Monday, March 3, 2014

Part 2: Called to Pray

    If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. (Part 1)

     I decided to find out everything I could about malignant melanoma, so I drove to a bookstore. (This was before Google.) The most important thing I wanted to know was, what is the treatment and what is the survival rate?
     Trying to hold my emotions together, I asked the guy at the information desk, “Where are your medical books?”
     “What exactly do you want to look up?” he asked.
     I swallowed hard. How was I going to be able to say those words, and keep the avalanche of tears back?
     Softly and deliberately, I forced the words out, “malignant melanoma."  I hated those words already.
     He led me to the most current, thick, medical journal. I scoured the table of contents, turned to the page I needed and read silently.
My heart sank into my stomach. Water gushed out of my eyes. No! No! Please God, this can’t be right. I read it again and again:

Stage IV Melanoma
The prognosis for patients with distant metastases is generally poor, with historical 5-year survival rates of less than 10%. 

     Our sweet, spunky, toe-headed Little Sweety, had less than a ten percent chance of surviving for five years?  I closed the book and put it back on the shelf.  Those odds could not be any worse. Why didn’t it just say those people are going to die?

     I drove back to our shop, and between sobs, explained what I read to Vince. He hugged me, as tears flowed out of his already puffy eyes. That anger, that comes from frustration and lack of control, started growing in me.

Why God?
Why was this happening to us?
Why to our little girl?
I hated this! I wanted to scream! This can’t be happening!

     Our life had been going so great. Yesterday, Little Sweety had been healthy and happy, loving her big golden retriever, Shadrach. She had a new baby brother, who was five months old. God had blessed us with a wonderful marriage, and He had enabled us to buy our own print shop. Life was happy for our family, and now this.

     I was not mad at God. I was mad at the situation. I was mad at the cancer. I was mad at the dermatologist for reprimanding us, in the same conversation that he told us our daughter has cancer. What kind of mean doctor does that? We had no idea she might have cancer. Even he had not mentioned it when he removed the mole. How were we supposed to know?

     Vince, having a small hint of hope in his eyes, said, “I really feel like God wants us to call all the Believers we know, and have them pray for Little Sweety.” That sounded like a plan. It sounded like a huge, God sized plan, and much better than reading any more medical books. It turned out to be an emotionally draining task. Calling friends and people we knew from church and having to repeat those awful words, that terrible diagnosis, that evil ‘C’ word that everyone hates. People were shocked. They cried. We cried more. They called others to pray for our daughter. Many people from other churches and other states were praying. In the next few weeks, we received stacks of cards and letters from God’s people who were praying for her.

     Vince made a lot more calls than I did. He was on a mission and focused on calling people to pray. I was starting to feel numb. It hurt too much to tell people this news. It was too painful.  It was exhausting trying to keep it together. Crying that much was draining. Finally, Vince came in and said, “You need to call your parents. They love Little Sweety and would want to know what is going on.”

     I did not want to make that phone call. As their first grandchild, our daughter was precious to them. They loved her so much. It would hurt them to know this, as much as it hurt us. Painful things are hard to do. I knew Vince was right, but I was having a hard time making that call.

     My Mom was at work, and late in the afternoon, I finally summoned the courage to call her.
“Mom, I have some bad news. Little Sweety has malignant melanoma, Stage 4 skin cancer.”

 The phone went silent.

“Mom. . . . .    Mom. . . .  . . .Mom! . . . . . ”

 Finally, a woman she worked with answered.
“Is this Robyn? Your Mom just fainted. We are going to drive her home and she will have to call you later.”

      My Mom had fainted at the news. I knew I should not have called her. I felt worse than ever and more angry at this stupid cancer.  I called my Dad.

      “Dad, I have some really bad news and when I told Mom, she fainted.”

     “What do you mean she fainted?” he asked.

     “I was talking to her and then she fainted. Someone at her work got on the phone and said they were driving her home.”

     “What is the bad news?” he asked.

     I was afraid to say the word. I knew my Dad hated cancer. Cancer had taken his mother and sister years before. I knew he equated cancer with death, because that had been his experience with the terrible disease.

     It is true, cancer does bring death, but God’s people are called to pray.

Have you ever had to tell someone really bad news?  How did they respond?
Have you ever been called to pray for someone?  Did you?           
(Click here to read Part 3)


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