Managing the prognosis can be almost as difficult as coping with the diagnosis. The bone scan results are not as good as we hoped and now we make appointments for another specialist, another opinion on the long-term effects of the months of chemotherapy, the full body irradiation and the cortisone.
Sometimes I sit in complete silence in an empty room, processing it all but even my silent thoughts fill the space with deafening sounds. So I choose to leave early for a coffee before work. As I drive I am aware of the way the headlights reflect off the wet road causing a trillion stars to shine back at me off the bitumen.
It’s strangely beautiful this eternal night, this sleepless state, I find myself in. The whoosh of the wheels of the traffic on the wet road can’t drown my anxious thoughts. Nor can the bustle of businessmen lining up for coffee while I sit comfortable in a cosy corner pouring my heart on my page. It’s the light and the sounds, the company of people that provide comfort over the tug inside me.
Anxiety hovers on the edge of my mind and as I write, I see him jump. A tiny man on a bungy cord descending down to the depth of my soul then rebounding upwards again, he takes refuge on the cliff of my heart. “Be still, be still.”
Sometimes, like the children, Hope finds it difficult to find a place in the circle were all my thoughts have gathered to discuss my life. Sometimes all my thoughts need do is wriggle backwards a little and let Hope in. Instead Hope lingers in the background waiting for someone to notice she needs a spot. Unlike Fear, she waits to be invited.
Fear plonks himself right in the centre so we have to notice him. He is outspoken, doesn’t wait for a turn; we have to respond and ask him to move.
Not Hope. Hope waits for the invitation and when Hope arrives we all want the spot next to her. If only we could remember the trick for making room.
I don’t banish Fear completely. To ignore him or send him away would seem foolish. Sometimes Fear has something worthwhile to say. I need to listen to his words but not let him have control. I am the one in authority. I have the final say. If he causes trouble I take him to a higher authority. And so Fear is managed.
Fear reminds me to double check the medications each morning, to make the appointments, to phone for results. Fear gets me out of bed but it is Hope that reminds me to pray.
Then after prayer and God’s word, Faith comes. Faith is contagious. Everyone is happy to see him. They don’t mind if he gets the best spot, they are happy if Faith takes the place on my chair.
Faith instructs us and Fear is silenced. Still present but silent!
Fear watches, waiting for another turn.
Hope keeps an eye on Fear and brings a finger to her lips, gesturing Fear to stay quiet.
Faith has the capacity to lift our eyes. The problem doesn’t seem quite as big when Faith is with us. Faith says, ‘We’ll work this out. Even if today we only get through a little part, there will be answers tomorrow.’
Hope and Grace hold hands together. They smile and swing their hands like delighted children.
The bones will grow strong with medication and time and prayer. Her body will produce what it needs. We fix our eyes on Jesus because Faith reminded us to lift our heads.
Hope says anything is still possible and Joy steps in, reminding me to put on music and sing. Like a circle of crying, fearful, excited, talkative or shy children; all my thoughts come together when we begin to praise.
Great battles have been won throughout history when the people began to praise.
2 Chronicles 20:20-22 (Amplified Bible)
‘And they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe and remain steadfast to His prophets and you shall prosper.
When he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their holy [priestly] garments as they went out before the army, saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever!
And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir who had come against Judah, and they were [self-] slaughtered.’