Cancer…so many strong emotions can be felt when you hear this one little word.
Cancer is a complete thief that steals so much from those who taste the grief of it.
Before 2015, I had experienced several family members go through the agony of cancer — and majority eventually dying from it.
When someone you love is diagnosed with cancer…a myriad of thoughts and emotions flood and overwhelm you. It literally feels like someone sucks the living breath out of you.
In 2015, as I prepared to travel to Costa Rica, I went to my parents house to say goodbye before my flight was to leave. As I hugged my dad, I couldn’t wait to get in my car so I could privately cry. As I hugged him, it literally felt as though I was hugging a skeleton.
My dad had been severely ill for about 7 months and had lost almost 80 lbs. None of his doctors would take his symptoms seriously. As I left for my trip, I was genuinely concerned my dad would eventually starve to death since he couldn’t hold any food down at all. He now weighed less than he did in high school. I told him he needed to do whatever it took to get his doctors to listen…he needed to be pushy.
After I got settled in Costa Rica, I called to check in with my mom and asked how my dad was doing. His doctor finally agreed to put a body camera inside my dad that morning…by swallowing this special camera, he’d have hundreds of pictures taken from the inside…but the doctor assured my dad it would be extremely rare if he had cancer.
The following morning, I received a phone call…a FaceTime call, actually…from my mom’s cell phone. I figured she FaceTimed me so she could see the jungle we were staying in since I had texted her about some howler monkeys and coati that were right outside our door.
When I answered the call, all I could see was my sister. Now my sister isn’t a crying type — not.at.all. — but there she was on FaceTime with puffy eyes, tears running down her face, barely able to speak. I could see and hear my mom beside her and she could barely talk, too. By the look on their faces, I thought someone had died.
Instead, my sister was about to tell me the reason for my dad being so sick.
“Kim…dad has cancer…a very rare aggressive cancer…they’re doing emergency surgery on him in two days…”
My heart hit the floor. Fear engulfed me. I felt like I was going to throw up. Realizing how long he’d been sick without a diagnosis worried me immensely!
I had already lost my biological dad while I was growing up…I couldn’t imagine now losing my second dad. I especially couldn’t imagine watching my mom go through the intense heartache of losing another husband. She and my dad were best friends.
I immediately started the process of finding a flight home. I was on a plane by 4:00am to make it home for my dad’s surgery, and I was beyond grateful that a very special man in Costa Rica was so compassionate that he paid the $3700 airline fee to get my husband and me home in time. (My husband’s grandfather had died as well, so he was able to go to his Poppy’s funeral as I made my way to my dad’s surgery.)
Before I left to fly home, I FaceTimed my mom. She was crying and pacing back and forth so badly that all I could see was her ceiling. My heart hurt so bad that I couldn’t hug and hold her through the phone.
There are so many people who have gone through the same situation — the fear…the helpless feeling of not being able to help or do anything for a loved one…sitting at long chemo appointments watching a loved one go through every emotion known to mankind.
Not knowing if the previous holidays were the very “last” ones. Not knowing if you’ll ever get to go on a vacation with them or celebrate a birthday with them — theirs or yours — ever again. Having a sickening feeling of deep loss that doesn’t go away until you wait…and wait…and wait…for the next precious doctor visits or surgeries. Wondering if any of the chemo or surgeries would “take.”
To everyone who has experienced a loved one having cancer…or losing a most loved and treasured loved one to cancer…my heart hurts for you and I offer my deepest sympathies and condolences. Both situations leave upmost scars on a heart.
I pray for everyone who has been catapulted into walking that terrible road…I also pray for intense healing for your hurting and broken heart.
I leave you with a beautiful quote I saw at one of my dad’s chemo sessions:
“Cancer can take away a person’s physical abilities. It cannot touch their mind. It cannot touch their heart. And it cannot touch their soul.” ~Jim Valvano
As we encourage our loved ones who are fighting cancer, remember our loved ones who lost their battle with cancer, and honor our loved ones who are beating it, let’s never forget the very things that cancer can never touch: our incredible memories with our loved ones (our minds)…our special relationship with those we will always love and cherish (our hearts)…and all of the beautiful reminders, experiences, and things God and our loved ones want for us, wanted for us, and would want for us now and in the future (our souls).
May we live every day to the fullest in honor of those who have been affected by the thief of cancer…and may we commit to never allowing cancer to steal another memory, emotion, or moment of our lives.
Gratitude and blessings,
©2016 Grief Bites. All rights reserved.
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2. Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/954-grief-bites-doubt-revealed
3. Grief Bites: A New Approach To Growing Through Grief https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/862-grief-bites
4. Grief Bites: Hope For The Holidays: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/1964-grief-bites-hope-for-the-holidays