The cyst on her shoulder had been there for years. The pain, however, was new.MacGyveringMom
As the mom of three, who blogs at MacGyvering My Way Through Motherhood, shared on Facebook and Instagram, it started about two months ago when she went to the dermatologist to have a cyst removed. Though it had been there for years, after her twins were born, she noticed that it had changed color and started to grow.
Still, the busy mom thought the changes to her shoulder were probably caused by the bumps and bruises that came with caring for three children under the age of 4. She wrote:
Most likely from it being traumatized by the twins unknowingly smashing it, and from my four year old jumping on me like the Incredible Hulk, and bumping into it.
It wasn’t actually until it started hurting that I finally decided to go and get it checked out.
Her dermatologist agreed that there didn’t appear to be anything abnormal about the cyst and removed it. Other than being relieved that her shoulder didn’t hurt anymore, she didn’t give it another thought — until a Friday three weeks later, when she noticed a flurry of messages and missed calls on her cellphone.
When she checked her voicemail, her world started to come undone. There was a message from a doctor with “important news” about her shoulder.
She spoke to the doctor, who explained that the tissue they’d removed from her shoulder wasn’t a cyst, but a “questionable” mass of cells that the pathologists hadn’t been able to identify. She wrote:
I didn’t know how to respond, other than to nervously blurt out “Is it cancer?” tears welling up in my eyes, my mind trying the process the words I’d just uttered.
The doctor told the worried mom they weren’t sure it was cancer, but it seemed likely. Unable to quiet her emotions (and kids) enough to focus on the doctor’s discussion of next steps, she apologized and asked the doctor to talk to her husband. Then she hung up the phone and cried.
That’s when her 4-year-old son walked in to see his mother sobbing. She wrote:
At that moment my 4 year old walked into the upstairs guest room where I’d snuck away to make the call, and looking concerned said “Mommy, why are you crying??” then hugging my leg he whispered “Mommy, don’t be sad, please don’t be sad.”
Realizing that her son had never seen her fall apart before, she tried to comfort him. And ended up feeling comforted herself:
I sat down on the bed, pulled him up into my lap, and squeezed him until my arms started to hurt. My sobs suddenly comforted by the sweet smell of his sweaty little boy head. I brushed the hair from his face, wiped the tears from my eyes, and looked at him and said “Mommy’s going to be fine. The Dr. gave me some slightly scary news today, but I’m going to be ok buddy. God and I have got this, okay?”
In that moment, she realized she had a choice to make about facing the future. She wrote:
I had to pick one of the two roads that lied in front of me, and it had to be right then. I have three little boys that need me, and a husband who loves me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to become a victim of circumstance.
One the one hand, she could take what she thought of as the “more conventional” route, and give in to fear, doubt, panic, worry, and self-pity. This route, she wrote, is easier because it’s obvious and takes no effort. No one would blame her for it.MacGyveringMom
But there was a second route available, and that is the one she ultimately decided to follow. Though it’s the path to hope, love, joy, grace, and peace, it is also more difficult because of what it demands from you. She wrote:
It requires a little thing called faith.
And faith is best defined as the substance of things hoped for, and the EVIDENCE of things NOT seen. Things not yet visible, as they lie in the spiritual realm.
Which is why faith is usually accompanied by God, as it typically takes a higher power to guide you along this type of path. And as it turns out, this path speaks to me, because I like to think of God as my right hand man.
My bff. My co-pilot.
Though she was aware that some might say she sounds like a, “spiritual nutcase,” she was sure that this was the time to trust in a higher power:
I let my husband know about my weird path choosing experience before we went in to meet with the oncologist, and told him that no matter what was said, that I was choosing to see ONLY the best outcome, from that point forward. To see the end from the beginning.
That whatever we have to go through is only something that is going to make us stronger once we’ve reached the other side.
It may sound as though it only took seconds to make that choice, but she told Dearly that the only thing that went quickly was seeing the two paths. The decision was really the result of two days of wrestling between to conflicting impulses:
“At first it was as though there was a relentless war going on in my mind, and every minute felt like a unsettling duel between fear versus faith. Doubt versus hope. Worry versus peace.
It was like a million undetermined images of my life, and my children, and my marriage had been captured and were somehow being flashed before me in a perpetual and disconcerting stream of consciousness.”
What turned the tide was a “heart to heart with God,” where she found the strength and faith to choose the second path. From that point, she would remember her faith when she felt the fear return. She told Dearly:
“It was over the 48 hours that followed, that my faith was released and I gradually began to not be affected by all the fear, worry, doubt, self pity, etc. that were constantly trying to bombard my mind and emotions.
I began to feel an unspeakable peace come over me, and it was nothing short of miraculous.”
She was able to face the avalanche of challenges ahead of her. First, there was a battery of tests to discover where the questionable tissue came from. She also needed aggressive treatment and surgery to remove the tumor from her shoulder. But through it all, she kept her faith and her belief that she’d chosen the right path.MacGyering Mom
When the tests came back and confirmed that there was no cancer in any other organ, she gave thanks and hoped she would have kept to her path, no matter what the prognosis. And her new outlook continues to give her strength as she goes through cancer treatment. She wrote:
We were never promised that life would be easy. And the fact is, life’s struggles are often opportunities where we can learn and grow the most.
It is often in these times where we find out what we are truly made of.
I refuse to let my boys see me take the easy way out, and give in to worry, doubt, and fear. I am literally living the other option, as you read this.
Last week, she had surgery to remove the tumor, and this week, the plastic surgeon removed the tape and tubes from her back. She told Dearly that her faith hasn’t wavered, even while she waits for the pathologist to let them know if the lymph nodes removed last week were cancerous.
She even jokes about the “gnarly” scar now gracing her shoulder and back, saying she’s already half-prepared for Halloween.
Despite what she’s going through, she finds herself laughing, playing with her children, and enjoying her life. She wants people to understand that no matter what they’re going through, how they choose to react can make a huge difference. She told Dearly:
“At the end of the day, I still choose to see this as a mere ‘bump’ in the road. Even without knowing what my near future holds, I know that am free to go about and enjoy my life, despite my circumstances. He has shown me the end from the beginning, and when you know that the end turns out to be good, it’s impossible to be afraid of the journey.”
“In a way, you might even say that it becomes an inexplicable and miraculous adventure.”