August 9th is nearing. And that’s when I’m supposed to find out whether or not I have cancer.
Statistically, I probably don’t, since the kind of cancer that we’re talking about is rare. Of women that have uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) only about 1 in 1000 become cancerous (lieomyosarcoma). Even so, I am rather a rare individual, already living with a debilitating motor neuron disease that only affects about 1 in 6000. That and ultrasound imaging that shows rapid growth of the outer fibroids but not the inner one leave me with no feeling of assurance.
On my optimistic days (which far outnumber the pessimistic ones) I have confidence in the mercy of God and the reality of miracles. Whether it started as cancer or not, I believe that God can cure it. On those days when I feel like I probably do have cancer, it’s simply an acknowledgment that we all have to die of something… God works in mysterious ways and enables all suffering to work for the good in His Masterpiece, the big picture.
I am too small to see the big picture. Right now, God knows what is happening inside of my body and what is best for me and the people I love. I don’t.
Having said all of that, I can see something inside of me, a truth about my particular personality, that is making this waiting period a little more difficult.
I am wary of hope.
In writing my memoir this year, I see consequences of certain events and how patterns have developed in my life. When I was six years old, I believed that becoming Poster Child for the New Hampshire Chapter of MDA meant that I would be able to walk. I guess I thought that I would just be cured and get up out of my wheelchair, simple as that. My mother informs me that I even told her that I didn’t want to start school unless I could walk. The odd thing is that I don’t remember any of this. But, imagining how hearing these words from her bright and usually smiling little girl would have made a hurtful impact upon my mother, I do not doubt that she heard them.
Obviously, I didn’t get what I wanted.
While Poster Child at ages 6 and 8, and all through the years of the MDA Labor Day Telethon, I often heard the slogan “Hope for a Cure”. I’ve always been a curious child, my active mind thinking and rethinking, and it was clear to me that this hoped-for cure would not come in my lifetime. If it came at all. This was a kind of pessimism, I guess you could say, but only in the zeitgeist of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, with fundraisers gung ho on eradicating diseases and parents and patients understandably wishful.
In truth, however, my lack of hope was realism. After all, my hope to be cured before school started didn’t come to pass. Our prayers during a healing service of a famous priest were not answered with the reversal of my disease. When people told me that, if I had enough faith and was a good girl, then God would cure me, I did pray and I did try to be good. And I still couldn’t walk…. Why should I hope for a cure that wouldn’t come?
When I was a teenager, I sarcastically and delightedly noted that hope is a four-letter word.
Reading all of this may make you, dear reader, think that I grew to be a depressed and downtrodden or bitter and angry kind of person. But, I didn’t. I am simply realistic. And, most wonderfully, I am accepting. I came to the conclusion that I am supposed to be disabled and to do the best that I can. All of the prayers for a miracle that the myriad people offered up to God on my behalf were, I believe, answered with a resounding, if not mysterious, “Yes”. The miracle, as my mother often says, is that we accept. We accept the disappointments and hardships of our lives with the knowledge that the love that we have for one another with the love that we receive from God is the greatest treasure and power – and that life, no matter what, is a sacred gift.
I don’t know the future.
I believe that God can cure my leiomyosarcoma, if indeed that’s what I have, in a true miracle. And I also believe that, if I do have a cancer that is not cured, God’s miraculous grace will still be fulfilled. God willing, I will continue to receive divine love and grace to live my life, no matter how long it is, in goodness, beauty, and truth, knowing joy that lasts forever – even through pain.
Okay, I am a realist, though, remember? So, yes, it would suck if I have cancer. It would not be pretty. And I don’t want it.
Thinking about it makes me immediately sad, as my nephews come to mind and my sister… I don’t know why, but it would seem hardest to leave them. Perhaps, because I think that they are the least prepared? I almost include my brother-in-law in this, except… Well, he has come to believe in Christ and, so, has some greater knowledge of the mystery of divine will and the reality of ever after. Yes, my parents have this, too, but they also have over four decades of living with me, day in and day out, in a good life, a truly good life of loving each other and the three of us enjoying largely the little things. They will miss me, of course. Everyone who loves me will have some heartbreak – and I can say that without any pride, for it speaks to their love, not my lovability. But, I envision peaceful golden years for my parents after my death, whenever that is, and, so, I don’t feel sorry for them.
I do, however, feel a little sorry for me. I don’t want to leave, yet. There are many things that I can do, it’s true, perhaps a mission as yet incomplete. But, there are also so many things to wonder at, to contemplate, to enjoy….
Of course, I have to leave some time. We all do. Just, not yet… I hope.
But, as I said, I am wary of hope. Even the theological virtue of hope, which is, not only the desire for heavenly union with God, but also the trust in Christ’s promise that heaven is real… well, even that eludes me sometimes. But, that’s for another reflection.
Please do pray for me that God’s Holy, Perfect, Positive, Ordained Will be done.
© 2017 Christina Chase
Decay and Flowers, © 2017 Dan Chase
Girl in the Aqua, Caroline Hernandez
Although crippled by disease, I am fully alive in love. I write about the profound wonder and terrible beauty of life while living with physical disability and severe dependency. Unafraid to ask life's big questions, I was briefly an atheist and considered other religions before finding, in God's choice to intimately share our humanity, what it truly means to be fully human. A revert to the Catholic Faith, I blog weekly and have written a book called It's Good to Be Here.