When earlier this summer the surgeon delivered the diagnosis, the Preacher and I sat in the third emergency room on the left, wondering who we were now. The C word? Us?
“What I did on my summer vacation,” isn’t supposed to include things like “got cancer, had a chunk of my colon removed.” But that’s how the Preacher would answer, were he asked.
His cancer prevented our almost-annual road trip West to visit family. But what it took away with one hand, it gifted with the other. Family descended from both East and West. Some stayed to help and encourage, bless them.
The golden summer, saturated with company and cancer, learning and leaning, has mellowed to a quieter autumn. Except when the Beans visit, the place feels almost empty now. At first the Preacher and I rattled around like two hedgehogs, learning how to relate, all by ourselves, to the elephant in the room.
One decision came easily: For nearly a dozen years, I’ve taken my readers along on all our journeys. Reporting on the life and faith of our ordinary family has become a habit — why stop now? Cancer happens. Why not to us, too?
We’re immensely grateful for a fast process — two months of more than usual malaise, five weeks from the Preacher’s first appointment to the surgical table, with a battery of tests between. But his post-surgery report surprised us all. “Cancer cells have spread into the lymph nodes,” the surgeon said, slow and sorry. “I didn’t think so.”
Neither did we.
Concerned about the Preacher’s West Nile residue, his oncologist ruled out intravenous chemo — worried that the cure may batter more brutally than the cancer. Oral chemo began yesterday. The doctor (and chemo alumni) warn that it may not be an easy journey. But we have great hope and strong faith. Some people breeze through chemo — is that too much to pray for?
Cancer is a beast. We pray for healing. But we also ask God, who sees further than we, to do as he sees fit. No matter what the months ahead hold or how they end, in his timing we know all will be well. We seek the sunny side, confident of the hope side and listing strongly to the faith side. When tossed by the tumult of normal human emotion, Christ and the good companions he sends steady us.
Thank you for your prayers. Occasionally I post updates at www.caringbridge.org/visit/rickgibson . (Visitors must log in with an email address.)