My sister has cancer

There’s a scene near the end of the film “Sweet Home Alabama” where Reese Witherspoon is ditching Patrick Dempsey at the altar. He stands there, numb, and says “So this is what this feels like”

That scene made sense to me yesterday, when my little sister Abigail (who is not so little; 19 years old and 6 ft 2) called me up after work and told me that the series of lumps she found in her neck six months ago are in fact, thyroid cancer.

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I don’t know about you, but when I hear of horrible situations happening to people I know, my mind wanders a bit and I wonder how I would cope in that situation. I wonder how I would feel.

As it turns out, there is no way to prepare for news like this, and more than 24 hours later, I still don’t know how I feel.

Today I was such a scatter brain that I managed to spill a nearly full cup of tea over myself. First thing in the morning. While wearing a white t-shirt. Idiot. The rest of the day I had the attention span of a gnat. Oh, and I almost poured boiling water over myself whilst trying to make a cup of tea later in the afternoon.

Right now, I am focusing on the things that I know – rather than the things I don’t. I’m resisting the urge to Google…once I know the official name of it, I’ll do some research but until then it would just be too weird.

Things I know
Abigail has thyroid cancer which is also affecting her lymph glands
She is having surgery to remove it on 2nd October
After that, she’ll be having radio-iodine treatment to eradicate any further cancer
God is in control

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I know that lots of people, when faced with awful situations, will rail against God and blame him. Millions of people use the fact that there is sickness and suffering in the world as an excuse not to believe in Him. Not me. I know that God is in control and He has this whole situation in hand. More than that, He’s been preparing us for this.

How?

Abigail has a friend called Jess, who earlier this year had a stroke and later found out she had leukaemia. Jess is a good friend of Abigail’s and they work together, so Abigail has seen her at her best and worst through her own illness. Jess’ consultant is called Dr Malik. Dr Malik is also Abigail’s consultant. When she was waiting for her results, Abigail sat down with Jess and Jess was very lovely and explained exactly what it’s like to have cancer. Abigail then felt reassured that she knew what she might be facing – even though none of us wanted it to be this. What an angel Jess has been.

This time last year, our family’s support network was very small. It was basically just the immediate family; eight of us, a rabbit and a dog. Yesterday when I spoke to my mum and my sister, there were about a dozen non-family people that we could think of who will help us through this – my mum’s new friends that she has met through a course she attended and a lovely friend from work, my brother-in-law’s family, our friend Penny who lives in the village… we have people.

This time two years ago my Mum and Abigail both suffered from severe depression. Both of them still have depression, but nowhere near the extent that they did before. While this has knocked us all for six (daft expression) it is not going to beat us down.

So while I do still feel unprepared for news like this; I know that God has prepared us for this – and I can, and will, turn to Him throughout this time.

Tomorrow, my sister and brother in law are driving back to Plymouth from Wales, and after work my brother and his girlfriend and I are driving down as well. We are all assembling, like the Avengers, to talk and hug and watch Disney movies. This is what we do.

Abigail has started a blog – of course – because she is a fighter and wants to document her journey. You can read more here: http://mylife-cherryblossom.tumblr.com/

There may be blog-silence for a little while. There may be blog overload for a while. I don’t know really.

But what I do know?

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains
One thing remains

Your love never fails it never gives up it never runs out on me

On and one and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never ever have to be afraid
One thing remains

In death and in life I’m confident and covered by the power of your great love
My debt is paid there’s nothing that can separate my heart from your great love

(One Thing Remains; Jesus Culture)

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