(Previously published September 7, 2010)
Last week was glorious.
It was a return to life before cancer.... feeling like myself again. A week without doctor's appointments, (except for one Vit. C infusion), without tiredness overshadowing my day, without breast cancer determining my steps and schedule. Without constantly talking about this disease.
A week of homeschooling, football (of course!), making dinner again and doing laundry, running errands, being fully present with the children: All the little things that I had taken for granted before cancer entered my world and that of my family. We went to football games on Saturday and Sunday sitting on the sidelines cheering as Seth ran the ball within one foot of scoring a touchdown and Luke knocked down any opponent that dared crossed his path. We went out to dinner as a family (and I actually was able to eat). And we went to a wedding yesterday, children included, celebrating two lives that God has joined together. Truly a beautiful ending to a glorious week of normalcy, joy and togetherness as a family.
And all was good.....
........except for the looming hair loss that hung before me. The next passageway on this journey.
The calendar that would count down the days to the next chemo treatment and the talked about "Day 14" which would mark hair coming out upon my pillow in the morning. A day I didn't want to see or think about. As my oncologist told me, "You can expect your hair to come out by your next chemo treatment.
That treatment is this Thursday.
And as I blew dry my hair Monday morning, styling it for the wedding, trying to make it look pretty for my husband who loves my long hair.....wearing it down (with dark roots and all), melancholy flowed over me. It will be a long time before I do this again.
Will I be able to embrace the new reflection starring back at me in the mirror after my hair is gone?
And all I can do is embrace God even tighter.
Tomorrow my day begins early with lab work, then onto my plastic surgeon for yet another "filling" and then to my oncologist in preparation for round 2 of chemo Thursday morning.
At 2:00, I will sit in the hair salon chair as my long hair is shaved and falls to the ground. As my head will return to the day that I left my mother's womb and entered this world.....bald. As breast cancer now is not something that can be hidden under my shirt, but now worn for everyone to see.
I don't know what these next steps look like. But yet I walk. I'm a little scared. I'm a lot weak. And I'm fighting to focus on the little step in the big picture. This is temporary. Hair will grow back. (probably darker and curlier, so I'm told). And my beauty is not in my hair or my eyebrows or my eyelashes. They adorn my head, but yet are not what defines who I am. And more than anything, I struggle with what is displayed to the eyes of the beholders. Will you see a woman who loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind and strength? Or will you see a woman who is bald with cancer? Will you see beauty or just disease?
And as I even write these questions, my heart is pricked because the very root of my fear is my own insecurity and pride. Sin that entangles my heart and draws me into a self-reflective posture that cares too much about how I'm seen by the world.
Losing your hair is no small step. But what is so much more important is not what my hair looks like, but what my heart looks like before the Lord. What dwells there that is causing Him to look upon me with sadness? The fear, the pride, the insecurity.....they need to fall as the hair upon my head is shaved.
And as they do, as I confess each one of these sins which lay deep inside my heart to God, my Father, may I be adorned with the grace of God, the love of Christ and the redemption that I have in Him knowing that I am not a workmanship of cancer, but of Christ Jesus.
As the stylist tomorrow fits me for my wig and styles it making me appear as before....may I not be the same woman.
May I be changed.
May I embrace that image in the mirror reflecting back at me knowing that God is doing a bigger work in my heart and life. The old must go and the new must come. May I rejoice at this passageway and thank God for the privilege of walking so closely with my Savior. May my heart be filled with thanksgiving that He loves me enough that He allowed this cancer into my life for His purposes.
The image of one set of footprints in the sand. He is carrying me.
He is filling me with His Spirit, searching my heart and He knows me. Purify me Lord. And He desires to transform me into the image of Jesus Christ. And as I want to turn and run from "Day 14" in every part of my weak flesh, may I instead turn and run into the arms of my loving Father who only needs one hand to uphold me.......His righteous right hand.
Tomorrow, I walk through that next passageway and bend in the long hallway from the door called chemo. I walk hand in hand with my Savior....my husband and a few precious friends who will cheer me on.
"Do not let your adornment be merely outward-arranging the hair, wearing gold or putting on fine apparel-rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." 1 Peter 3:3,4