I loved soda. Loved to drink it, loved the bubbles, the flavor, and the bite. I drank it every day, sometimes for breakfast. My mother hated soda and hated that I drank it. Over the years I did attempt to quit, but my resolve didn’t last long. The headaches would start, then the cravings. And I missed it. I just really liked drinking soda. One morning while visiting my parents, my mom saw me sneak a soda out of the fridge (I had brought my own secret stash). “AHA!” She yelled and I knew I was in trouble.She addressed my step-dad, “Do you see what she is drinking? For BREAKFAST?” My step-dad and I had worked out a secret scheme over the years. We had our little foibles, and we developed the philosophy, “What Mom doesn’t know won’t hurt her.” So during the soda skirmish with my mom, I turned to my co-conspirator and asked him, “Do you really care that I am drinking soda with breakfast?” “No.” He replied. Mom went through the roof. “You are going to rot out your stomach!” End of discussion.
I knew something was wrong before I went to my first doctor appointment. My stomach was bulging; my bellybutton went from an “innie” to an “outie.” I had to go to the bathroom frequently and I was tired. I didn’t know what was wrong but definitely knew it was something. Lying on the exam table, as the doctor poked around my abdomen, I could tell he knew something was wrong too. He left the room and my first thought was, “Oh no, Mom was right. I rotted out my stomach.”
Well, it turned out it wasn’t my stomach. (SCORE: One point for me.) It was a large tumor coming off of my ovary, and we later learned it originated from the uterus. Uh-oh. All of my unscheduled OB-GYN appointments flashed through my mind. I couldn’t even remember the last time I had gone to the gynecologist. I hated it. In fact one year my primary doctor wrote out a prescription on his little white pad for me to go to the gynecologist. He had asked if I had gone that year. No. The year before? No. He was frustrated, wrote the prescription and handed it to me like a parking ticket. “You need to go,” and I finally did but still wasn’t regular about it. (SCORE: Loss of original point). I cannot ignore the irony that by avoiding the appointments earlier in life, I now had OB-GYN appointments scheduled every three months for the next two years. But no complaining now --I was thankful.
For me the “why,” as in “Why did I have cancer?” seemed obvious. My own neglect. Or at least that was the reason it had advanced in my body as much as it had. But the “why” goes beyond that when addressing cancer. It becomes, “Why me?” “Why her?” “Why him?” It seems the younger the person is the bigger the “WHY” becomes. We realize life isn’t fair. When I heard my cancer diagnosis, and knew my own health history, the why question didn’t hit me that hard personally. But when I learned of an 18 year old friend with cancer, the “why” became huge. Is God still around? The psalmist asks,
“Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1.
Then later he answers himself,
“You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.” Psalm 10:17.
There are a lot of unanswered questions between the “why” and the “answer.” God is present; He hears our prayers, and our petitions. He knows of our afflictions and encourages our hearts during our trials. Yet the “why” may not be answered in this lifetime. It is one of the hard truths. We have to give the “why” over to God and trust that He cares, He loves, He knows.
Devotion Four: "The Why" excerpted from: The Bald Headed, Tattooed, Motorcycle Mama’s Devotional Guide: For Women Battling Cancer and Those Who Love Them. Copyright © 2013 by Sara Nelson O’Brien