Where do you run when you are afraid?
I am the owner of three dogs; maybe the caregiver is a better term. My son adopted Amy in 2004 from a rescue group in Seattle, WA and flew her to our home. I still have Amy; my son has moved to his own home.
Amy is a female Border Collie. She is the leader of our pack and not afraid of anything. She is not afraid of the rain, thunder, fireworks, getting dirty, other animals, and certainly not of our male Border Collie. (She does give my husband respect when he is home) Reno is my male Border Collie. He, on the other hand is afraid of many things. He is our “Eeyore” in the group; a pet store puppy that never sold and obviously was abused by someone before we adopted him from a rescue group. Lil’bit is the newest member of the pack, but certainly not the lowest in the pecking order. She was dropped off in our neighborhood by someone who did not want to take care of her. My son noticed her on several different occasions as he visited and felt sorry for her. He loves animals and asked if I would keep her for a few weeks so he could take her to the vet and find a home for her, I agreed. That was eight months ago and she is still with us. She is a mix but definitely has Jack Russell markings and characteristics. Other than a spouse that travels some, that is the menagerie at our house.
It was raining the other night as I had gone to bed. I love to listen to the rain. When it is a gentle rain it is soothing and reminds me of God. When it is lightening and thundering, I am awestruck by the wonder of it, but, I can also be terrified by it. On this night, I had not heard any thunder until lightening must have stuck fairly close to the house. It was really loud. Both Reno and Lil’bit ran to my bedroom from other locations in the house. Reno laid down on the floor as close to the bed as he could. Lil’bit, on the other hand, jumped on the bed and curled up next to me as close as she could, shaking. Amy, of course, ignored it. Even though their actions struck me as funny, it made me think. We all react in various ways to what scares us. Some run for comfort from others, some to drugs or alcohol, and some run to God. Then there are those that are unwilling to recognize fear. Where do you run when you are scared?
We live in times that have cause for concerns. Our country seems to be falling apart; many churches are succumbing to worldly influences and are no longer preaching the truth of the gospel. Families are struggling and the government is trying to redefine what a family truly is. The bedrock of what our country was built upon is crumbling around us. Where do you run or are the things around you even relevant to you? Does it matter? Here is my story and an explanation of where I run and what I do.
It seemed like a typical day. I had seen a doctor at Keesler Air Force Base early. I was having some difficulty with my toes. There was a pain in my right foot, and it was making it difficult to wear any of my shoes, and to walk. In the office visit, the doctor suggested a blood test to make sure I was not diabetic. I thought it was a crazy idea - positive that I was not diabetic. I hate needles and avoid them if possible, but my husband insisted. It was around 6:00 in the evening when the phone rang...that call changing my life forever.
“Ms. Moser, this is Captain Holcomb. I have been looking at your blood work and we would like for you to come in tomorrow for another blood test.” Captain Holcolm, was the doctor I was currently assigned to at the Air Force hospital. This was not the first time I had received a call from a doctor after hours, the other call, a few years earlier, was about a biopsy on a mole on my toe. The biopsy was labeled as cancerous. Another call from another doctor later in the evening could not be a positive option.
“Captain, can you tell me why you need me to come back tomorrow? Is something wrong? Did something show up that is abnormal?” I never have been great at letting things go. Due to the kind of work I have been involved, I am detailed oriented. I definitely heard something in her voice that made me wonder what was behind the call.
“Well,” the doctor began, “the lab tech and I have looked at the blood sample and we feel another test needs to be taken. It will take 10 days for it to come back to give conclusive answers, but we feel it is important and we really would like to have you come in tomorrow.”
“What do you think you might be looking at,” I asked. I really wanted more information. “We cannot be certain without the second test, even though, as I stated, the lab tech and I both agree. I hate to state an opinion without the final test,” she hesitated. I was not to be deterred. “I totally understand that and appreciate you wanting to be sure before giving a diagnosis, but if you and the lab technician believe the same thing, you must be fairly certain. I won’t hold you to it, can you please tell me what you believe you have found.”
“We looked at the slide of your blood and we believe we are seeing Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia cells,” she stated. “It could explain why you have had elevated white blood cell counts for some time. No one has commented or noticed it before and probably should have questioned it since you have had elevated white blood cell counts for a couple of years. Maybe they felt you were in the office for an infection or something else that was causing it, but they missed asking other questions. I see no record of anyone checking any further. We will not know for sure until we get back the results from the blood test. We would like for you to come in and have that tomorrow morning.”
I’ll be there,” I whispered. “Oh, how do you spell that, what you said you think it is? I am not sure how to even pronounce it.” She spelled Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia for me. My husband, John, was standing there beside me. I hung up the phone and rushed to the computer to begin researching what I had just written down. I knew what leukemia was and this did not sound good. The computer can be good and bad, and research on a disease you have may be helpful, but it may also be scary. I found that Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that starts from white blood cells in the bone marrow. There are different versions of it and with some you can die quickly from it, and other versions you can live longer, but there is no real cure. Wow! How do you sleep as you wonder and wait?
I went the next morning to have the blood test. Ten days is a long time to wait, search on computers, and gather information. Waiting, is not my favorite past time. I found information about CLL. Some people who found out they had CLL lost their battle in two years. I also found that some lived longer. My husband and I went to Keesler to see the doctor together in ten days. We were told that I definitely have CLL. What do you do? What do you say? How do you cope? Where do you run?
Have you felt like that? Have you wanted to run away and hoped trouble would not follow you? My husband wanted to pretend that my cancer would never be serious. I did not feel like I could talk to him about it. He seemed to be having difficulty coping with it, maybe it was because he lost him mom a few years earlier to cancer. Maybe it was that we had dated 30 years before we married, went separate ways, got back together and married. He may have just not known what to do. The result was the same. I really had no one to confide my feelings of frustration, anger, or fear. At first I wanted to tell everyone, I guess I thought it might help, or maybe I hoped I would find someone that would hurt with me. Then I wanted to tell no one.
As I searched, the only one that I cried out to who really understood was God. I sat and cried in my bathroom. I sobbed. I screamed out, “Why?” I was not angry with God, but I was angry it was happening to me. I had so much to do before I died. I worried about my boys, my husband, about parents. It was all so unfair.
God listened; he was not angry with me. I felt his strength surround me. God has been good to me on this road. I found good doctors both here in town and at MD Anderson. The version of the disease I have is less aggressive than some. It was eight years ago when Captain Holcomb called. I still have had no treatments. That may sound strange, it certainly did to me when I first heard that doctors do not prescribe medication to stop CLL from progressing, but because it is throughout the body; doctors do not recommend treatment until necessary. It can metastasize and become some other form of cancer. Until recently, I have not felt any effects from the CLL. That may be changing.
The real effects in my life have been a closer walk with God. I have peace that He is there and He has a plan. I have the opportunity to tell others about my amazing God. I sing to our Lord with a joy that comes from having an additional day to live that God has given me. The songs give comfort. One of my favorites is More Than Enough. I have been able to love my family from different eyes than if I had I not been diagnosed with CLL.
If I had a choice, I am not brave enough to say I would choose it, but there has been good come from it.
I am never able to completely forget I have this monster building inside me, but I know my God is bigger and will walk with me through it. I do not know the outcome and how long I have to live. Does anyone really? I know tough days are ahead. I have been a pretty high energy, strong personality through my life. My youngest son will tell me to bring it down to a 7. My dad taught me to “pull myself up by my own boot straps.” Having a disease that can create a situation requiring dependence on others and not being strong enough to do the things I want or feel I need to do is scary. But, I know who I will run to when I am feeling sad, lonely or lost – I will run to God. He never lets us down. He is always there. He is sitting waiting for us to come to Him. Will you run to Him when you need Him?
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalms 23:4