"He told me I would be fine. I needed to believe that"
Monday, March 13, 2012 was the first day of my vacation! I had a week full of wonderful and fun plans, I only needed to get a doctor's appointment out of the way. I wasn't too concerned about my appointment because this was a routine follow up that I had every six months since my surgery in 2009. My doctor and his nurse came in the room and after a little small talk, he explains the results of my last scans. "I'm sorry, but you have cancer." I was certain I didn't hear him correctly. I asked did he see something that they would need to do further testing to see if it was cancer. I surely did not have cancer in my body! He went on to explain that my scans were now showing tumors on my liver, lungs and bones....stage IV cancer!! Pheochromocytoma Cancer, a very rare adrenal cancer that I knew very little about, could barely pronounce or spell, was trying to take over my body. I don't know how many TV commercials I have watched or stories I have been told about cancer, but this was unbelievable and after a few minutes of discussion, it finally hit me. I have cancer and then I briefly lost control, I couldn't stop crying. Both my doctor and nurse were very compassionate and helpful in calming me down.
I was alone at the appointment, so they asked if they should call for someone to come get me. I said, "No, I will be okay." I made a couple of calls to try and reach my pastor, associate pastor or my elder from my church, all were unavailable. I needed to talk to one of them because my mind was on the scripture that says, "If any among you are sick, let him call for the elders." (James 5:14). After sitting in the office a while, my pastor called me and had a very calming and reassuring conversation with me. He told me I would be fine! I needed to believe that. I didn't see cancer coming at all, but my spirit was trying to speak louder than what my natural ears heard. I finally got myself together. The normal twenty minute drive home seemed to take forever with all my thoughts and tears. I called my sons and a few others to come over and told them the news later that evening.
"I had no idea what the future held, but I knew I held my future."
Let me introduce myself... at the time of my diagnosis, I was a forty-eight year old single mother of adult sons, hard worker, employed at two different companies and a faithful, active member of my church. Most importantly, I am a Christian, a child of the Most High who has crowned me with favor.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
My FAITH was now being placed on display! My relationship with people had always been important to me, but now it was my intimate, personal relationship with the God I serve that I would need to grab on to so tight as I took this cancer journey. I had no idea what the future held, but I knew who held my future. This faith and trust that I had sang and read about, help me Lord to live and walk in it.
I would have to stand on the promises of the Lord, taking him at His word. This was a rare cancer and my doctors had made me feel that we would, "figure things out as we go." "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
I was determined and dedicated to living and I believed that all things were possible because, "Nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37) I took a day to pull myself together and went on with some fun, relaxing and much needed vacation plans. My goddaughter and I took a trip to Illinois for a couple days and had a good time, making little talk about cancer.
"My journey began with a wonderful blessing, the birth of my first grandson..."
I felt like I could do this, I could fight and I could win. No matter how bad it seemed, I would not give up. I was equipped with everything I needed, Lots of family and friends for support (so I thought), and I had my Faith!! "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6)
As one of my friends put it, "It's not a permanent situation." It's temporary training and preparation for where He has destined me to be. So, one day at a time. He will give me beauty for ashes!
It's amazing how fast things can change in your life!! Living with cancer has profoundly changed my life, in many ways. I never would have thought I would end up or find myself here, but the God that knew me before I was birthed from my mother's womb knew. The emotional effect that came with the diagnosis has and will impact the rest of my life. Surgery was not an option because of the number of tumors throughout my body. My doctors started working on treatment plans; chemotherapy, chemoembolization and radiation. My journey began with a wonderful blessing, the gift of my first grandson came to me when I started my first chemo treatment. DeMiko is my lifeline! What a wonderful distraction to this cancer madness, something or somebody else to fight with and I was so grateful for this new addition. I've had innumerable treatments over the past months and years. Some good and not so good, but I realize that I am nothing but a miracle and God's grace is keeping me here.
I was surprised and very hurt by the way some things changed in my life. My circle of family and friends went from lots to a handful. When I wasn't able to nurture and work on my relationships (as I had all my life), they quickly dissolved. The job where I had faithfully worked for more than twenty-five years, terminated me while I was on medical disability leave by a certified letter in the mail. The loss of my relationships, both with people and my job, seemed to hurt worse or as bad as receiving my cancer diagnosis. Oh, but GOD!!! He told me to do something and reward me all in one verse, Deuteronomy 31:6. "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
My son insisted I connect with the social media world to help with my journey. He helped me with Facebook, Instagram and a GoFundMe Account. I've met so many wonderful people on this journey. Although I don't communicate or socialize much with many of the people I did before my diagnosis, I am so blessed with the people God has brought me with now, at such a time. People that this diagnosis has brought us together who are God fearing and caring people! What a mighty and sovereign God I serve! He knows what I need. He made it clear to me to get ready, things were getting ready to change in my life, and they did.
I met a beautiful lady via Instagram a few months ago, she lives in Louisiana. I've never met her face to face, only written correspondence and phone conversations. Kristianne is a beautiful God fearing, warm spirited, loving, caring and compassionate woman of God. She describes me as BOLD, BRAVE and BEAUTIFUL. Kristianne is the founder of a wonderful organization or ministry named, Compassion That Compels. This is an international ministry and non-profit with a simple mission to reach every woman battling cancer with beautiful Compassion Bags, and remind them they are never alone.
Caring and generous people donate to bless BEAUTIFUL and brave women with Compassion Bags. As of today, over 2000 Compassion Bags have blessed women, and in July, I was so happy and surprised to be the 1534 recipient! Two months later, my godmother who is also battling cancer, received a Compassion Bag. I thank God for Kristianne and those who minister with her through Compassion That Compels.
My story goes on because my journey continues. Tumors continue to form and grow all over my body. I will not give up because I am an OVERCOMER! My friends, I close this chapter for now with this:
I'm grateful for the things God and people have done, grateful for victories we've won. Flowing from my heart are the issues of my heart, and that is gratefulness! Thank you for allowing me to share my story. May God be glorified and someone be encouraged.
Patricia Trish White