I wasn't sure if I'd remember how to access my blog it had been so long since I had shared anything. So why bother with unearthing it today? Because yesterday I experienced a years-in-the-waiting victory that seemed too important to go unannounced. Maybe you'll find encouragement in it if you, too, suffer from anxiety.
Yesterday I decided to take the girls (ages 16 and 14) shopping for shorts and swimwear. We live in Michigan now and have been living like hermits since the beginning of the quarantine, with retail stores just beginning to open. The plan was to make a day of it: shopping, lunch, and haircuts if time permitted. It was the first time we had a girls' day out in I don't know how long. Seriously, I can't remember the last time...they could have been preschoolers. That's pathetic, I know.
We hit the mall during its revised hours. Without getting into the weeds too much, I'll tell you the youngest immediately found a bathing suit at one of her favorite stores and got a cute haircut thanks to a cancellation at J.C. Penney's salon. The oldest, who hates shopping (one of the reasons we don't do girls' days out) found lots of needed summer clothes. Wins happened all around. We appreciated these minor successes despite the fact the mall was hot especially while wearing masks, the dressing rooms were closed, and the checkout line resembled the wait for Splash Mountain at Disney World.
When we got back to the car it was time for lunch, so I asked one of the girls to research local restaurants with her phone to see what was open for dine-in. As I sat in the driver's seat awaiting the verdict, I was overcome with the realization that I had just had a good time. That I wasn't feeling rushed to return home, anxious at the thought of going out to eat. I was enjoying myself. This may sound like a silly victory to some, but it has been a rare occurrence since my breast cancer diagnosis that I've actually left the house to do something deemed enjoyable and not felt some level of stress. In hindsight, I probably had some degree of social anxiety (if that's what it is) prior to my diagnosis three-and-a-half years ago.
As we ate our lunch, I almost expected dread to seep in because that would be the norm. But it didn't. The food and conversation caused me to lose track of time and were well worth the eye-popping bill I received at the end. Afterwards, again, there was no rush to get home. I didn't have to remind myself that I had medication for this sort of thing if needed. No. We were gals on a mission. Now we had to get shoes. So we did.
I don't know if I've turned a new leaf. If this will mean I'll no longer feel anxious when I'm out for extended periods. But it doesn't matter. I know I CAN enjoy myself and hopefully my girls can enjoy company with an anxiety-free mom from time-to-time. If this IS the new me, I best record a few more audiobooks because there could be more shopping adventures in the days ahead.
The intermittent sensations – not strong enough to call pains – in my bones have increased in number over recent months. I feel them in my ribs, my left arm, my pubic bone, my cheek bones, and one spot on my spine. I'll discuss it with my oncologist during my routine visit next week. But the dull aches in my breasts – even the fake one – started just a couple of weeks ago. My quick prayer out the door as I headed to my mammogram appointment was that anything abnormal would be detected. Short. Concise. Probably nothing like the story I’m about to share.
I wasn’t worried. I’m not really a worrier by nature, despite the fact that I have occasional anxiety…mostly when I first wake up or when doing something labeled fun but isn’t part of my routine. I actually started crying in line to board a cruise ship six weeks ago because it was outside of the norm for me. Guess that means I should either stop going on expeditions entirely or begin doing them a lot more often. If time and money were in abundance, I’d definitely force myself to choose the latter.
I arrived at the hospital for my appointment in plenty of time, filled out my paperwork, and waited for the mammogram tech to call me back. Not long after I sat down an older woman entered the room and glanced at the table of clipboards. Looking down at the different forms she asked aloud what she was to complete. I was the only other person in the room so I got up and handed her what she needed. As I returned to my seat I asked her if all was well, or something to that effect. She smiled sweetly and simply responded, “Well….” and kind of laughed. Something about her seemed familiar. I told her, “I’m sorry. I guess not. But you’re still smiling,”I acknowledged.
Once she sat down I could see her face. I didn’t recognize her features, but strange to say I knew her spirit. “This question may sound out of left field,” I began, “but were, or are, you and your husband missionaries?”
Her face brightened, “Yes!” she exclaimed.
As I peered into her eyes I told her how we had met in that same waiting room a year or two earlier. “You were on furlough and your husband was having tests for prostate cancer,” I recounted.
She remembered part of my story as well and soon we were both called back to change into our gowns. Once seated again I got reacquainted with Sandi who shared with me her journey from the previous year. The day we first met she went on to be diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer. She believed that the timing of her coming home from South Africa where she served on the mission field was God’s divine providence. Her entire story, which I wish I could share here (maybe in a future book?) had God’s fingerprints all over it. She smiled as she said, “I tell people this cancer has been a gift. A true gift.”
We continued chatting without a break between our words when one of the techs approached us and told Sandi, “I’m sorry for the delay, but you were scheduled to have your mammogram test at the other location and are supposed to be there.” “No she’s not!” I interjected and laughed. Sandi and I knew she was right where she was meant to be, so we could run into each other again. Thankfully, they were able to work her in so she didn’t have to leave or wait much longer.
“I’ve often wondered about you,” Sandi shared. “And this morning I nearly prayed that God would let me see you again.” I told her she apparently didn’t need to pray about it because the Lord knew her heart and answered it anyway.
What are the chances? That we’d both be back to the same office, on the same day, at the same time, more than a year later? Especially when she was actually scheduled to go elsewhere?
She gave me her contact information so we could remain in touch. Our oncologist (we discovered we have the same one) had told Sandi about my book, so I promised I’d mail her a copy.
I can’t say I know why God had us meet more than a year ago or again today. Maybe I’ll know in the future. Maybe I won’t. But each encounter convinced me they weren’t chance meetings…no…they were heavenly orchestrated.
Before I left with an "all clear" from the tech Sandi stood and hugged me as she whispered, “I know I love you.”
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity." ~ Proverbs 17:17
Have you ever heard that what you do on New Year’s (Day or Eve, I’m not sure which) you’ll do the rest of the year? If there’s any truth to that, I’ll be stranded half-dressed out in the cold throughout 2018.
On New Year’s Day I headed to Mass full of hope and good intentions while the children slept. About five miles from home, my vehicle’s engine overheated. This had happened once before back in October while getting the kids from school. And like before, I eventually managed to coast my vehicle to the parking lot that adjoins my neighborhood. Again, I began to walk home. But unlike the brisk fall day’s chill that chided me for not having a jacket, the morning of January 1st was a frigid 17 degrees when I set out for the 2-mile walk. Thankfully, I learned my lesson the first time and had a coat, but I was wearing a dress - with no nylons, no hat, no scarf, no gloves – I may as well been in Nome, Alaska.
I called the house to have my husband pick me up, but he took his sweet time. My brain was too frozen to let anger build beyond the surface, which at this point was like a skating pond, when I discovered he made himself a cup of coffee before leaving to get me. He redeemed himself by building me a nice fire to sit beside once we returned home so my thighs could thaw.
My word for the year is HOPE.
“…hope that is seen is no hope at all.
I was thankful to have received this word just the day before as I prayed prior to the priest’s homily, a.k.a. message. I asked the Lord what my word should be for the year and it flashed in my mind quickly, in big block letters. So HOPE it is.
Somehow, that simple word gave me comfort as I first sat stranded along the side of the country road, with the ignition off, hoping that the engine would cool faster than my body so I could soon venture closer to home. My heart and mind filled with hope, knowing that all would be o.k.
I needed this word at the forefront of my mind when less than a week before I called the doctor’s office to request my biopsy results. To give you a little background, a transvaginal ultrasound revealed some “questionable” results, so my doc recommended a hysterectomy. I didn’t like the recommendation, so we agreed to an endometrial biopsy to hopefully rule out uterine cancer. He said the results would be in “next week” – that was Dec. 21st.
I had peace from the beginning and wasn’t anxious about the wait. I could wait one week for the findings. But when I called the office six days later (close enough to a week) and the woman on the other end of the line informed me that results for that particular biopsy take 3 weeks to receive, and possibly longer due to the holidays, my heart sank. I became despondent as I got off the phone. Three weeks? REALLY? I could wait one, but not three... But why not?
After allowing myself to wallow in my frustration for about thirty minutes, it’s as if the Lord asked me, “Do you really believe in my goodness?” Ugh...I conceded...yes, I do. I knew I needed to place my trust in the Lord with the timing, with the outcome, with my heart in the waiting. I needed HOPE…hope in what I didn’t already have (results) and to wait for it patiently. None of us like to wait, do we? After my resolve to trust and not despair, I immediately felt better and haven’t been concerned with it since.
My wish for 2018 is that my hope (and joy) will continue to grow and flourish as I learn to trust in the Lord with each new day, whatever it brings. Privately, I may also pine after a new car in hopes that I’m never again stranded outside when it’s below twenty degrees.
Happy New Year!
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.