Cancer – a curve in the road

My all-time favorite ride at Disneyland is Space Mountain. For those of you not familiar with this attraction it is a roller coaster. I like it because the majority of the ride takes place in complete darkness. It is a thrill ride full of unexpected twists, turns, and drops. In some ways Rita’s cancer is a bit like the ride, only we are not sure how or when this will come to an end. Last Thursday we received confirmation from the pathologist that they removed all the cancer. I cannot begin to tell you how happy this made us. There are still 6-8 weeks of radiation and 5 years of hormone replacement therapy. All of this felt like steps of precaution on the road to being declared cancer free.

Then Friday came. Rita’s surgeon called. The first part of his call reconfirmed everything we already knew. They removed all the cancer. Then he used the word “but.” I have come to strongly dislike that word. It is very rarely a harbinger of good news.

He started to talk about margins. There were concerns with the margins. I still don’t know what “margins” all refers to but, there’s that word, it wasn’t good news. They found some pre-cancerous cells near the surface of the skin. I was under the impression that radiation was supposed to take care of the “pre-cancerous stuff,” but the doctor started talking about removal of the cells. This sounded like more surgery. Then he went on to say he didn’t want to keep taking pieces. What does that mean?

All of this is testing our faith. And too be honest I am not interested in hearing about a lack of faith. I believe, that is not in doubt. However, I am frustrated. This has impacted how I have worshipped lately. I am tired of a worship experience only grounded in a God who always comes through for God’s people, if they just believe enough.

There are entire sections of Scripture dedicated to lament, sorrow, and frustration. God’s people are not always given simple answers. Positive thinking is not a cure-all. Last year at a conference I was introduced to the possibility of using lament in worship. From the stage they sang words that I am singing today:

I need to hear from you

I’m crying out

And through the pain we'll learn to trust in you

For reasons I do not understand God seems silent, but I am learning to worship in a new way.