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When the body protests, the soul hardens; My cancer journey (Part 3)

The call from the doctor came during lunch hour. He asked me to meet him at his office the following day and I agreed. However, within fifteen minutes I had called him back asking to see him immediately. I could not contain my curiosity which was coupled with fear and anxiety. It was a relief to hear that he had a free afternoon, so I rushed to town. When I went into his office he was very pleasant and seemed intrigued by my lack of patience. I did apologize for it, but he was not surprised by my actions. It was normal, he said.

He then pulled out some papers from an A4 envelope. My heart was pounding although I looked calm on the outside. As he read out the lab findings, I felt light-headed. Finally, he broke the news to me, that I had cancer. He used a scientific name for cancer, and I did not ask what he meant in layman’s terms. I had heard the dreaded word – cancer, and I did not want to know more details at that point. I felt like I had just been handed a death sentence.

Having watched so many movies with a cancer theme, I expected the doctor to tell me that I had three or six months left to live. My mind went into overdrive and my immediate environment became a blur. I heard nothing of what the doctor said, I was in a different space, though physically present. It took a lot of strength not to cry because I needed the strength to listen to the next steps that the doctor was recommending. I was unable to move or think, but inwardly I wanted to run out of that office to an unknown and undetermined destination. I just wanted to run.

The doctor then handed me a business card with a doctor’s name on it. He mentioned that he was a great oncologist and would further interpret the lab results for me and would walk me through this new journey of cancer. Sheepishly I thanked the doctor for his time and for all he had done for me during my surgery. I was not sure if I was grateful that the biopsy had revealed that I had cancer, nor was I sure if I was grateful that the doctor had told me that I had cancer.

My head was reeling as I walked to my car. As I drove out of the doctor’s premises I broke down. I found a safe place to park and I let out a flood of tears that I had held back during the conversation with my doctor. With my windows shut I screamed into the steering wheel, I was uncontrollable. After some time, I calmed down and in between sobs I sent texts to a couple of my close friends. I did not know how to break the news to my family.

One of my friends then called my mother and told her the news. I was livid because I felt it was too soon to tell her. She then called me and I steeled myself in the conversation as I did not want her to hear me cry or to know that tears were flowing down my cheeks as i talked to her, but she knew me better than that. She said we should meet at church in an hour’s time, and I failed to refuse. The church was the last place I wanted to go to. I was so angry at God.

I felt my world spinning and crashing down on me as I drove to church. In the parking lot I could not bring myself to get out of the car. Instead, I sat there waiting for my mother to arrive. A few minutes later she drove in and I took a deep breath and told myself not to cry – it would break her I knew. She asked if I had entered church already and when I said no, she took my hand and literally dragged me in.

She went to one of the pews closest to the altar and knelt and got engrossed in prayer. I sat right at the back watching her, and I thought that she was praying like Hannah in the Bible. I started counting the number of benches on each side of the aisle – 14 on each side. I looked at the ceiling and counted the ceiling boards. I counted the light bulbs on the four chandeliers in the church – 12 on each. At the altar, I counted two fluorescent lights. I marveled at the immaculate flower arrangements, reminding myself that I am not good at or passionate about flower arrangements, but I love receiving flower bouquets. Round the church walls, I counted the 14 images of the stations of the cross. I counted and counted and counted, as my mother prayed.

When she was done, I looked up at the huge crucifix, then closed my eyes and said, “Dear God, I do not know what to say to you or how to say anything to you. At this point, I am so sad, so broken and so angry. Angry at you for giving me this burden, angry at you for forsaking me, angry at myself for the doubt I have for you at this moment. You saw my mother praying so earnestly; you have always answered her prayers but you care nothing about mine as you keep inflicting pain on me. I am sure she was praying for me or about me. Please answer her accordingly. As for me, I have nothing to say to you.”

I then made the sign of the cross, genuflected, and made my way out of the church. Back at the car park, my mother softly said, “I am sure God has heard us and will answer our prayers.” I just shrugged, knowing that I had just shouted at God and poured out my rage at Him.

James 1:2-4 says ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’

I felt no joy in this new trial, neither did I understand why I had to persevere. Instead, I was enraged.

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