I had that bump for-ev-er. I had it for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t that BIG…but it had always been with me. In fact, it became a kind of “party favor” – a way to shock people at gatherings. Our worship pastor in Broken Arrow was especially fun to tease with it – he could hardly stand to look at it.
I had been to several doctors who passed my bump off as “fatty tissue” or “calcium deposits”. So I didn’t think anything of my bump.
Until it grew to the size of a golf ball in less than a year’s time.
When it started to impede my ability to buy cute shoes and boots, it was time. Fatty tissue or no fatty tissue, it was time to be rid of my party favor. But, as all women do, I put it off. I had better more important things to do.
And then it started to tingle. Hurt when I walked. Annoy me.
So I made an appointment with a foot and ankle specialist. I really wasn’t too worried. After all, my whole life doctors had just brushed it off. No big deal. But just to be on the safe side, Brady hung out with me at the doctor’s appointment. I actually think he came just as insurance that the ugly thing (which I never named, sadly) would be removed from my ankle. I don’t think he liked it bumping up against his foot at night.
We were hardly prepared for the doctor to request an MRI. We were not prepared AT ALL for the MRI to come back with those fated words – the one I had heard about my dad ten years previous.
That’s code for cancer.
I remember walking out of the doctor’s office in this weird daze. First of all, that I had ankle cancer, which seemed really crazy. Second, that once again, our family was faced with the reality of this unfriendly disease.
I don’t often have a great memory, but I remember that day. The sidewalk, the sunshine, the seeming oblivious world that didn’t notice – or seem to care – I was in the middle of a crisis.
Surgery was scheduled quickly – the doctor wanted to get that thing out and head toward whatever treatment I needed to follow the removal of my bump.
I tried not to be a bridge crosser. You know, when you let your mind wander to all the places you could possibly visit in every single scenario? Some of my friends were bridge crossers, studying the internet and learning things I am glad I never learned.
The night before my surgery, my friends and family gathered to pray over the little bump that had become a big problem. Brady leaned in close and asked me what I was most afraid of.
“When I go under,” I said, “I won’t be in control.”
My sweet husband grabbed my face.
“Carrie Lane Wisehart, you have never been in control.”
That was it, really. The lesson I was learning during this new journey with cancer. The faux control we all think we have. It’s like wrapping a fake fur around my neck and pretending its real. I do that with control all the time. But I don’t have any at all. The reigns don’t belong to me.
That night we prayed over my ankle. Through my fear. Past my haunted experiences with cancer. We prayed until I felt the heat in my leg and opened my eyes filled with peace. God was in control.
There are things that happened during my surgery that my husband didn’t tell me until later. Much later. The surgeon pulled him aside and told him dangerous secrets.
“I held it in my hand, Mr. Wisehart. I’ve held cancer before. This is definitely it.”
Brady knew what we were facing. I woke up out of surgery feeling all groggy and drugged. They wrapped up my roughly stitched foot and sent me home. It would be two weeks until the results of the biopsy would be returned. Until then I would be showering with garbage bags wrapped around my leg and enjoying much leg elevation and couch laying.
I’m not going to lie. I had a few dark moments. As much as I tried to avoid bridge crossing, I went there a few times. Brady never expressed fear, but once, he told me he didn’t know how to do pony tails. So I knew he was worried, too.
I kept going back to the bravery of my father who fought cancer – knowing that if he could fight it, so could I.
In the middle of all this, our church was preparing our Christmas program. A beautiful play. At the end of the production, the actors and musicians and the audience all held up signs that read,
“All Shall Be Well.”
We were trusting in Christ – we knew regardless of the circumstances that all would be well.
HE was in control.
A couple weeks later I couldn’t stand not knowing anymore, so I called the doctor’s office. A nurse nonchalantly told me that, oh, they’d received those results several days ago and oh, the tumor was benign.
Um, whaaaaat? Just like that, in that moment, all was well.
That nurse had no idea what kind of news she was giving me. She probably doesn’t even remember the conversation. She has no idea the miracle she communicated to a family that had been barely holding on to hope like a thread.
The cancer was gone.
The doctor tried to shrug it off. The surgeon explained it away. But I know what it was. The healing power of a God who cares. A God who is always in control. And I still believe that God healed my father’s cancer as well. God just healed him home.
All that to learn that I have never been in control. And I never will be. But that’s actually pretty freeing.
A lesson from the little bump that could.