I haven't posted anything here on my blog for almost a month. That's because it's been a very difficult month.
The cancer I have been battling since my diagnosis in February took an unexpected turn we had not ever foreseen. It decided to move to my brain. The terrible headaches I was experiencing for a few weeks, along with the memory issues, were a result of that. They discovered it in an MRI on October 17 (just a couple of days after my last post). I was immediately checked into the hospital and I had brain surgery on the 20th. The amazing neurosurgeon was able to get it all, and thank the Lord, there were no repercussions affecting my speech or my memory (which was my biggest fear).
This year has been the most exhausting road I've ever walked. It started with my mother's unexpected death last December, and it's moved along since then with every exhausting twist and turn you could imagine. My original symptoms and hospital visits in late January. My initial bladder surgery and my late stage/metastasized cancer diagnosis in February. The pain in my bone (where the cancer first moved) for months and months. My radiation and intensive chemo treatments in February, March, and April. Immunotherapy since May, still ongoing every two to three weeks. The neuropathy that began in my hands and feet in June and has gotten worse since. The good news in August that the cancer in the original site was gone, and that it had decreased -- miraculously -- in the bone by 20-30 percent, and that there was even some unexpected new bone growth (and yes, even good news of this magnitude can be exhausting in a different way...there are just so many emotions one goes through on a journey of this kind). The beginning of the headaches and other issues in the fall. The realization that our building was being sold and that we would need to move from the apartments where we've lived for nearly twenty years. A hunt for a house we could rent and move into that we could actually afford. Fundraising my family has done for us, which has blessed us so much. The diagnosis of the brain cancer and the surgery to remove it in October. The beginning of our packing and moving in the past two weeks. The painful national election and its even more painful aftermath so far.
Even typing the list of what I've gone through makes me tired, but I don't think the words can easily convey how hard this all has been.
But words do help me through it. Words from the Scriptures that speak the Lord's heart to me. Words from friends who send love and encouragement. Words I use to process the pain. Words from poetry, songs, and stories that mean so much to me and help me find some order in the midst of disorder. Words from my old journals (which I've been looking through late in the night when I can't sleep) which show me ways in which God was preparing me for this walk, even years ago.
The song that's been making the rounds on social media this week is "Hallelujah" by Leonard Cohen, the poetic song writer who died last Monday at the age of 82. It's a song I've heard before, of course, but I find myself listening to it with new ears. Today I just spent some time crying my way through it, especially the final verse:
"I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool ya
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"
I think what gets me about this stanza is the idea that even when it seems as though everything has gone wrong, when we are spent and broken and exhausted, we can still stand before the Lord of Song (what a wonderful name for God) and offer praise. That's what I hope to do...today, tomorrow, for the rest of my life, however long it may be, and for eternity.
I have scans again tomorrow, on the original areas of the cancer (bladder and bone). These will be the first ones since August. It's been nine months since my diagnosis. Nine months feels significant to me, maybe because I'm a mama who remembers carrying my daughter for nine months as she was knit together. I am praying for signs of healing tomorrow, healing and new life. But no matter what the scans reveal, even if they all go wrong, "I'll stand before the Lord of Song/With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."