Be Not Afraid

…the greatest of these is Love.

Okay, first of all, I’m a bit emotional today, a lot scared, and feeling a little scattered, so I apologize if this post rambles beyond belief. I’ve been wanting to post an update since my doctor called me Friday night to tell me that I was going to need another biopsy, but I’ve been waiting, hoping for some sort of wisdom to come to me first. Yet, it hasn’t. In my humanity, I don’t have the ability to make sense of everything in my life, no matter how hard I pray for wisdom.

It’s seemed to be one obstacle after another this year, and I don’t know why things have happened this way. But I’m realizing that it’s okay to recognize and accept my limitations. That’s not to say that I don’t think we should continuously seek to better know and understand our purpose on Earth and the meaning of our life, but as I attended the funeral of a dear friend’s mother this morning, I was struck by how even in the midst of an expected death of a loved one who has lived a long life, there are still questions and there is still grief, and that’s not only okay, but natural.

We might never quite comprehend why we have to suffer, or why we are given the crosses we are. We might never understand why we have to grieve, or why we have to say goodbye to those we love, even if we believe it’s only an earthly, temporary good-bye. We might never grow-out of being afraid, no matter how many things we’ve overcome or how long we’ve lived. And most of us might never be saintly enough to completely abandon sadness and anger and accept what we are given, even if we believe in our hearts that God is with us and that His love is bigger than all things.

Today as I watched my friend and his family pray for the soul of their beloved, honoring the great woman she was and the many roles she filled here on earth, I witnessed tears and sighs of grief. But I also found myself in an incredible position to witness great joy and laughter. For as a young mother, chasing after her crawling, yelping, giggling, farting baby boy, I received a plethora of smiles and chuckles accompanied by knowing shakes of the head, right there in the middle of all that grief.

Today I was brought to tears by the reminder that joy exists always, even in unexpected places like a funeral mass. Sometimes, it just takes a little child to remind us of the love that is bigger than all things.

And so tonight, I am embracing my fear, my anger, my confusion, and all of my questions. I do not know why I was diagnosed with cancer almost a year ago. I do not know why, after six gruelling cycles of chemotherapy and believing I had reached remission three months ago, I am again being tested by the sign of activity that may or may not be cancer. I do not know why the first biopsy done last week was unsuccessful, meaning that I must have a surgical biopsy tomorrow. I do not know why the activity is showing on the edge of my tumor, forcing my surgeon to do a more intense biopsy than the one I had last year, one which frightens me because it entails three incisions instead of one, a deflated lung, chest tubes, possible hospital stay over the weekend, and a longer recovery time. I do not know why we all suffer, and why so many others suffer much greater pains than me.

But what do I know? I know that joy can overcome sorrow and that love exists always, and how great this knowledge is; how it overcomes all things!

“…now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:12-13

I would be so grateful if you would send me positive thoughts and pray on my behalf tomorrow morning (my procedure is scheduled for seven-thirty, but judging from my nerves all week I could use those prayers starting now!). If you wish to pray for specific intentions, pray that no cancer is found (there is a possibility that the activity is brown fat) and that the procedure goes as smoothly as possible. Pray that I might have courage and peace, and that my surgeon might be confident and skilful. Pray that my husband and family might be comforted. But most of all, pray that I might be given grace to accept whatever the outcome might be, and if necessary, strength to face the next step of treatment.

As always, I am unable to fully express my gratitude for your support. I’ll be thinking of you all tomorrow, and praying in thanksgiving for your friendship and love.

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30 comments

  1. Megan

    I’ll be holding you in prayer at 7:30 on the dot…still a gift to be able to witness and love you in all of this. Thank you for your vulnerability and beauty!

  2. jonniebug

    Dear Glorious Father in heaven,
    Creator of Heaven and Earth,
    My Prince of Peace,
    My Light in Darkness,

    I am humbled in your presence in all things that I do. I am blessed that even when I have wandered off of the path that you leave 99 sheep to search for me. You know that I am your servant, a sinner, a mere human and someone full of mistakes, yet you call me your child. Forgive me of my sins, they are many. Use me as your instrument tonight and let me break free from my own earthly suffering to stand by another servant and beautiful child Allison. Allison is my sister in a lot of ways, as a servant, your child, a child of earthly parents, mothers of beautiful sons, sisters in faith, sister’s in cancer survivor-ship… Lord, the internet says that Allison and I “stumbled upon each other” and I laugh because I know that it is you that led me to her. Wrap your loving arms around my sister tonight and tomorrow. Let YOUR will be done in her life. Remind her that YOU are ever present. Remind her of the promises. Remind her that forever starts in her last earthly breath. Lord, I pray for my sister Allison’s Spirit tonight. I pray that she walk into those tests tomorrow remembering that she is already a winner. Remind her that she has seen miracles and that YOUR power is greater than everything this earth and the skilled medicine men have to give her. Lord, remind my sister of your son’s suffering. That he knew HIS end every day he was here. Remind her of his cry in the garden. “TAKE THIS CUP!” and the grief of knowing what the gift of life is and what fighting for it means. Remind my sister that Jesus had to leave ones he loved too. I know my sister’s pain. YOU know I am here long after some of the best medicine men predicted. Let her know that in my secret prayers at night, I ask for one more kiss of the curls on my granddaughters hair. One more embrace of my son. One more day…. That at 42 years old I feel too young to leave my mom and sister’s and their children that I love like my own. That I know what it is like to have to go to too many cancer related funerals. That losing my friend Kim who was 35 and my Aunt who was 34 to cancer seemed like I would never be able to love again and let her see that look….as little as I know of her – I am loving her by praying. Let my friend know she is not alone. I petition YOUR will to be done for my sister’s body and in my secret prayers I pray for brown fat to be all that the those test reveals. I offer her my breath prayer that YOU know I use in every test, biopsy, lab draw, surgery and all things tough – I repeat this breath prayer over and over to remind me of YOU – WHEN HE IS WITH ME, I AM STRONG. HE IS ALWAYS WITH ME.

    Remind Allison to BE NOT AFRAID – AMEN – SWEET FATHER – AMEN

    Allison,

    Find HIS song in your heart. Sing it LOUD! You are a beautiful child. I will continue to be in prayer for you and your family. Rest in HIS loving arms.

    Your Sister
    Jonnie Hickman

  3. Anna Keating

    Flooding heaven with prayers. This is the prayer that reminds me most of you.

    Christ with you,
    Christ before you, Christ behind you,
    Christ in you,
    Christ beneath you, Christ above you,
    Christ on your right, Christ on your left,
    Christ where you lie,
    Christ where you sit, Christ where you arise,

    Christ in the heart of _everyone_ who thinks of you,
    Christ in the mouth of _everyone_ who speaks of you,
    Christ in every eye that sees you,
    Christ in every ear that hears you.

  4. anne buckingham

    Thank you again for sharing your powerful thoughts and insights and in such beautiful writing. Let the doctors and nurses be soothing, caring, and validating in the way they treat you. Let the procedure go as smoothly and be as painless as possible. Let it be “brown fat.” Love to you…Mike and JP…and all of your family… Anne

  5. Karen Owens

    You are in my prayers, dear Allison, right now, and I will pray for positive results tomorrow. May God bless you during this challenging time in your young life. Xxoo

  6. Gayle Engelstad

    Many of us at St. Joe’s are praying for you – thanks for the specific requests. Especially I will be praying for you at 6:30 am tomorrow. Gayle

  7. Diane Pfarr

    Ali,
    We are praying for a positive outcome for you and this biopsy tomorrow that you must endure. We also continue our prayers for your beautiful little boy and your awesome husband.
    We are sending all of our strength, prayers and love your way.
    God’s love and peace to you and your family.
    Diane and Donny

  8. Karen Caviale

    Allie (also known as devil doll. monkey punkey willems)!!

    John and I send our prayers and love. We are thinking of you and praying for BROWN FAT!! Would love to hear those words in the diagnosis tomorrow!! Up with brown fat!! Amazed by your faith, strength and love, Allison. Hugs and kisses to you, smacks to your techno Gerber baby boy, John Paul, strong hugs to beautiful Mike and all of the above to your amazing Mom…
    Love you all…
    Karen and John

  9. Anne (tiber) D'Angelo

    Allison – you amaze me and my family! We are all praying for you before, during and after your procedure. Much love, The Tiber Family

  10. Nancy Jahnke

    What a witness to faith you have been to me today! I am just a friend of Judy F’s and haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you, except through your beautiful and very “real” words today!
    My prayers are with you for health, wisdom, acceptance, comfort, and peace! You already experience JOY~It’s so apparent in your writing! May God walk with you, guard and keep you, every step of the way!

  11. Judy A. Felgenhauer

    You were in my thoughts and prayers when I finally fell asleep last night, when I woke during the night and when I first awoke this morning. My prayers and love will be with you all day and everyday. The same goes for your family, especially Mike and your precious little one. I can’t forget your wonderful mom and dad either. They love you so.

  12. My Sweet Sweet Friend,
    Thank you for letting me call you that.
    I feel like I have grown to treasure you since following you during the 31days post event.
    I feel like we walk together in many ways. Through your writing and your faith you have “held” me up during the trials that I have faced. I feel like I am walking with you through your tough times as well. I may not always let you know but I DO pray for you, for your family, for your health and I give thanks to our God that he brought us together through this medium.
    I KNOW we would be friends in “real, no cyber-life” too.
    I so wish I was gifted with words and could comfort or assure you, but that was not my gift. (I do have many gifts for which I am VERy grateful) But what you must know, is you ARE in my prayers. I meet with my girlfriends on Thursday evenings and we will be also lifting you up in our prayers.
    I, too, rejoice that you are human. Thank you for feeling fear, pain, doubt because I too have those emotions. When you experience these emotions and share with us, it really does make me feel more accepting of myself and my limitations. I loved when you pointed out that although we are confined to our humanness, we can still strive for “Godliness” or perfection. I think it is the reminder to be kind to myself when I fall short on perfect faith. Cuz’ I am not perfect…yet!
    So remember that our Lord is with you, and with your loved ones, and please I hope you have some comfort in knowing that you have made (and are making) a difference to me. I thank you soooooooooooo very much.
    Marjorie

  13. Beverly Leonard

    Allison, having never met you, I receive a link to your wisdom from Sweet Rebecca, who obviously loves you to no end. I just want you to know that you have really touched my heart and spirit with your strength and wisdom. And so it is with joy that I send that amazing positive energy right back to you. You are a blessing even to those who only know you through this blog. Much love, healing, and laughter to you and your family.

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