About 12:15, as I was on my way home from work, my cell phone rang. I'll never forget that moment. I was getting on the interstate from Hickman, and I was trying to merge into the noon-traffic when I heard the words, "Kelli, I'm so sorry. It's cancer." The world started spinning, but somehow I made it home, and I remember my hands were shaking as I was trying to write down the name of the surgeon I was supposed to meet with.
I remember trying to tell a few people that first day, and it was so overwhelming just to say the words, "I have cancer," much less try to explain anything else.
So many things raced through my mind. I had no idea what stage I was at that point - whether I would die in a few weeks, or have a chance to live life after cancer. I was pretty sure I wouldn't like being bald (I was right!), and I wondered how bad chemo would be.
Wandering through the maze of treatment options and diagnosis became a time to cry out to God in a whole new way. I began the process already feeling emotionally drained from all the infertility treatments we'd gone through. I honestly felt like I didn't have any energy left to deal with cancer.
But the amazing thing about God is that He meets you wherever you are. It is our choice to simply trust him - and He is faithful, even when we have nothing left. He comes through; he shows up, every time. During those long days, and even longer nights, He was my comfort and my strength; my shelter in a horrible storm.
I won't say that I didn't spend time wondering "why?" or wishing I understood how cancer was the best thing for my life. But there are two absolutes that I know about God: He is always sovereign, and he is always good. And I know that he has used cancer in my life to refine me, and draw me closer to Himself. Dave and I grew closer, and I treasure the relationships in my life so much more.
I'd been reading Psalm 34 for awhile, and I clung to those verses that day - those words carried promise, and hope:
1 I will extol the LORD at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the LORD;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the LORD with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the LORD, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Breast cancer was the hardest thing I've ever been through, but now, it's a year since the date of my diagnosis. That's such a big milestone! And I feel so privileged to be able to celebrate it. God never promises good health - but I'm so grateful that He has given that to me.
Exactly one year ago today, I said here that I was going to "take the challenge" from Psalms 34. I was going to take refuge in the Lord, and see that He is good. I have spent the past 365 days seeking refuge in the Lord, and with every fiber of my cancer-free being, I can promise you this: I have tasted, I have seen, that He is really, truly good.