So, we live in a different state since I last wrote. A lot has happened. I will try to catch you up in a brief summary if you aren’t aware of the Owen adventures in full, and in the future, I will do my best to keep things more up to date. But please don’t hold me to that.
In the midst of all the happenings that have been previously documented on this blog (which, if needed, you can go back and access for reference), there was an entire separate venture transpiring behind the scenes. What some may be unaware of is that my husband actually registered for classes unto a biology degree with the ultimate goal of attending medical school only a couple of months PRIOR to my initial diagnosis in December of 2015. He was supposed to start his classes in January of 2016. That, however, was put on hold. In May of 2019, he astoundingly graduated with honors and a Bachelor’s in Biology and is now a first year medical student at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine. This, by the way, is not just any medical school, but one of the top in the nation. He achieved this, not only after being out of school for well over 10 years, but also while helping take care of 3 kids and supporting me in all of my sickness, surgeries and treatments. This is most definitely a testament to his incredible brain and hard work, but mostly to the grace of God in our lives throughout all of this, and to the miraculous level of support around us from friends and family.
Below, is us at lunch on the 15 hour drive up ; our new home ; and the crew of fellow Medical students who emptied our moving truck in less than 2 hours!
Mayo is not only one of the best Medical Schools in the country, but it is also one of the top hospitals, and in many specialties, it is THE top hospital. So for someone with my history, not a bad place for me to be either. Some would say, wow, what a great coincidence! Nope. Not coincidence. This post could end right here as that is enough to make anyone stop and think for a while.
At my first doctor’s visit at Mayo (which consisted of over an hour face to face with the doctor, which is a really long time in medicine world), they started raising the question of whether I should stay on the treatment for a longer period of time for maintenance and prevention. After much talk, prayer, and more talking with others, we determined to go with their recommendation and therefore continue receiving treatment for a total of 1 year from when it was started. This was a tough pill for me to swallow, as through tears, I expressed my deep desire to JUST. BE. DONE. It’s been a long 4 years, and to have it extended even further? Yuck. And yet, God didn’t bring us to Mayo just for Robby to go to school, but He brought me here as well, for reasons only He can fully foresee. So I trust, and I walk, and I keep living life. It’s funny how I always tend to look for the end of one season, so the next can start. Yet I’m reminded, as I view the vivid red trees and golden fields, how the mixture of one season as it is turning into the next is sometimes the most beautiful time of year! The colors can be the most vibrant during the transition if we choose to see it that way.
So back to us being here in Minnesota: I had never even been to MN prior to coming here to look for houses. Currently, we are enjoying “fall ya’ll,” and desparately trying to keep our southern accents here in the near-Canada north. I tried to hold off as long as I could, but yes, the heat is now on in the house. Meanwhile, back in Tennessee, they are trying their best to enjoy fall in 90 degree heat. So, pick your poison.
When I was still in Tennessee, as I’ve mentioned in a prior post, I had the privilege of getting to go to the TN Prison for Women and help with our church services there. The last time I was there, at the end of the service one of the inmates came up to me with a question. This intrigued me, because she was the person that seemed to be paying attention the least. She had sunglasses on and was shifting in her chair throughout the entire service. Her question proved otherwise. “How”, she asked, “can you say that God has not ‘let you down’ by letting you get cancer?” I had shared with them how I still feel that God has my best interest at heart and is working out a much better plan in my life, despite what the circumstances looked like. And that I do not believe He caused it, even though He has allowed it. At that point in time I had just had ANOTHER surgery (my 3rd) and started another treatment—the fourth attempt at overcoming this cancer. I don’t remember my exact words to her, but in essence, I trust that the changes in me in response to my hardships, are changes so necessary that any amount of suffering is worth it. Recently, as I finished Lysa Terkeurst’s book It’s Not Supposed to be This Way, and she puts into words my exact sentiments that brought me to tears as I read them, the words almost seemed to be pouring directly from God’s heart to mine: “For in the incessant wrestling she will come to learn something most people never learn. She will see I didn’t do these things to her. I did them for her. Though it broke my heart to give her the opposite of what she wanted, she will watch me eventually turn all that bad into good. I will turn it all upside down, and in doing so she will live right side up.” -(Lysa Terkeurst, written as if God is hypothetically speaking)
Compared to so many people in the world, it is hard to say that I have even suffered. In all duration of time, a few years of challenges, surgeries, hair loss, medicine and fatigue is still nothing compared to the sufferings of many. Lack of food, homes, loss of children or family members, persecuted for their faith, their own lives being threatened,—the list goes on. In my opinion, far beyond anything I have experienced. I hesitate to even refer to my own experience as suffering. At the most, more of a preference of comfort that wasn’t met.
Yet I believe that God doesn’t compare our “suffering” to others the way we do. He allows certain suffering and if there is any comparison, I believe it would be more about the response to it. How we choose to respond in the midst of that suffering. What we choose to do with it. Question it? Shake our fist? Self-medicate? Or share it? Share it with Christ, allow his healing and comfort, which, to my human dismay, doesn’t always mean a complete respite. Yet, if we take down our defenses and receive it, it is more than we need to be sustained. The goal then being to share it with others. Everyone suffers. And when you allow others to see your own pain, they may feel more comfortable with theirs and thus more open to the idea of healing in the midst of it rather than waiting for the end. Suffering is not an interruption to our lives. It is a part of our lives; and sometimes a necessary part of our life to ensure that we are fully living.
“Because there’s someone in the world who would drown in their own tears if not for seeing yours.” -Lysa Terkeurst
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 3-5
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:5-11 ESV