Here is a quick summary of events which began five weeks ago:
January 16, 2012
I arrive at the Women’s Center of the Southeast Alabama Medical Center at 8:00am. The staff are extremely kind, compassionate, and helpful as always. I receive a core-needle biopsy to the right breast. Two mammograms received the previous week suggest a “suspicious area”. There are no thoughts in my mind of cancer as I have a history of cysts. One was surgically removed; several others were drained by fine needle aspiration. Although I had never had a biopsy, it still remained in the “just routine” category of my thinking.
That night I go to bed and reach for my Bible. I like to read through a book at a time, had just finished one particular book, and was ready to begin another. First Peter came strongly to mind. I’ve read First and Second Peter many times in my life but as I turned to the book I was giving no thought as to what Peter was about. I began with verse one. When I read verse six, it felt as if it had been written there, all those years ago, just for me, just for now. “So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for awhile.” (NLT) I could feel my heart beating hard as I read the words again and then continued with verse seven. “These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold – and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold…” (NLT) It was at that precise moment, with heart pounding, and an overwhelming sense of God’s presence, I thought to myself, “I’ve got cancer.” The second thought, “It’s okay.” The third thought was an awareness of Father speaking right into my heart the words, “This is an opportunity to seize; not a curse to endure.” At this point I was aware of my mouth. It was turned into a smile. It wouldn’t go away. There was too much inexpressible and unexplainable joy, a quiet and peaceful joy, filling me up. I talked with Father for awhile telling Him He has never given me a reason not to trust Him and I wouldn’t start now. I remember thanking Him for trusting me with this opportunity. I immediately began to think of all the people I might now meet who wouldn’t otherwise cross my path. Then I closed my eyes and slept deeply and peacefully.
January 18, 2012
The hospital phones with the biopsy results. Of course I’m not surprised as God Himself has already told me it’s cancer. Therefore, the news for me is not difficult to hear but when I hang up the phone, I pray for help as I go to tell the news to my parents. For me, this was the worst part of it all. They’ve just come through so much in previous weeks. My Dad’s two heart surgeries, my Mom’s fall resulting in splints on both arms while having the most horrible cold at the same time. Dad is still recovering. I see Mom is so tired and I have to give them this news on top of it all.
I walk into the room where they are waiting. “Mom and Dad, I’m so sorry to have to tell you this,” I begin. “You’ve been through so much.” I pause and add, “I’m sorry. It’s cancer.” I remember my Mom saying, “Oh no,” and covering her mouth with her hands as she stands to come and hug me. Dad stands too and I see two single tears trickle down each cheek. Seeing them makes me cry too and I feel their love and hurt and grief as the three of us hug in a triangle. Then Dad begins to pray and a calm settles. After a while we step back and we all know we will get through this. How could we not? God Himself is in the midst.
January 27, 2012
I arrive in England. I’ve had a permanent residency in the UK for 13 years which wonderfully allows me the blessing of free medical care under the UK National Health System. I have tried in past years to get medical insurance in the USA. On each occasion my application was denied as the insurance companies considered I worked in a high-risk area of Central Asia. Therefore, medical coverage was denied, but as we see, God had plans fo my care.
February 9, 2012
I have my first appointment with the surgeon. He studies my radiographs and path lab reports from the US. He performs an additional ultrasound which reveals multiple cycts in both breasts. He informs me his team will meet, discuss the week’s cases, of which I am one, and will see me the following week to discuss a plan together.
February 17, 2012
The surgeon and I have agreed upon a plan and I am completely peaceful and calm throughout. On March 13th I am schedulded for a double mastectomy. The surgeon, his two nurses, and I are even laughing together over various things and I get to tell them some Kyrgyzstan stories. All is peaceful and even joyful. As I leave the hospital I am so exhilirated, I can’t even go straight home so I drive along the seafront. Father’s words repeat over and over, “This is an opportunity to seize; not a curse to endure.” My imagination grows in anticipation of how Father is going to use this. I find myself telling Him I so want to be able to encourage others in their own “fiery trials” that life brings to us all. Life is not always easy…but it never has to be absolutely bad. I have watched Father in so many people’s lives, going through hard times, especially over the years in Central Asia, and I have watched God Himself be courage and peace and joy and strength in the most difficult of circumstances. Watching people in Central Asia stand strong in their own faith has always been such a tremendous encouaragement to me in my own walk with God. Now I find myself in a situation unexpected, and, of course, never desired….but there nonetheless and so far…..this uninvited journey is proving to be one filled with calm and surprising joy in the presence of a storm.
I had one of those radioactive dye injections in my neck. Much fun, especially on the moving table. I did hurt more than they said, sort of like going to the dentist and having him say “You’re going to feel a little pressure” which is dentist speak for, “This is going to hurt like the dickens!”.
I didn’t realize you were a fan of the Monkees. Me too. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, with so much going on for you, but Davy passed away, here in Florida on 2/29, of a heart attack. He was just 66. I remember when I thought 66 was old. Now I’m thinking, “He died so young!”
We are continuing to pray for you and we know you are in the Father’s hands, and He is in full control of the situation. It’s amazing to think that before you were born, He had already prepared for this event in your life.
I love you, my dearest Vickie!
You are always in my heart. I pray for you… God bless you!
I just dropped in to say I Love You!!!!
Dear Vickie, I wish I could find proper words to express how I love you and admire your great personality. You are one of the best masterpieces created by our Heavenly Father. Thank you for such a brilliant example of love and faith. How could you think and pray for other women while getting prepared for the surgery? Praise the Lord for such people like you. I am so proud and happy that I know you and that I have spend so much time with you learning how to be a true daughter of God. Vickie, once you told me about Jesus, now you showed me how to be strong in faith even on a very rainy day.
Get well brave Vickie. (You were not so brave at the roller coaster). Do you remember what you were saying at that moment? ………. .
Hug you, love you, and always praying for you and your wonderful parents.
Thank you, dear Vickie, for your account of your sensitive and faith-filled operation day. Wonderful to see the outworking of — “If I go to …or …. or …. even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me…” Thank you for letting him prove it!
We continue to pray for steady healing and the need for minimal intervention; and for that beautiful working of his Spirit within you which we are so familiar with. And we stand alongside you at this prayer-phase of your mission of love to those you’ll be drawn close to through this whole experience.
You delight us with your peace and joy — even humour; but we don’t forget there IS some suffering involved, which we also bring to Father.
J & M
With nearly three weeks gone since your surgery, you might be hearing soon about the start of radiotherapy(?). So glad there’s no need for chemo. Just to say that just because there’s “communication-silence” in either direction, we know there are still important things happening and we pray daily. Looking forward to news of dates etc in due time. J & M
Vickie, I am so glad God opened the door for you to come and see your parents. I rejoice with you and your family!
Dear Vickie, Chuck, and Pat, I will never stop admiring your wonderful family. I am so glad that our Heavenly Father is giving you so much strength, peace, and joy. I understand that you are going through a difficult time in your lives now, but how blessed you are to have this faith and such a Strong Spirit. Vickie, dear, when I was reading about what happened, I couldn’t think about anybody else who could be laughing sitting on the bathroom floor while waiting for help. Of course it’s you and your dad! Lots of blessings to you.
Love you and miss you!
Vickie, I am so glad you have finished your radiation. You will continue to be in my prayers. You are such a special person. You will never know how you have touched my life.
Dear Vickie, what a great pleasure reading all your stories, they are so heart warming and giving hope. Thank you so much. You should write more and more. Every time I read one I picture you, your dad, your mom and even your house, even though I’ve never been there. I couldn’t stop laughing while reading the one about you having glued your fingers together. If somebody told me this story and asked me to guess who was the main character, I would definitely say you, dear Vickie. I am amazed who you can be so wise, so strong, so loving, and so funny at the same time. Thank you. will wait for more lovely stories from you.
PS. I wish you publish your stories sometime so that a lot of people could enjoy your life experience and the truth of how wonderful our Heavenly Father is. Love you.
Thank you Larisa for the encouragement. I appreciate it so much. Love you….
Thank you Vickie. Love you too. I am so blessed to have such friends as you and Irinie. I am not even sure if I really deserve it. I am so upset that we all are in different parts of the world. I think that this happened to us so that we could value and hold what we have. Hope we gather together one day. I cannot imagine how much time we will need to share our life turns.
Remember that the disciples went out in different directions to spread the Gospel around the world. Vickie gave you and Irini the Good News and now you are sharing it with others around the world, as am I. And the disciples didn’t even have email! Some day we will all meet together at the feet of Jesus. Won’t that be glorious!! Until then, we will be busy sharing the Good News with those we meet so there will be more of us in the Kingdom. It was a privilege for me to meet you so long ago and yet still be able to communicate via Vickie’s ‘epistles’. I am praying for you.
What a lovely reminder, Chris. Thanks for that for all of us who miss each other but have that joyful assurance that, YES!, one day we will indeed meet again.