By Wendy Chorot
Nothing could have prepared me for the gut-twisting pain of discovering my best friend was diagnosed with stage 4 T-cell lymphoma. I have never experienced such raw, hyperventilating terror as the realization of what she will endure sank into my heart. Brain tumor, chemo, radiation, baldness, bone marrow transplant—these are not the things I want for my friend. And they do not sound like plans to prosper and not harm.
I am grieving a loss, though my friend is very much alive and fighting this battle with courage and godly strength. I am grieving the loss of what used to be, the loss of what will never be again. Just recognizing the various stages of grief in myself angered me. I suddenly hated the idea of putting scientific labels to the things I was feeling. I wanted to change the stages of grief from denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance to stomping, screaming, seething, shock, and suffering.
I have hated the sun for shining when I’m hurting so much. As part of the stomping stage of grief, I’ve asked God why it’s not possible to divvy up the treatments among family and friends so that one fragile little body doesn’t have to endure it all alone. God keeps reminding me that she’s not alone. And He loves her more than I do.
After the cancer tornado ripped through my heart, I stood in the midst of destruction and combed through the debris, realizing that cancer could not create a loss of what mattered most—our relationship. Cancer can not take away the friendship we’ve worked so hard to build and maintain.
And that’s when I realized that cancer will never win. It prowls around like a roaring lion, but its reign of terror is limited. My friend will be healed. Whether or not her healing takes place on this side of heaven, that’s up to God, but cancer will not win.
Some may think the decision to shave my head was a hard one. They would be wrong. I have felt “bald” in my heart since my friend’s diagnosis more than a month ago. Before the chemo took her hair. Shaving my head just brought the physical baldness together with the emotional baldness. Take my hair, it means nothing to me. But my friend? She and I need to grow old together. We need to sit in our rockers and laugh about the time long ago that we were bald together. Yeah, take my hair, but my friend, I need to hold in my arms a little longer.
Thanks Nick The Barber (American missionary serving in France).