Friday, February 04, 2011

Answered Prayers?

I suppose I will pick up where my last post left off: I was newly engaged and starting to build a life (and home!) with my future husband. At the time, my biggest stress was whether and how to tell my mom about our impending cohabitation.

Fast forward a few months: it's late September and I go in for my annual "womanly" exam. This exam kicks off a series of events that culminates in me learning, three days before our wedding, that I have breast cancer. At this point, we don't really know how bad it is: it's ductal carcinoma in situ (which, as far as cancer goes, that's good), but it's big (9.5 cm) and the cells are aggressive (that's bad).

Mr. Slapdash and I keep this to ourselves over the wedding weekend because we don't want to dampen the celebration. It's a fabulous wedding and we have a great time (and I'm now Mrs. Slapdash, thanks!). We tell family and friends our cancer news upon return from our honeymoon in Hawaii (which I spent wondering whether I was going to die like my sister's sister-in-law who died of BC at age 39). A couple of weeks later, I go under the knife. Mastectomy.

Then we get some great news with the pathology report: despite its size and despite the nefarious aggressiveness of the cells, it hasn't spread anywhere and they got it all out. No chemo, no radiation, no hormonal therapies needed. Whew!!! Even my surgeon was surprised that there was no invasive disease found.

My family, friends, and colleagues have been just great, support-wise, and of course Mr. Slap has been incredible. And today, I am recovering nicely from surgery and recently went back to work, where it is as though none of this happened.

So here is where this is all getting funky for me: I can't tell you how many of these supportive people who love me have commented on how God has "answered their prayers"; how "blessed" I was to have found Mr. Slap when I did; how almost-miraculous it was that no invasive cells were found. A lot of these people seem to have a narrative going in their heads about what a grand miracle of timing this all was: God brought my life partner around just in time to help me through this trial as my husband.

The snarky side of me thinks that "God's providence" would have been a more compelling argument if God had clearly prevented me from getting cancer to begin with. Yes, I'm going to live, but I became a one-boobed wonder at age 36 -- not exactly a dream-come-true. I am at risk of lymphedema in my right arm - if I ever develop it, there's no cure. And despite being cancer-free today, I am still at risk for a recurrence and I have a greater-than-average risk of getting another primary cancer in my lifetime. So yeah, things could have been way worse, but damn. It's not like I escaped it unscathed.

BUT, there is a bigger side of me that is like "whoa - that was pretty crazy timing" and I am very thankful for it - like I feel a general "Thanks, Universe!" sentiment quite frequently and am very aware that things really could have been much, much, much worse. It was also very awesome to have Mr. Slap by my side; I really could not have asked for more, partner-wise.

Still. I'm skeptical of any God role in any of it, particularly because merely having good things happen is no kind of proof of God. It was a lot of bad stuff happening in the world that made me start questioning God in the first place...and I'm pretty sure that a series of good, even seemingly divine, events in my life still can't undo all of that doubt. Right?


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on getting married! I'm happy that your cancer treatment turned out as well as it did.

Yeah, the "thank God for answered prayers" thing cuts both ways. The other side of it is God must not have answered the prayers of the family and friends of all those folks who die of cancer every year.

I'm with Dennett on this one: thank Goodness you're alive and well.

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