Years ago, when I was a sophomore in highschool, my youth group was planning a missions trip to Europe. The night before I was to board the plane, my family decided to watch a movie together. Someone thought it would be awesome to watch “Alive”, a movie about how a plane crash survivor took extreme measures to stay alive. Needles to say, I was more than a little worried getting on that plane the next day. As it was my first time flying, I think the more appropriate word would be “terrified”!
In case you are wondering if it’s normal for me to worry, the answer would be a resounding YES! For example, when the tornado sirens go off, even if the sun is shining, I’m going to head to the basement. Not only will I go to the basement, but I will take the weather radio and my phone, so I can be sure I know EXACTLY where that tornado is, and what street it’s heading towards. I will want to know how long the warning is to last, and what damage the tornado made before getting to my house!
So when we found out my husband had colon cancer, of course, being the worrier I am, I began to do in-depth research. I read every website there is to read, every brochure from every doctor’s office we went to. I went to the library and checked out books on cancer, cancer diets, and juicing for cancer. Not only did I want to know exactly what we were up against, I wanted to know exactly what would be expected of me as my husband’s caregiver. I found a private support group for colon cancer patients and their caregivers on Facebook. I organized the growing stack of office visit summaries and test results into a large binder, along with lists of my husbands medications and doctors.
Along with all that organization and research, I began to notice a headache that wouldn’t go away. I often felt nauseous, and when anyone would touch me on my shoulders, my muscles were so tight that I would cry out in pain. I also began to notice being short tempered with my kids.
“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom
This quote is actually pinned up on my board above my kitchen sink. You would think I would have learned this lesson by now, being as it has been hanging there for a few years. However, I’m finding that some of life’s lessons can only be learned by going through valleys.
Worrying about my husband’s colon cancer has not changed the course of treatment he is recieving. It has not made me feel better about the fact he has cancer. It has not drawn us closer together, or endeared my children to me more. It has not helped me clean my house faster, keep up with the laundry, treck all over town for the numerous doctor’s appointments, or minister in my church any better.
Worry hasn’t given me one thing (well, besides a headache).
Worrying has, however, taken away the gift of peace God had given me. It stole away some of the hope I had for this turning out all good in the end. It took away some of the joy I once felt over the many gifts God has given us. It zapped me of energy I needed to clean and cook and run errands for my family.
“Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” – Matthew 6:27
Gabe’s second infusion didn’t go so great. His muscles in his legs began cramping before the treatment was even completed. It was painful for him to walk, and he could only manage to limp around for several days. The muscles in his hands cramped so much he could barely hold on to the rails when going up and down stairs.
As I was trying to process all these changes that happened so quickly in my husband’s body, I felt my stomach begin to clench with worry.
Would he be able to finish treatments? What would his prognosis be if he couldn’t manage treatments?
After a few days of watching my husband limp around the house, flexing his fingers to stretch out muscle cramps, and rub his jaw because of the pain of chewing his food, I had became a huge knot of stress.
A friend who has been through this with her husband texted me to see how I was doing.
I asked her: “How did you manage the stress when your husband was so sick?”
Her reply: “I didn’t think about it. I just did what needed doing. Don’t think about the stuff you can’t change. Refuse.”
As I am writing this blog post today, I’m feeling like a hypocrite. I have experience with living with worry, but not with conqouring it. However, I’m going to refuse to think about what I can’t change. To refuse to carry burdens that the Lord has offered to take. To remember how good God is to me, and that He can be glorified by this walk in the valley.
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
PS: Gabe is feeling much better. Most of the side effects wore off after a week.