I received a phone call one day that changed my life forever. It felt like a punch in the stomach. My sister called to break the news to all of us. "Dad has cancer, and it's bad."
Moments like these will eventually come to all of us. No one is getting out of this life without bad news. I'm here to tell you that you can live through it, even with joy, and the kind of person you will become is more then extraordinary. You will grow to a maturity that you never expected.
My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. His had metastized outside the prostate and was therefore faced with one choice and that was radiation. He had radiation seeds placed in his prostate which were supposed to kill all the cancer. Two years later the cancer was back. He then started hormone therapy shots. They were to slow the growth of the tumor. It worked, but only for about 1 1/2 years. We then pulled out the big guns and he faced chemotherapy. The chemotherapy slowed the cancer down for a year and the cancer has now spread to his bones. He's in hospice and we don't expect him to live much longer. He is only 71 years old.
I watched my mother go through this heart wrenching process. She would throw up and have diarrhea before every doctor appointment. She would feel faint and dizzy in her chair as the oncologist walked into the small room with my dad's report in hand. It was always bad news-always. They would then go out to the car and sit in the parking lot and cry. Then there were the phone calls that needed to be made to family. It was a grueling experience.
I watch my mother now and can say she is my hero. She has been married to this man for 50 years and depends on him for a lot of things in life, yet she is not scared. She is sad, but she is not scared. She takes care of him and is able to smile, laugh with him and pray over him. She says with all certainty that God will take care of her as He always has and she has nothing to fear. She reads the book of Job in the Old Testament quite often and leans on God's grace, thanking Him daily for the 50 years she has had Dad in her life. She is not mad or bitter, she is at peace. Her sole purpose in life is to make sure Dad knows that to die is to gain, and that there is no greater joy than meeting the Saviour face to face and being 100% whole again. She knows that there is a celebration being prepared as Jesus anticipates with great joy Dad's homecoming.
Many people have said to me, "How do you visit your dad and not cry the whole time you are in his presence?" I have thought about that and would say to you I would not have believed I could do it. But God does have a promise that His beloved will not sway when the rains fall. He has kept that promise to our family. The strength you will receive when the time comes for you to say good-bye to a loved one will come only from God and you will look back and see God's grace and how he provided strength at just the right time.
I went to visit my dad last week-end. He lives 4 hours away and so he wanted to take me out for lunch before my long drive home. He could barely make the walk in to the restaurant, but he was determined to go. When we finished eating he reached in his wallet and took out the last $8.00 he had and gave it to me so I would have extra cash on hand, just in case. That's the dad I love. The one who gave selflessly to his children and his wife his entire life. I will miss him greatly, but the joy that will occur when we all spend eternity together in heaven, completely free of any sadness, illness or pain, puts a smile on my face and keeps me at the throne of God every single day.