You know how when someone has something rough to tell you, they always ask you what you want first? The good news or the bad news? And then you have to decide if you want the good news first to cushion the blow of the bad news or if you want the bad news first so that the good news brings your spirits back up?
Well, 10 days ago I was presented with some very unexpected bad news.
In my case, the bearer of the news didn’t even ask me if I wanted the good news or the bad news first.
I knew there was bad news coming because I got the call that went something like this:
Nurse: “We have the results of your biopsy (the one I hadn’t even thought about since the day I had gotten it and was told everything looked fine) and the doctor wants to see you.”
Me (confused): “Oh. Umm. Okay. Sure (what doctor is this again?). When does she want to see me?”
Nurse: “Now. Can you come right now?”
Me: “Umm, no, I’m sorry, I have a nail appointment this afternoon”.
Just kidding :). Is there any answer to that question other than “I’ll be right there!”?
Of course my mind immediately went to “The Big C”. Isn’t that what biopsies diagnose? What could be worse news than that?
So, I already knew there was bad news of some sort coming.
But, before I even crossed the “which news do you want first” bridge, I already knew I had the capital-G, capital-N Good News and that whatever bad news there was coming my way, I knew that HE had his hands all over it!
What Good News is that? Who is HE? Well, the Good News of Jesus Christ, that’s who.
The Good News that gives us strength when we don’t think we can do it and peace that surpasses all understanding and faith that He will work all things out for good for those who love him! Not that things always turn out for what we believe is our earthly “good” – but that He will use whatever comes our way for His good!
I was with a good friend when I got the call. We had just come back from an 8th grade school field trip with our sons and were getting ready to part ways, grab our kids from school and head home when the phone rang.
I immediately started to cry after I hung up. I told her what had happened and she immediately grabbed both of my hands and started to pray.
She prayed for peace and strength and for the bad news to be somehow tempered with little-g, little-n good news when I got to the doctor.
I got the kids, ran home and grabbed my husband and he and I headed to the doctor’s office. I told him on the way that I hoped the doctor would start our meeting with, “There’s no need to worry but….”
Before we went in, my husband threw up a quick prayer that we would have the strength to deal with whatever the doctor had to say.
Unfortunately, the doctor didn’t start with “Don’t worry but….” She started with, “I have some bad news.”
And then, “We got the results of your biopsy and I’m sorry to say that it showed some cancer“.
As I sat there kind of stunned, she followed that up pretty quickly with the little-g, little-n good news. “I think we’ve caught it very early. It’s very RARE to catch it this early. Thank God you had the endoscopy with your husband!”
A couple weeks before I got the bad news, my husband was scheduled for an upper endoscopy. He was having some digestive problems that had him thinking he was having some heart issues. I thought the issues were all tied together, but mainly digestive issues, because of some stuff I was learning in an Anatomy class I was taking (which made me an expert :)). So I asked my husband’s cardiologist if he thought that we should look in to the digestive issues before jumping to any conclusions about heart issues.
So we went off to the gastroenterologist together and she ordered an upper endoscopy for my husband. He was anxious to get it done right away and scheduled if for the following week.
I had been having heartburn/GERD issues for YEARS – as in like 20 years! So during my husband’s appointment, since she was ordering an endoscopy for him, I asked the doctor is she could do an endoscopy on me too – just to be sure I wasn’t doing any damage to myself with the years of heartburn.
I would have probably put up with it for 10 more years if my husband and I hadn’t been sitting in that office that day for him!
My grandfather actually passed away from esophageal cancer (at 94 years of age!) almost 5 years ago, which is what put it on my radar screen.
I didn’t know this then, but esophagus cancer is a rare cancer to begin with (about 12,000/year in the US get this type of cancer). It’s one rarely caught early because there usually are no symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to interfere with swallowing. And at that point, it has a very low survival rate.
My husband ended up getting a cold and couldn’t get his endoscopy on the day he had originally scheduled. So in the meantime, I had my appointment with the doctor to set up my endoscopy and we ended up getting the procedure done together!
You’ve heard of couples massages? We got couples endoscopies on March 14. We literally followed that up with a couples massage on March 23rd. I know, kind of crazy right? We sound like those annoying 16 year olds that wear matching shirts :).
We each got diagnosed with acute esophagitis and gastritis (inflammation of the esophagus and stomach) from our couples endoscopies – yes, matching diagnoses. And we were each put on the same prescription proton pump inhibitor.
But thank God, only one of us got the bad news. And as corny as all the couples, matchy-matchy stuff above sounds, I was honestly glad it was me.
For one thing, I was getting ready to have some time on my hands to deal with it. I had a final Physics exam the day after I received the diagnosis and then I would be done with school for 5 months until my core program starts.
Secondly, God blessed me with the ability to grin and bear medical poking and prodding. I don’t like it. Nobody likes it! But I can tolerate it. And I don’t worry too much about it. My husband, not so much! So it’s not like there was a choice who would receive the bad news, but if one of us was going to go down this road, I was glad it was me.
Fast Forward to today (10 days later):
I’ve been poked and prodded. I’ve read no less than 100 articles about esopahgeal adenocarcinoma (mostly about the unbelievable rarity of catching it early and having a good prognosis). I’ve had a CT scan that, praise God, showed nothing has metastisized nor is there lymph node involvement in my chest and stomach. I’ve been to an oncologist, a gastro specialist and back to the original gastro doctor for appointments and a repeat endoscopy and biopsies. Tomorrow I have a PET scan which also checks for any distant metastatisis. By Tuesday or Wednesday (April 8th or 9th), I should have a pretty clear picture of where I stand.
But so far, it seems to be a miraculous discovery with a good prognosis.
But wherever I stand when the dust settles, I know that God has me in the palm of His hand!
As an aside:
In 2010, I had a trial in my marriage that seemed bigger to me than the diagnosis I received on March 26.
The trial did a few things for me. It grew me in Christ like nothing ever has before. While I was walking with the Lord already at the time, I had a microwave conversion of sorts where my walk was concerned. It showed me that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, God can be trusted to give us what we need when we need it and that He is with us every step of the way. My marriage was not only restored, but it became more than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams – and it’s exactly what I need for “today’s” trial.
God promises that He will do more than we could ever hope or imagine. He promises that he has a plan for us – plans to give us a future and hope. And he says we have no need to fear! He kept all His promises in 2010. And I know he will do that for me in 2014, even if it doesn’t include the outcome that I hope you will all join me in praying for!
I could not have made it through last week’s bad news without the trial I went through in 2010. That trial has been the gift that keeps on giving and I know this one will be too.
So am I worried about last week’s bad news or any bad news I may receive this coming week or beyond?
Why? Because no matter what the bad news is, I already have the capital-G, capital-N Good News! And you can handle any bad news if you have the Good News first!
Precious Merrie Beth,
I love you!! Praying for you constantly (except for when I have to yell at people when I’m driving! I know you’ll understand. 😃)
I’m here if you need me.
Merrie Beth, thanks so much for writing this. You are amazing. Lots of love coming your way (except when I have to watch out for Dede yelling at me while I am driving 😉 love, Tina.
Tears of sadness and joy. Thank you for your beautiful, inspirational words. Keeping you in prayer.
Love to you and your family
Thank you for sharing this. I’ll be praying! Please PLEASE let me know what I, and Impact, can do for Haley and Steven. We love you guys!
Awesome stuff. Can we repost to the MOMS Facebook page or would you rather not?
Sent from my iPhone
I think I got it posted on MOMs last night but feel free to post it there if I didn’t hit the right buttons!
Merrie Beth, I am so proud of the discerning woman you have become. You express yourself in such a wonderful way and I join with many others in prayer for you. You are courageous and your sense of humor is still in tact. Much love!
You are a wonderful inspiration and brilliant shining light! Praying for strength and peace! Glad you have the power of Jesus!
Praying for you and your family!
[…] March 25, 2014, the day before I found out that I have esophagus cancer (see that story here), I made a plea to a friend who is going through a nasty divorce. Things are just going terribly […]