On the last day of July, my Dad turned sixty.
On the first day of August, he was diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma.
It was sudden, horrifying, and a nausea-inducing roller coaster of various diagnoses to end up at that point. His diagnosis was confirmed last Monday by a specialist in Memphis.
The tumor did have blood vessels, so according to the specialist, if it is intending to metastasize, it already has. Whether or not it has spread to the rest of his body is yet to be seen – there will soon be tests, but those tests may be too early to be conclusive.
Following that, there will be more scans, treatments, and some level of vision loss – an intense journey.
A journey that I, for one, am not prepared to take.
I’ve been living in a blur for the past three weeks. Unfortunately, life doesn’t slow down just because one needs to sit and process – there’s been a trip to New York, thousands of emails to answer, Vault Parties, my commitment to be a Birmingham Restaurant Week Blogger, preparing for a new year of homeschooling, and perhaps the hardest task of all to do well during this time – being a Mommy.
Although I’ve been careful to not say anything on social media until my Dad was ready for it to be public knowledge, it’s been a hard few weeks. I’ve had many days of ups and downs, and in general have lived with a steady level of anxiety that has caused me to not be able to sleep or eat well, which has in turn made me sick and lose weight. But throughout it all, there have been two things that have helped me redirect my mindset.
First of all, my Dad. He has been tirelessly optimistic, disarming, and nearly unconcerned. Every time I’ve talked to him, I’ve come away feeling as if I’m just being too dramatic about the whole thing – clearly, everything is perfectly fine. His faith – and not just faith like “I believe” faith, but faith like “I believe so I actually feel differently” faith has exhorted me and convicted me about my own unnecessary anxiety.
In an email last week, Dad told me, “Too many times in my life stuff has happened to me that has seemed like the worst thing that could have happened, but God always works in way that I could never have imagined. Seems silly, but I think it will be exciting to see how this will all be used for His glory.”
Yes – that is what I want. That is the attitude I want. That is how I want to live my life.
The second thing that has helped has been to constantly return to the Word of God, especially the Psalms. There are so many passages of reminders of God’s Goodness, God’s control over everything, and of our safety when we rest in His arms. On my most anxious of days, I’ve carved out a little extra time to just sit with my prayer journal and bible and just copy down verses – I’m sure that David doesn’t mind a little bit of plagiarism.
After a page or so, my heart begins to beat a little slower, and I can feel my anxiety loosening it’s grip on my mind.
I know that it will be a journey, and perhaps a long journey. But I also am fully convinced that God does have it all under control, and already knows exactly what it will entail.
But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear…
As I write this, Ali is enjoying quiet time upstairs in her room. Through the monitor, I hear her softly singing…
“He answers prayers, He answers prayers.
He answers prayers, He’s so good to me.”
She has no idea how very right she is.
My parents are still planning on taking their two week 40th anniversary adventure before any treatments begin. The current schedule is to get scans to check for cancer in other areas of his body (primarily lungs and liver) this week, and then in five weeks, Dad will go back to Memphis for another evaluation. Possible treatments include a weeklong placement of a radioactive “plaque” on the back of his eye to attempt to destroy the tumor. Your prayers are appreciated!