Wasn't that the slogan of Nike or Reebok or some sort of logo at one time? No Fear. I don't think there is anything much harder in a person's life than trying to live with "no fear". I can't seem to make it one day... maybe not even a couple of hours... without fear of SOMETHING creeping in. And I'm assuming it's a struggle for most people because how many times does Jesus say in the Bible "Have no fear..." "Fear not"... "Be not afraid"... and so on. It's apparently something we're not meant to do. But we do it. We almost can't help ourselves. NO FEAR is a wonderful concept (and even a command), but I've not been able to master it. Especially not today.
As I waited in the pediatric oncology waiting room this morning for Ethan's appointment, I saw another family that was also waiting there. I didn't see a child with them, so I assumed she was already in the back being seen by a doctor. Ethan began to stir, so I took him out of his car seat and began to feed him. As he was casually taking his bottle, my eyes kept wandering over to the two ladies who were waiting. They were expression-less. They looked off into the distance with such an empty look on their faces. They'd occasionally say something to each other, but the lack of expression never changed. It was as if the wind had been knocked out of them and they were trying to mentally and physically re-group, but couldn't. I knew that feeling. I sat there and watched them, and I understood exactly what they were feeling and thinking without even asking or listening to them. I knew.
Within a few minutes, a young girl walked out of the office with her parents. They all walked over to the two ladies I had been watching. The parents of the girl looked exactly as the two ladies did. The four of them sat there, while the girl (I'm assuming about 10 years old) played. No one said anything to each other. They didn't have to. Their bodies and faces said everything. My daughter/niece has cancer...why us... why her. That's what they were saying without saying it. I'm sure that's what they were trying to comprehend, and yet feeling overwhelmed because they couldn't comprehend it. I understood. I completely understood. I felt an anger I hadn't yet felt throughout this process. Picture a pot of water on a hot stove. You know the bubbles that start to build up just below the surface of the water, right before it starts to boil? That's how I felt. And I couldn't stop it. No matter how much I wanted to turn off "the stove", the water in my being continued to simmer vigorously.... As a tear started to swell up in my eyes, I realized that I had let the bottle slip out of Ethan's mouth. As I repositioned him, the nurse called Ethan's name. As I picked up Ethan and my bag, the nurse grabbed his car seat. She was extremely pleasant, which was very nice, because I was looking for any reason to stay in my bad mood... and an unfriendly nurse would have helped me justify being rude. Of course, I wasn't rude. I smiled right back to her and carried on a conversation as if nothing was wrong while she took Ethan's blood from the tubes in his chest. But when she left... I realized the slow simmering thoughts were still there.
My son has cancer.
I just kept saying it over and over in my mind.... with different emphasis on each word every time I repeated.
MY son has cancer.
My SON has cancer.
My son HAS cancer.
My son has CANCER!
And not just any cancer. One of the worst kinds. The kind that even the best of specialists all over the country haven't seen very much of. The kind that has so much conflicting information out there that there really is no definitive solution/cure/treatment because not enough research has been done due to its being so rare! Before I could let out a scream, Ethan started crying. He needed to burp. As I was burping him, the nurse came back. We were free to go, and she'd call me later today with the results of his blood counts. She was beyond friendly. Probably the nicest nurse (person!) I'd ever met. Ethan kept smiling at her. She kept commenting on how handsome he was and how precious his smile was. I had to agree with her. She commented on his big blue eyes... I said, he gets them from his dad. She asked to hold him, and then commented on how cuddly he was. I had to agree again. He is a very lovable baby. She calmed me down... I'm a master at facades, so I assure you she didn't know I needed it. But I did. I needed to be rescued from the simmering water in which I was slowly starting to drown.
As we left the hospital, I started thinking about fear. Fear is a mental death trap. My thoughts strayed from the fear of the possibility that Ethan's treatment might not be successful to the fear of the possibility that what if he did go into remission one day, only to have the cancer return when he was 3, 10, 16, 21, or even 35 years old. I don't want him taken away from us now, let alone in a few years.
It all started last night... I knew I shouldn't have started to "learn" more about JMML. I have purposefully not read the information that the hospital gave us about childhood leukemia. And I had purposefully not "googled" JMML specifically. Until last night... and let me tell you that nothing I read was helpful, insightful, or encouraging. Nope. Everything I read kept sinking me lower and lower into a pit of despair. Now remember, I said that everything out there about JMML contradicts something else that's out there about JMML. And, of course, I happened to stumble upon all of the depressing facts of just how untreatable and severe a JMML diagnosis really is. Thus the reasoning behind my sorrow today.
Fear. It is crippling. And even now, as I try to overcome my fears with faith and trust that the Lord's going to answer my (our!) prayers.... I'm stuck. I know there are many people out there who pray for a miracle or healing in their loved ones. And I'm quite sure that they pray, believing in complete faith that it will happen... but sometimes, it doesn't. How do you reconcile the fear of not getting the answer you hope for, with trying to have the faith that you will? It's a puzzling back and forth of the mind.
All I can come to grips with is the answer that my very wise husband gave me last night. We can have faith that God is going to take care of us regardless of what takes place in our lives... and we can pray.
Several times in the Bible, it appears that God had his mind set on something, and then changed it because of prayer (2 Kings 20:1-5, Genesis 18:26-33). I don't know the will of God in Ethan's life. I don't know the will of God in mine and Adam's lives. But I do know that I can pray. I can cry out to the Lord that mine and your prayers for a miracle healing be answered. Not just until Ethan is 8, 18, 38 or 58... but healed wholly and completely of this disease. That he may have a long and blessed life here on earth.
It's hard... but I can't give up that hope. Please don't give up either. Keep praying. I've never felt so connected to a body of believers as I have over the last several weeks. Together we are a united front before the throne of God... collectively kneeling and asking for the same thing.
Heal my baby boy.... Heal my baby boy.