(Previously published December 3, 2010)
There are days that you just don't want to forget. Forever etched on your heart and in your mind.
Many of those days are not days of our choosing. They are days that chose us through the hand of a loving and faithful Father. Approving, understanding the significance, and knowing that the purpose holds eternal weight.
Wednesday was one of those days. As my last chemo treatment was before me, I wanted to celebrate.
Celebrate the end, bringing about a new beginning.
Celebrating the journey and all that God had taught me along the way, thus far...knowing there is more ahead, but this passageway complete.
Celebrate life and hope through Jesus Christ.
Celebrate friends and the family of God for whom God used to bring me through. Many who gave more to me than they may ever know.
A couple weeks before the calendar marked my last treatment day, I sat in the chemo lounge, receiving a treatment and watched as a lady finished her course. A bell was brought to the center of the room and this lady rang that bell signifying the end. And she bid farewell to each of us sitting in the chemo chairs announcing her road to wellness was before her. There was a smile on her face and a skip in her step. It was a joyous moment. One I will always remember.
I knew my day was approaching. After 97 days of enduring the effects of chemo....August 26th to December 1st....the passageway was narrowing and the door coming to a close on day 98, December 1st..a new beginning.
And I wanted to celebrate that victory. I didn't just survive. Through Christ, I conquered.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.....yet in all these things we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS through Him who loved us." Romans 8:35,37
And that is victory....sweet victory. That these trials do not separate....they draw us closer, if we'll submit and allow them to.....closer to our Jesus as our dependence is on Him and none other. In Him I am a victor.
Now mind you, I didn't know what that celebration looked like....so I deferred to my precious husband who enlisted the help of some precious other sisters in the Lord.
And once again, I witnessed the body of Christ in action. The love of Christ poured out as a drink offering.
I drank deeply and am still full today.
Once again, my thanks are not enough. They come from a place so deep in my heart and soul and yet I feel I can never adequately repay each of you for the love you have poured out on me and my family. So many of you, God has used in my life these past 8 months. From the time I found the lump in late April until today. These precious woman who surrounded me on Wednesday, have ministered to me in ways that truly bring me to tears as I write these words. From the continual phone calls just checking in on me, to the cards received by their hands in some of my weakest moments, to the prayers that they have ushered to God's throne, often over the phone with me or in person, to the life giving words of Truth from God that they have spoken into me, to the tangible help each chemo week with my children, to the hugs, the gifts received....to the selfless love that they each have offered to me with open hands. May God return to them 10 fold. May God bless them in ways that I never could. Thank you sweet friends, for holding my hand and even raising them when I was too weak. You are tokens of God's grace and love.
And there are many more around me, who were not there that day, who, too, have walked with me. Thank you.
What a beautiful ending God gave me as I crossed that threshold over the chemo doorway once and for all. May these pictures complete this part of HIS story.
The completion bell resting upon a shelf in the chemo lounge. It was my day to ring it~
Ring the bell three times well, its toll will clearly say, "My treatments done! This course is run and now I'm on my way!"
Birdseye view of the chemo lounge. Many hours spent here. Barclay came with me to treatment this morning, but left at lunchtime (now knowing he had much up his sleeve!) and my best friend, Beth, came sitting with me to the end.
As this was all a surprise to me, I later learned that some of my precious friends were waiting in the lobby outside the chemo lounge for their grand entrance as my chemo was completed.
The moment of surprise as they came around the corner bearing balloons, gift baskets and their smiling faces.
I was truly overwhelmed with their love and their desire to share in this special day with me.
Laura, my nurse that day, disconnecting me from the chemo line for the last time.
At this point, my husband had returned with all of our children and my mother, in tow. Here is Jeddy, our 6 year old, coming right over to hug me. Later that night, He told me, "Mommy, I am so glad your chemo is done!"
It is finished!
The man of my dreams. Having walked intimately beside me. Holding me. Enduring. Drawing closer. And here embracing me once again. We celebrate together.
They brought the bell to the center of the room. There were about 7 people still finishing up their treatment that afternoon. I quickly shared with them the passage from Deuteronomy that God had spoken to my heart that morning. Praying that God would encourage their hearts on their journey. "Stand strong in the Lord. Posses the victory that is in Him. He will lead you to the other side...a land flowing with milk and honey. This is what He desires for you. He cares for you deeply. Trust in Him"
And I rang that bell!!
with my sweet, endearing, precious friends and sisters in the Lord.
Some of the many wonderful and gifted nurses that took care of me with a tender heart and a tender touch. With a smile on their face and compassion in their eyes each week. They walked me through each treatment, each Neulasta shot, each question and concern.
After I ran the bell, Beth handed me a baggie filled with laminated Bible verses. My life verse was typed on pretty paper and laminated. 1 Corinthians 15:58 "My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing your labor is not in vain in the Lord." She had made them for me to hand out. I walked through the chemo lounge and asked each person if I could give them this bookmark, that God would encourage their hearts as they continued through their journey. All but one took them. This dear lady, was holding the hand of a friend. As I came to her, she had a story to share with me.
She told me that she is a 30 year cancer survivor. She continued to tell me a story that I will remember forever. After her treatment ended, she worried, as most cancer patients do....that her cancer would come back. Her faith was strong. But Satan was waging a war on her mind. That is his way. He is a lion who seeks daily who he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) She wasn't going to let him win. She was speaking to her priest one day sharing this with him. This is what the priest told her that she passed on to me in that moment....."I wouldn't tell anyone to ever go to hell.....but Satan....my priest told me....you tell him to go to hell, back where he came from and leave you alone!"
The battle is won! Victory is mine says the Lord! AMEN.
And here is my oncologist, who happened to come around the corner at the end of the celebration, Dr. Johnson. Like a mother in many ways to me. Her sweet and gentle spirit drew me. Meekness, in a profession where you don't see that very often. Yet, a woman filled with knowledge and wisdom. God placed me in her hands.
One final farewell....and around the corner, out the door I went. My friends went their way, and we piled in the car heading home....relishing in those beautiful moments and the people that God had blessed me with.
Little did I know the party was to continue at home with others gathered. As we pulled into our neighborhood and drove up the hill, there lining the roadway were familiar cars. Tears of joy flooded my eyes once again. As I walked in there they were. And I pulled them all in for one big group hug.
I am truly blessed beyond measure to know these woman.
We sat around the table, eating, talking and sharing. Fellowship.
And as I shared again what God did in my heart that morning, the message He had for me that truly set the foundation for that day and my days to come....our Pastor's wife and dear friend, Laurie, pulled out a slip of paper that she had written a note to me on, laying atop a package and read it...
."Stacy, I couldn't find "pink" but praise God 'pink - as beautiful as it is, shall be behind you.' I don't know what color stands for triumph....but whatever that color is, it is yours! I believe that whatever grain of fear that was left in you - God has used the vehicle of cancer to stomp it out. You expressed years ago that you battled fear and worry. Faith will and has triumphed! Amen!!
You see.....God confirmed through Laurie, all that He had spoken to my heart just hours before through His Word. He is faithful, always and to the end.
And as my morning began at the throne of Jesus, so too, it ended with my sisters gathered around me, unified through Jesus Christ as He laid His life down for each of us on the cross some 2000 years ago....saying, "It is finished." He conquered death. He took our sin upon His shoulders covering our sin with His blood. Fully God, fully man. He suffered and it was in His suffering that He knows ours, intimately. He meets us there with outstretched arms saying, Come. In Me, there is everlasting life. Believe. Have hope. Find lasting peace.
"I am the way, the Truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. " John 14:6
There is nothing greater than He!!!
I am not a survivor. I am a Victor, through Jesus Christ my Lord.
In Christ's amazing love,