June 29, 2009 was the day of my mother’s surgery. I assumed that she would have surgery, recover, and go home. The waiting area was fairly quiet, though there were more than fifteen people. I wondered if the other people waiting felt the anxiety that I felt. After waiting for five hours or more, my mother’s surgeon appeared. I looked to see if his face contained any expression. I thought that if I looked at his face it may contain a clue of my mother’s outcome. His face showed nothing. He informed me and my family that the basketball sized tumor in my mother’s pelvis was ovarian cancer. My first thought was death. I could feel the tears begin to form in my eyes, so I dashed to the nearest restroom. I wept as I pleaded to God to let my mother be okay. At that moment I felt scared, but in an instant my fear disappeared. As I prayed a feeling of peace came over me. I had no idea at the time why and from where this peace came. I had no idea my mother’s journey to surviving ovarian cancer would soon change my life. Little did I know that this experience would strengthen my family’s bond, change my point of view of life, and increase my faith in God.
My family has always been somewhat close, but this experience would make us even closer. We needed to support one another through this hard time. We never experienced anything like this before, so we all needed each other. Our communication and visits home became more frequent. With my mother having doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy we wanted to know how she felt all the time. Now we talked daily not only to check on my mother, but to keep one another encouraged. My mother would always tell us to be hopeful. She said that when she prayed to God during her sickness His answer was, “Be hopeful.” Her faith is what kept her strong. We knew that we also needed to be strong as my mother endured chemotherapy and the uncertainty of her future. Our family bond grew strong and our relationships changed. As a result, my point of view of life changed as well.
How can one experience change a person’s whole point of view of life? For me this experience made me realize life is too short. Situations that bothered me before did not matter anymore. I began to forgive people who angered me in my past. I handled situations and people in my life differently now. I began to have a more peaceful and joyful outlook on life. According to Philippians 4:7 (King James Version), “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” describes the peace that I felt now. I stopped worrying and fearing the difficulties tomorrow may bring. This experience helped me to see other people’s perspectives. Many people did not know, and still don’t know, what we went through in this experience. I learned that you never know what others are going through in life. Just like people did not know what I was going through in mine. Learning this, I set out to be as joyful and helpful to others as I possibly could. I began to feel that a lot of us, in this world, are searching for love, happiness, and some sort of peace. My mother always taught me that I could obtain these desires through God. Coming to this conclusion and remembering the teachings of my mother led me on a path back to my faith. I knew it was time for me to reconcile with God.
I had never felt the need to form a relationship with God. My mother has always been religious, so hearing discussions about God or the Bible every day was common. God and the Bible to me, before adulthood, were just a name and a storybook. My understanding was that I needed to believe in God and refrain from sinning. Doing this would keep God from condemning me to the lake of fire when I died. No relationship forming just fear. Growing up going to church three to four times a week was like a chore to me. I could not understand that if this God was so magnificent and powerful, why was the world so horrible and full of hate? I still believed in Him, but can honestly say my faith in Him was not strong. So, by the time I became an adult I stopped going to church. I only prayed because I had become accustomed to doing so. Being a part of my mother’s journey made me pray more whole-hardheartedly. I now felt as though I could “talk” to God. I talked to God about anything and received many answers from Him. It is something I never experienced before, but the more I “talked” the more my faith grew. With this new-found faith in God, I knew that my mother and family would come out of this experience even stronger.
After six rounds of chemotherapy and five years later, my mother is completely cancer free and doing very well. This experience still affects us, in a good way, to this day. What I learned from this experience helped me four years later during the removal of one of my ovaries. Our family bond and my relationship with God continue to strengthen every day. It is amazing how another person’s experience can have an impact on the people around them. As the outsiders looking in we sometimes feel sorry for the person affected most by the experience. We do not realize that the people around them get affected as well. As I reflect on this experience, tears of joy stream down my face. I thank God for this experience and all the knowledge I gained during it. I never had a clue that my mother’s journey would affect my life in so many ways. I am glad that I experienced it and that it changed my life
“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:7
Written by Leah Zachery, June 30, 2014