Thursday, May 23, 2013
A New Identity
There are moments in life when you know that from this point forward, life will never be the same. Some of my biggest moments included these phrases:
"Will you marry me? "
"We're sorry Mrs Jackson, it is stage 4 Thymoma."
In each of these moments, my life changed and I took on a new identity. My name changed from Miss Masten to Mrs. Jackson. I became Mommy instead of Anna. I went from healthy to cancer patient. In each instance, life would never the same.
Last week I had a second surgery to remove more tumors from my chest. The surgery went far better than expected. The tumors had responded well to Power Aide (chemo). The area on my diaghram that had been described as having tumors that made it feel like cobblestones, now had only a thin film across it. Two other tumors we had been watching had been reduced dramatically. The doctor discovered very little scarring from my previous surgery. This greatly reduced complications. The team was able to do surgery without injury to my lungs or the nerve on my diaghram. I had no nausea that had been so challenging in the first surgery. Where we anticipated spending eight days in the hospital, I was released in four. God overwhelmingly showed His goodness. But questions remained. Did we get it all? Would I need more Power Aide? Would we have to spend 4-6 weeks in Houston this summer for radiation treatment? I celebrated the victories of the week, but left Houston as a cancer patient awaiting pathology reports that would direct our next steps.
Today I received a call. Another life changing moment. I was told that the tumors were resected, meaning that they were able to remove all visibly observable cancer. At this time there is no need for further chemo or radiation. I will be monitored for the rest of my life as this type of cancer likes to return, but I am classified as NED- No Evidence of Disease. I have a new name. A new identity. NED. Life will never be the same.
Some of you have heard me tell of my experience as a piano player. I took piano lessons for many years. Every week I went for my lesson. You would think that with years worth of classes, I would be a fairly good pianist. The problem is that I didn't practice much. In fact, I would pay my sisters to practice for me. We would practice as my mother cooked dinner in the kitchen around the corner. She listened to see if we were playing, but couldn't see who was actually striking the keys. My sister got richer and I didn't get much better. I "know" how to play the piano. I can read music. I know where the keys are, but I don't REALLY know how to play the piano because I didn't practice what I learned. Head knowledge and application of skill are two different things!
As I have been reflecting on the last six months I have realized that my spiritual life is sometimes like my piano career. I have "known" God my whole life, but this experience has led me to REALLY know God in ways I never fully imagined. I thought I knew what "peace that passes understanding" meant. I realize now that I had no clue. It was not until my chest was cracked, my hair was gone, and I could still find comfort in God that I fully understood that phrase. I thought I trusted God. I have learned now that it was easy to say I trusted Him when life was going my way. I have learned a whole new level of trust since I realized my life depends on it. I now know better what it means to give God control. Before, I liked to believe I had control of my life. Now I know I control nothing except how I respond to life and even that requires a dependance on God. I have had to put into practice what I have "known" all along. As a result, my faith has grown. I have grown. I would never have chosen this path, but God has revealed such amazing things along the way that I can honestly say I don't regret it. I don't want to do it again, but I don't regret it.
Upon receiving my new identity, I sat on my porch and wept as I repeated, "Thank you, Lord, Thank you." I couldn't wait to share the news! You have prayed with us, cried with us, ministered to us, loved us. We are so grateful for your role in this miracle. You have faithfully walked around the walls of Jericho and today we saw the walls fall! Now comes the most important part, making sure that He receives all the glory that is due Him! God is good. He has answered our prayers. Any good that has come from this, comes from Him. Do you remember me telling you about my survivor bracelet? On the outside it says "Survivor Mark 5:36". That scripture says "Don't be afraid. Just believe." It was an outward reminder that God could do this. What I didn't tell you was that on the inside I had a secret message, just for me. I had them inscribe Psalm 117:18. That scripture says, "I will not die, but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done."
God has fulfilled His promises to me. Today I begin to fulfill mine to Him. I will live and I will proclaim what He has done. God has heard our prayers. He has healed me. He has met every need my family has had. He is real. He is powerful. He is faithful. His love is beyond measure. His eyes are on His children. He is able to mend brokenness. He still does miracles!! I know, I am one!!