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Praising God when your world has shattered

A year ago this month Mel was getting ready to enter the hospital for his 7th cycle of chemo. We were exhausted as the year had been draining with Mel spending two weeks every month in the hospital getting chemotherapy. But we were also relieved because the cycles of chemo were almost over. The tests revealed that the cancer was gone and after 8 cycles of chemo the oncologist was optimistic that Mel would do good on maintenance drugs.

 (This is when my husband was first diagnosed with cancer. The first of many hospital stays)


We thought the brutality of the storm was over and that the skies were set to get clear....

We were wrong. We entered 2016 and Mel completed 18 days of radiation. We were waiting for his numbers to improve and he was to start maintenance drugs. Unfortunately that didn't happen and in April the cancer had returned. It had invaded his kidney and the doctor told us that Mel needed to start a salvage drug right away and his only hope of survival was a bone marrow transplant. From April through June Mel did 4 cycles of this salvage drug, unaware of the serious complications that the drug caused. There were no full matches but his bone marrow doctor told us that one of his siblings, who was half of a match, could be used for the transplant.

Once again we were optimistic. We thought the rain would stop pounding in our life....

We were wrong. Mel started developing bumps on his head and a biopsy showed the salvage drug wasn't working and the cancer had returned so the bone marrow transplant wasn't an option. He was admitted into the hospital and tests revealed the cancer had spread to his spine, bone marrow and was scattered throughout his body. The doctor told us there was a 50 percent chance that after 3 cycles the cancer may go into remission and we could do the transplant.

 


Yet after only one dose of the chemo tests revealed the cancer was gone. So once again we thought the storm was coming to a close.

We were wrong. Then Mel started losing the ability to walk. And what was supposed to be a 5 day hospital stay in August to do one more cycle chemo before the transplant turned into 6 weeks as my husband lost all ability to use his hands and legs. The salvage drug that he received from April through June caused spinal damage and left my husband paralyzed.  Mel spent 6 weeks in the hospital and saw so many specialists. Finally, the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do. They felt that the damage the spine would only increase and they could not give any more chemotherapy. So they sent my husband home on hospice.



And what was supposed to be a year of maintenance drugs turned into something far more challenging. I would be lying if I said we aren't hurting. And I think at times Christians are afraid of being honest because they are afraid people will tell them they aren't trusting God. My family has been called into a level of trust in God that most people are never called to. My husband has spent hundreds of days in the hospital. He has been hooked up to chemotherapy for 24 hours at a time. His body has been ravaged by both the cancer and the effects of the drugs used to treat the cancer.  He can no longer walk. He can't move his fingers. He needs assistance for absolutely everything.



And what hurts him even more is that he can't hold his children. He can't get on the floor and play with them. He can't go outside and kick a soccer ball with them. He can't take them to the zoo. So it hurts. Our life completely changed on December 30, 2014 when the doctors told us he had cancer. And it hurts. We aren't spending our Saturdays at soccer games. We aren't taking road trips. We aren't going out to eat as a family in the evening. We cry. We have questions. We feel numb at times. Our heart has been shattered. We are in pain.

And it is during these times when the words we sing in church become more than just words. And it is during these times when we are faced with the question or whether we are going to live out what we have preached for years when life was going good or whether we are going to walk away from God because the storm has ravaged our life?



When my husband was told he had cancer on December 30, 2014...

When he started his first cycle of chemo in March of 2015...

When he spent two weeks of every month in the hosptial during 2015 ....

When we were reduced to one income ...

When my children cried because they missed their dad ...

When Mel was unable to finish school ...

When the cancer returned in April of 2016 ....

When the salvage drug wasn't working ....

When he entered the hospital for the 15th time in August of 2016 ...

When what was supposed to be a 5 day hospital stay turned into a 6 week stay ...

When he lost the ability to move his legs and arms ....

When the doctors said there was nothing else to do ....

Those things devastated us. Those things shook us. Those things caused us to cry at night. Those things hurt us. Those things changed us. Those things have left us broken at times.

But those things did  not destroy the faith we have in God. Those things did not cause us to stop praising and worshiping Him. Those things did not make us turn our back on God. We can't just talk about God being in control when things are going our way. When the storm clouds hover over us and the rain pounds relentlessly God is still in control.

While we may not understand why, we trust that God is in control.
While we may be hurting, we know that God gives us peace.
While we may be filled with sorrow, we know that God gives us comfort.
While we may have questions, we know that God hears and still speaks.

We will continue to praise God.
We will continue to live for God.
We will continue to walk in the path.
We will continue to worship God

And we will continue to believe that as long as this storm hovers over our life, God will give us exactly what we need to make it through.


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