helpful for some, but I would prefer not to inflict them on my girls. Thanks for your help with this.
Finally, I believe now that the Sacred Source of the Universe, God, who I have come to name and respond to in Jesus Christ – this Source is sad, mad, and broken with me, but also courageous, hopeful, healing, and still calling. So on I go. Stuck in a free-fall right now, but still dreaming, still striving to live in light of that Presence. Thank you for your prayers and for sharing this load with me and my family in your own ways. I am grateful for you and grateful to be journeying with you now.
Much, much love, with admiration and wonder,
I have stage IV lung cancer and I write about that here. If you're out there and you're fighting cancer, solidarity. If you read "lung cancer" and you wonder if I was a smoker, read this. Living with cancer is a daily, death-defying reality - one that pushes me to not simply defy death, but to affirm life, bless goodness, cheer for wonder, celebrate beauty... you get the idea. I hope I do that here.