The trees stand against the sky forming this silouette and the dark sky is melting into colors of grays, pinks, blues. They say rain’s coming today as it has so many times this winter. And there are new beginnings in this day.
She smiles when I walk in the office as I have for thirty plus times. And she tells me I can go on back to my changing room. And I see this closed door straight ahead I have seen so many times–the radiation room. The thickness of the door is ten inches or more wide and the sign flashes “In Use”. And on the door is this gold sign–Caution. High Radiation Area.
Today’s the day–my last of thirty–the last radiation treatment.
She told me this year made 21 years of walking cancer free. And there’s this invisible thread she and I share of being breast cancer survivors. Another friend and her card read, ‘We are sisters in Christ and now we also have a very special bond!’ And so many other women who have shared their stories. All of our walks were very different in many ways, but this thread–it’s more than the sharing of a cruel disease.
The answer on the health checklist changes not only for me, but for my children, my grandchildren, my siblings, my family. Yes, I have had cancer. Yes, someone in my family has had cancer. There is this history now and this thread of family pulls us tighter, closer.
And writer Carolyn Larsen calls this thread, “God’s thread.”
The machine starts the normal buzz and on this morning it seems to last longer and the noise–much louder. And I hold back the tears of thirty plus times here–with treatments and tests. My radiation oncology nurses are waiting as the machine comes to a stop–clapping and they hand me some necessary paperwork and a certificate of completion with my name engraved in ink. And it reads I have ‘completed the prescribed course of radiation therapy with the highest degree of courage, determination and good nature.’
And I am unworthy and it’s not me who deserves any of these accolades–it’s so many others–it’s the woman who waits every morning for her husband to finish radiation treatments so she can drive him to his chemo treatment–fifty miles away. It’s the man who sits in his familiar wheelchair with his cane carefully placed in his lap and humbly allows the nurses to roll him back into the radiation room. It’s the mamas and daddies who reach deep for another day of courage as they count down another chemo treatment for their child. And it’s the doctors and nurses who day after day see people as much more than patients–they see with their hearts and smile every single day when somedays it would be much easier to cry.
And it’s God’s thread that connects us all.
Cancer–it will forever be a part of my story. Will I walk this way again–only God knows. But that is not a worry of today or tomorrow for me. For the power of our thread is strengthened by prayers lifted in faith and love. And I have felt each prayer spoken on my behalf and there are no words to express my heart of gratitude.
And the sliding door–it opens a little wider. Today is a beginning. Not a start-over, a new beginning. There is a difference–a big difference. And God’s mercies are new every morning. And He is bigger, greater than any disease. And He is good.
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. Lamentations 3:22-24 (KJV)