"And then Tim found a tumor. We cried. He scheduled an appointment. We screamed. Consulted with a doctor. We shook with fear. He had an ultrasound. We scrambled. He had an MRI. We laid in the fetal position. We scheduled surgery. We doubted it all. ." -Beth
Please share your story:
Not many people meet the love of their life at seventeen. But I did. I fell madly in love with a boy and consequently spent my days and nights praying nothing would happen to him that would take him away. I’m blown away that seventeen years, three continents, and three kids later, I still get gushy when he looks at me and smiles.
I remember first hearing about Tim’s pain as we walked hand in hand in New York as gooey-eyed teenagers. He’d constantly pop his wrists to relieve a creak, or ask me to walk on his back to knead a knot. It wasn’t until living abroad years later that he was able to recognize that the pain was steadily increasing— little by little every day, every week, every year. Upon our return stateside, we vowed to investigate just what was going on in his body.
Doctor after doctor scratched their head and threw their hands up, but not first without experimenting with a dangerous array of drugs or flinging diagnoses left and right. We jumped to catch each one, eager to have a name, then hopefully a cure. Nothing panned out. Even the Mayo Clinic sent us packing us with the recommendation to drink more water. “Try Gatorade, too,” a doctor said.
We gave up.
Meanwhile we were in family planning purgatory. With a four-year-old, a mystery medical condition, and the question of “should we have another?” it feltlike a no-brainer to just call it done and quit while we were ahead. To challenge the societal status quo by having 'just one kid'. Besides, I wasn’t entirely convinced I even wanted to do that whole song and dance again. It was so much work. We ended up agreeing to let God decide, saying, “God, we will give you two months.”
Five minutes later, I was pregnant. With twins. Suffice it to say, this was the darkest season of my life. Until they arrived. From the minute they were born, their existence was God-breathed. They’re simply the greatest tiny humans ever created. It was a sweet, smile-drenched year.
And then Tim found a tumor. We cried. He scheduled an appointment. We screamed. Consulted with a doctor. We shook with fear. He had an ultrasound. We scrambled. He had an MRI. We laid in the fetal position. We scheduled surgery. We doubted it all. He started to recover. We started to unfurl our grip. He got appendicitis. We clung tighter to each other. The hits just kept coming. We scheduled chemo. We moved so we would have extra space for when my mom came to help during chemo treatments. He completed chemo. Back to the fetal position.
I began to understand that my irrational fear of one day losing Tim was actually just a preparation for my heart for when I do lose Tim. It felt inevitable, and yet my clenched jaw, clutched fists, and tender heart were unwilling to accept it. So we hope.
This thing, cancer, is the exact reason I did not want to have another child. The “what if—.” I’m not capable of raising a child on my own, let alone two, now three?! I spent many nights crying in the bathtub, staring at my growing mountain of a belly, screaming “WHY?!.” Yet beneath the fear, there was a glimmer of understanding; still though, I was unwilling to accept that THE plan is better than MY plan.
Looking back at these past few months—this treacherous, scary season—I can’t imagine these babies not being here. The joy they have brought us in this horribly sad, unrelenting season has been remarkable. They have saved me from myself— my fear, my worry, my thoughts—because no amount of worrying is going to change anything or save anyone.
We’re now two weeks post-chemo, one and done. One big round and we’re starting to see normal again, or finding a new normal. His prognosis is near perfect, his side effects slowly subsiding. So we hug tighter, hope louder. I cling to my vision of us 65 years from now, and squeeze his hand harder for when the next hill on the roller coaster comes.
How has your story shaped you into who you are today?
I'm still very much 'in it', but as we claw our way out I've found freedom despite living in my worst nightmare. I've been fortunate to experience a number of dark seasons; almost all of them have taken place in the last four years. Not so coincidentally, the past four years have been marked with the most fulfilling and life-giving relationships I’ve ever had. Being at the end of myself has beautifully allowed the people around me to step in, show up, stand in the gap, and fight for me. My marriage is stronger. My friendships, more genuine. Conversations with new people, richer. My heart is open, my eyes are centered, my hands are receptive. I could not have said that about myself until now.
What compelled you to share your story?
To encourage someone to cherish the trial that they are in.
What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of manykinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." —James:1, 2-4
Let it be known I hated these verses. It's only after your trials that you can see the beauty, the growth, the strength. But in the middle of them, they're ugly, they're raw and they're unwelcome. But it's really only then that you can see your true self. It's really only then that you can see the depths of your faith. It's really easy to praise God when all is peachy, isn't it? It's really easy to have great relationships when everyone is happy and healthy.
Yet what is the sunshine if not for the shade by which we compare it? What is a hill without a valley? They are HARD but necessary.