As I left work one night my cell phone rang. It was Michelle. She had been admitted to the hospital and some tests had revealed a spot on her brain. She filled me in on the events that had led to her hospital stay and the reason for the scans. Her doctor was confident the spot (possible tumor) was benign. The protocol would be to periodically repeat the scans looking for any signs of change. Months would go by and the scans would be repeated. There would be calls and text messages with the words, "no change". And then I got a different call. The area of concern had more than doubled in size. There would need to be a biopsy done. Michelle was facing brain surgery. The news was unreal to me. I was immediately gripped with fear. But not Michelle. We talked about the possible outcomes from this, the best and the worst. She really had no fear for herself, just concern for family. She would not let this interrupt her life. She met with her doctors and the surgery was scheduled. She shared with them she was determined to recover from her surgery in time to walk at her college graduation the following month. The surgery was done and all of the growth was removed. Michelle and her family waited for a week for the results from the biopsy. I was out shopping when I received the next call. Stage 4 brain cancer. Michelle and I cried together over the phone. The following months would be filled with graduation, radiation and chemo, a trip with her Daddy, and a new job as a social studies teacher. She would say goodbye to 2012 with these words, "well, 2012 it's almost time to tell you goodbye. I have to tell you that I'm really not sad to see you leave. After all, you tried to kill me! But.... you did not succeed. Instead, my body was able to survive brain surgery, 30 radiation treatments, and 52 chemo treatments, and I'm still going strong. You did give me some good things too, such as: reassurance that I have the BEST family and friends in the world. An understanding of HOPE and PEACE that I never would have experienced otherwise. So 2012, I guess you weren't so bad . Here's to ya 2012.... and tell your buddy 2013 that this ole girl can take whatever she dishes out and I'm ready!"
Michelle would begin 2013 with more treatments and infusions all while still teaching school. She would make plans to participate in a Relay for Life event in May. She named her team "Conquerors for a Cure" referencing Romans 8:37--- "In all these things we are more than conquerors." I was more than honored when she asked me to be a part of her team. My husband and I made the trip over for the event. A monsoon ensued, and we moved the party to Michelle's house. I hated the weather cancelled the fundraiser, but I selfishly loved our visit with Michelle and her family. July would bring an end to all meds and August would deliver a clear MRI!!! How did Michelle celebrate? By going to work (teaching) and living her life. The scans every few months would continue. Thankfully, the results would continue to be "all clear". Well, until a few weeks ago.....
My dear, sweet friend is currently recovering from round 2 with brain surgery and she and her family await biopsy results yet again. I told my husband on the morning of her surgery how hard it is to think we are getting up starting our day like any other day when she is facing all of this for the second time. Again, no fear for herself and only concern for her family. Her Facebook post today ( her first after surgery) included these verses: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)
I share my history with my lifelong friend and her story as fuel. Anyone who runs knows how important fuel is to the long run. This battle is Michelle's long run. And I know without a doubt that what fuels her now (and it did before) is God's Word and the prayers of her faithful family and friends. Two years ago when Michelle first learned she would be traveling down this road I publicly posted to FB my run for the first time with these words, "been too scared to share not too scared any more. Michelle, you ran with me today Love you my brave friend." Her bravery fueled me that day and it continues to fuel me and so many others today.
Our pastor preached today on "He is Coming Back". The point of his message was (the way I heard it) what is fueling you? We as Christians know He will come again. And when that day comes what will really matter to you. Will it be that grudge you have held on to, or those hurt feelings? Will it be your job, your home or your stuff? Will it be the pettiness of life that distracts you from the newness of each day? How would your attitude change if faced with finite days?
When Michelle called me two years and we cried together we did not know what days were ahead for her. She had just learned she had stage 4 brain cancer. In those moments I told her I felt helpless and I wished there was something I could do. I wished we lived closer so I could do for her and her family. She told me she knew if we lived closer I would be doing all kinds of things for her, but she wanted me to know that she did have the most amazing friends who did live close who were taking care of her and her family. She offered comfort to me. She was to one facing the tough road and yet she was comforting me!!! I can tell you what fuels my friend Michelle, it is love for others. No fear for herself and only concern and love for others.
Please pray for my friend Michelle and her family. I can guarantee you she is doing the same for you!!!! Prayer and love for others is fuel!