“I’m at peace,” she said simply as her doelike brown eyes gazed into mine. “On Sunday night this peace just came over me and settled in and it hasn’t left yet. It is incredible,” she continued. “It is so beautiful, I can’t describe it. I never thought I could feel this way!” (Lynn Eib, author of "When God & Cancer Meet", pg 54).
I was thinking about the phone call on November 5th, 2013 from my primary care doctor informing me that I had cancer. Immediately, I tried to maintain a calm demeanor and think about how a Marine would conduct himself at this moment.
“I’m very sorry Alex to have to give you this news,” my doctor calmly said.
I remained silent.
Quite frankly, I didn’t actually know how to respond back to him. I had no experience with this type of news. In a culture like ours that uses a plethora of clichés and empty platitudes, there was not one that seemed appropriate: "Doc, no worries, everything happens for a reason"..."It is what it is"...or my least favorite..."You’re going to be fine."
To hear that you have cancer is a gut-kick from an unknown force.
I felt numb.
I was suffocating...like during my boyhood years when a bunch of kids would pile up on each other. And when you’re the one on the very bottom the fun quickly dissipates and you feel the weight of your school chums. “Okay guys, that’s enough, get off me!”, I would yell. Apparently, they didn’t hear me. I would say again in a screeching tone, “GET OFF ME NOW!”
You can’t move.
Breathing is difficult.
You do not have enough strength to get yourself out of this mess.
“I am very sorry Alex to have to give you this news.”
This was my form of adult pile-up, and I am at the bottom again.
After receiving the news on Nov. 5th, the next three days were terrifying.
“Okay,” I thought. “I have cancer. Now what!?”
Fortunately, I was able to see an oncologist that very same day I'd received the news. He informed me that I had to go through various medical tests to determine how bad the cancer was.
“We need to determine if the cancer is local or if it has metastasized,” he said to me.
The next three days were a blur. Both my wife and I felt the emotional pain together. In fact, Teresa and I lost about five pounds each from stress alone.
Unexpected Peaceful Feeling...
Friday morning, November 8th...the day I would receive the final diagnosis of how bad the cancer was. If the cancer was metastatic and at a Stage IV, most patients - approximately 95 percent - die within the first year.
However, instead of feeling anxious or scared...or frankly both, I felt His presence. The same feeling that Eib wrote about in her book, "When God & Cancer Meet".
“I’m at peace,” she said simply as her doelike brown eyes gazed into mine.“On Sunday night this peace just came over me and settled in and it hasn’t left yet. It is incredible,” she continued. “It is so beautiful, I can’t describe it. I never thought I could feel this way!” (Eib 54).
The above quote aptly describes my similar experience on Friday morning, just three days after finding out that I had cancer. While in the shower I started praying to God, “I will accept whatever you give me as your will. Please give me your strength and wisdom to walk through this trial.”
“Peace just came over me and settled in...It [was] incredible...It [was] so beautiful, I can’t describe it. I never thought I could feel this way!”
I knelt down in the shower and began to worship Him with praises and songs. Right then, I knew He was with me. Life or death...He was with me.
I cannot describe that moment...the feelings...the peace. But it was the best spiritual pile-up that I have ever experienced.