She looked at the Bev Doolittle print above her bed in the darkened exam room of the doctor’s office. “The Forest Has Eyes”. What a strange picture to hang above an ultrasound table in a women’s care facility. She lay there, listening to the beep of the machine, counting the Native faces in the print. Thirteen. Not her favorite or lucky number. Not her day. Not her month. And it didn’t feel like her life. This appointment made the fourth in a row this last month. Measurements. Labs. Bloodwork. And biopsies. And consults. And surgeries she wasn’t planning on having. Here she was in a paper hospital gown waiting on a doctor to tell her the next move. To dictate a path. To rein her in a direction she didn’t want to go, but must.
She lay there thinking about her life. Her hand went to her left breast where they biopsied. She’d already known about elevated CA125 levels and the pain that brought her to the doctor for a visit, but she wasn’t really prepared for a double whammy. The possibility of both ovarian and breast cancer. Nothing was confirmed yet, and perhaps that was truly the hardest part; the what ifs and maybes and unknowns. She clung to the positives in the doctor’s words: “early stage”, “if”, “there’s a chance it’s something else” and pushed out the words cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation.
She thought it ironic that it had taken her all 43 years of her life to learn to suddenly appreciate her imperfect body, and the depth of that emotion was unfathomable. This body that had been sexually abused as a child. The body that was teased and made fun of as an adolescent by young men and some girls. The body that endured hitting the ground off of cold backed horses on an even colder morning. The body that bore her two children. The body she unwillingly and willingly had given to men. The body that had seen weight gain and loss and stretch marks and bruises and breaks- that body was now possibly facing disease. And now she was willing to accept it?
She pinched back tears. Why had it taken this moment to see she was more than this earthly body encasing her soul and her light? She was more than sex, more than babies, more than breasts and more than a preconceived notion she, or anyone else had of her, in a less than perfect picture. She sat up, hugging her knees and folding her head. She leaned into the tiny mustard seed of faith planted that morning in her heart via a passage she’d read in her Bible. She repeated it over and over and over… “ She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25.
So I will… I will laugh without fear of the future. Because I serve a big God. But if it’s a path I must walk, I will do so with grace and grit, strength and love, regardless of a diagnosis. I’ve warred with sharing something so personal here, but I hope that I am used as an example to others that may struggle with self love and worth, the ones with hard stories to tell, the ones watching from behind a corner wondering if they’re alone. I don’t want pity or sympathy or attention. More so, what I want is that we learn we’re worth so much more than a shallow society’s thought. Be clothed in strength and dignity, and be a vessel of good.
I’ve said it before… one roll of the dice. That’s what we get. So when it’s your turn, ride the horses, watch the sunsets, love your family, forgive the wrong, and be what the man upstairs put you on this earth to be; a fearless, faithful and flawed human of His work.