On a oddly cold March morning with rain falling, my sister and I loaded up in my Hyundai Santa Fe and began the trek to Baylor in downtown Dallas. Pulling into the Baylor parking garage we were blasting the Zach Williams song “Survivor.”
We arrived in time for her 9:15am appointment that she has before every chemo treatment. This was the second of four treatments she would undergo. It was a long day. We probably sat in waiting rooms for a total of 3-4 hours. While waiting for her to see a specialist, she saw something posted online from friends who were in deep need of prayer and immediately prayed for them. On a day that no one would fault her for being selfish, she was thinking of and praying for others. Not for herself. She was concerned with the needs of others in the midst of her own pain.
The chemo treatment began around 2:00pm. The setup was a long open room with four or more areas. Each area had eight chairs (four on each side facing one another) which had a weird similarity to a row of pedicure chairs. Each area was divided by a half wall so you could see all the people who were getting treatment. Staring down a long room of people all receiving treatment, we learned the ways of communal chemo. The people next to us clearly had more experience as they shared their tips and discouraged me from using the nurses’s rolling chair as a side table.
The patients were so diverse, from all different demographics, lifestyles, and life stages. Cancer is clearly impartial.
Survivor in Battle
My sister was barely 34-years-old when she received a cancer diagnosis this past December. The year of 2017 has been and will continue to be a year that we will all remember with strong feelings. Based on the type of cancer and her genetic makeup (BRCA mutation) the year is difficult but not hopeless. We have a very clear idea of how this year will go, it is simply walking through it and watching my sister walk through it that is agonizing.
Watching my big sister – a lifelong hero to me, wife to an incredibly hard-working and optimistic man, mom to three of the sweetest girls you’ve ever met – be in the weakest state she’s ever been, and persevere with hope and strength is hard to describe. She is a strong person by nature, a rock for so many people, but this strength is different.
There is a picture that is on repeat in my mind from that cold March day. That evening after chemotherapy she was exhausted and curled up in her bed. She invited her middle child in with her to give her one-on-one time with mom. Walking in to say goodbye before I returned to my home, I saw her there. Fragile. Exhausted. Weak. Expending the little energy she had on her 4-year-old.
That weakness. That selflessness. THAT is true strength.
Weak in Battle
In the song we listened to the morning we pulled into the parking garage, “Survivor,” the bridge proclaims, “You’re My God, You’re My Fighter, You Make Me a Survivor.” That song is an anthem, not for battling cancer but for reminding us that our momentary pains and struggles do not compare to the eternal battle that Christ fought and won on our behalf.
That picture of her, in her bed expending her energy on others, as if her bones, weak as they were, were crying out, “You’re my God. You’re my fighter.” My sister is living Exodus 14:14 which says, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Recognizing our pain. Choosing to be still when we can’t fight anymore. Acknowledging and accepting weakness. These are beautiful. These are the moments that Jesus shines through.