Last Thursday, Aaron had his post-chemo PET-Scan. The purpose was to scrutinize his body in order to spot any cancer that may still be lingering after treatment.
The next day, Sara, Aaron and I drove over to the Cancer Center at Kootenai Health to hear the results.
All of us were nervous. After 3 months of brutal chemo, the only thing we wanted to hear was that Aaron was in remission. We wanted to be hopeful and positive, but perhaps as a way of cushioning any blows, we kept our feet on the ground.
Thankfully, we got to hear the world “remission.” There were no cancer markers picked up by the scan! (The only side-effect of chemo was that Aaron’s lungs are a bit inflamed.)
As the news sunk in, I found myself processing a few emotional responses to the good news as the day went by.
I was first struck with relief. Since March 8, we’ve all carried a burden. Aaron had to carry the biggest load by far, but with all the side-effects, Sara and I found ourselves as his full-time caretakers, trying to figure out how to solve his numerous wild and crazy responses to chemo. Truly, a weight was lifted off my shoulders. Sometimes you don’t realize how much stress you are carrying until it the burden is removed.
As we walked out of the Cancer Center, my eyes filled up with tears. Mainly on behalf of Aaron. This was his “win.” He had the most to lose, and I felt so happy for him that his treatment was effective. Throughout his treatment, I felt the need to be strong rock for him. But with his favorable report in hand, I felt the freedom to release some unfiltered empathy. Before we got to the car, I gave him a big hug, full of thanks for his unique, precious life.
As they day went on, I felt more and more joy well up in my spirit. Over the past 4 months, joy has been in short supply. Its as if I haven’t had permission to be happy, due to Aaron’s dire situation. Cancer has a way of making one very sober about life and death.
Finally, I processed emotions of humility. Life is fragile and we have no guarantees of how long it will last. For all our bluster and bravado, we humans are like dust. The Bible reminds us of our feeble frame when it says:
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business, and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. – James 4:14 CSB
We’re all so vulnerable. In the scope of the universe, we’re mere specks. We may feel invincible at times (particularly in our youth), but the reality is we are frail and fragile.
I think my feelings of being humbled by this whole “Aaron has cancer” experience were an internal form of worship. Rather than raise my fist in the air and give out a victory cry, I felt more like bowing my head in awe and wonder to the creator of everything. Such feelings made me think of the doxology written by Paul in Romans 11:33-36:
Oh, the depth of the riches
and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
And who has ever given to God,
that he should be repaid?
For from him and through him
and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever. Amen.
As the days and weeks go by, I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts and feel more feelings. But this is how I felt on July 2, 2021. The day Aaron was told his cancer was in remission.