Cancer has a face | a personal story

It happens all of the time.  I will be scrolling through facebook reading random posts about people’s good fortunes or burnt dinners and looking at selfies of people who clearly love themselves…. when I see a post about someone with cancer. My heart stops for a moment, I feel sorrow for the family and I may say a quick, “Jesus, please be with them during this difficult time” prayer, or even write an encouraging Bible verse on their timeline so they know I was thinking about them.  And then something happens….my life goes on.  I continue my day, play with my children, pin another pinterest crock pot recipe that I will never make, and all is well.  Cancer may be something that goes away for me when I log out of facebook, but unfortunately for the lives of those with cancer and their families…it doesn’t go away with a swipe of a finger.  Cancer is alive and it has a face….and right now to me, it’s the face of my Uncle Rick.

My Uncle found out he had cancer this past September, right before he walked his beautiful daughter down the isle to say “I do”.  Just a few days after the wedding, he had one kidney removed and hopes were high that all of the cancer was gone. After some testing, they found it was a rare renal cancer and it had spread to my Uncle’s brain. This news would have most people waiving their white flags in surrender, but my Uncle is a fighter…and he is fighting still today. 

(This image was taken on Katie’s wedding day after giving her dad a card {it must have been a Hallmark card}….it was hard to keep my camera steady. What a beautiful, absolutely perfect day….)

If anyone has gone through cancer, you know it’s a roller coaster ride of scary twists and turns, good news, bad new…uncertainty. My Uncle’s cancer not only affects him…but everyone around him.  He’s not only my Uncle, he is a son, a brother, a husband, and a father.  For the last forty years he has been beside my Aunt Janet…he’s her best friend. I can’t even imagine what she is going through, the thoughts that fill her head when she sits still, the conversations she has had to have with him about the future.  Worrying about the unknown, about waking up in the middle of the night with no one to wrap her cold feet around, about how she will survive a week, let alone a day without him. It makes me want to climb the highest mountain, throw my hands in the air and scream until I’m hoarse, begging God to make every one’s pain go away.  

(my kids playing Lego’s beside Uncle Rick’s temporary bed)

 I think about my cousin Katie…how she puts on a cheerful face and plays with my daughter, when in the back of her mind she is probably thinking, “What if my dad isn’t here to see his own grand babies? Who will read them their favorite story? Who will sneak them treats when I’m not looking, kiss their boo boos and let them stay up late?” 

I think about my cousin Parker and how his heart must be hurting…worrying about if he will have to be the man of the house and take care of his mom.  I think about my Uncle’s father and how helpless he must feel, worrying if he will have to say goodbye to his only son. 

(my daughter sporting a Rick Strong hat)

One thing that struck me this weekend as I visited with my family, was that even though they are worried, even though they are scared…they have such an undeniable hope. They are still able to laugh and find the joy in things that would make most people cry. For instance, my Uncle is losing his hair to radiation, so my Aunt thought she would use a lint roller on his head to see if it would help with the shedding….c’mon, you can’t help but giggle a little bit. 

Their hope doesn’t come from doctors or nurses, their hope comes from the Lord. They trust God is going to walk them through this journey, because although they don’t know what the future holds…God does.  It’s already been written… Uncle Rick’s life has a purpose that God has planned long before he was born.  And as we are still believing and praying that God will heal my Uncle, we also acknowledge that the Lord’s healing may not be the same kind of healing we are wanting…because an ultimate healing is to be with God.  As I was sitting staring at the “welcome home” sign in their living room, I couldn’t help but realize how temporal this life we know is…this is not our real home. And if you know Christ, just imagine the “welcome home” you will receive when it’s finally time to leave this earth…to be brought into the glorious gates of Heaven with the loving arms of Jesus wrapped around you. Do you have the hope of Christ?

I love you so much Uncle Rick! #Rickstrong!

Who’s face do you see when you hear the word cancer? Is it yours? Is it a loved one or a dear friend? Leave their name in the comment section here or on facebook, and I will pray for each person…because cancer has a face…a name. 

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