January 27, 2020. “Mom, are you sitting down? Mom, I have colorectal cancer. They saw some masses in my liver, but those are probably nothing.”
My world changed.
Feb 27, 2020. “Mom, the tumours in my liver are the same cancer as in my rectum. It’s stage 4 and they can’t operate right now. I get a PICC line put in tomorrow and I start Chemo on Monday.”
My world changed even more.
My son, my Timmy, has cancer. He’s only 37. He’s a dad, a husband, a son and a son-in-law. He’s a brother, an uncle, a nephew, a grandson, and an ex husband. He’s a teacher, a musician, and a hard worker. He’s creative, he’s kind, but let’s be honest, he’s also been known to drive me crazy! But those are stories for another time.
During the month in between those two calls, we talked almost daily.
That’s not unusual. We talk a lot. During his teaching practicum experiences we spoke often. Mom the teacher, sharing with Tim the pre-service teacher. Little did we know that during both of those practicum experiences, Tim had cancer.
When Tim graduated with his Bachelor of Education I sat on the stage with the Faculty. As Tim crossed the stage I clapped and cheered loudly. The proudest mom in the room. The proudest faculty member on the stage. But little did we know. Tim had cancer.
I am cognizant that this cancer journey is Tim’s story. His to tell as he wishes. As family we respect that. As family what we couldn’t expect was how deeply Tim’s story would impact each of us. From his daughter, who is about to turn 13, to his wife, to his siblings, all are in shock.
Grandma Irmgard, my mom, told us we’d never have to worry about cancer, because “we don’t have cancer in our family! We have heart disease and bad hips!” My mom’s health is in decline and at 85 her memory is sketchy. We won’t bother to tell her she was wrong, that we do indeed have cancer in our family. (We love you mom!)
So far, I’ve shared Tim’s news with few of my friends. Tim’s request was that I not tell many people. Last week he gave me the go ahead to tell who I needed to tell. He does know I blog so I’m positive this is what he meant about telling my friends.
My friends are a stalwart bunch. They pray, they encourage, they laugh, and they cry. On the days I must head out to work, I can feel their prayers surrounding me. I may have tear-rimmed eyes from early morning crying, but I’m getting to work. Thank you dear friends.
My daughter in law, Tim’s wife, Cari, remains steadfast in her support of Tim. She loves him to bits. We may mock their referencing each other as ‘my love’, but I am so glad that they are each others’ love. They need each other. They will need more than each other. I am grateful for the cousins, friends, and colleagues who are standing along side them. Thank you.
The journey ahead will be rough. There is so much unknown and for our family, the unknown is a stressor! As I head into this day, I will rehearse what I know; a practice reinforced by my own beloved husband. Today I know that:
- Tim is loved
- Tim has a strong medical team
- Tim is receiving care quickly
- We do this day by day, moment by moment
- Prayer brings peace
- I don’t have to figure out things that are far down the road. I can focus on now.
- We have each other.
- It’s ok to be really, really, really afraid
- My son has cancer. Today is sad.
When my life gets dark, the hymns of my youth come to mind. How thankful I am for the tradition and comfort of song. The words of this old hymn whisper to my heart today:
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Getting better is possible, right?