I’m sorry, did you say cancer? And thoughts on “getting over it”

I asked the nurse practitioner what it could be. She replied, “Well, it could be nothing. Or it could be cancer.” And this is what I learned…

get over it real



I’ve had a myth in my head for far too long. A myth that said when things get hard – unbearable even – you have to just keep moving and eventually it will pass. Head down, hand to the plow…keep moving. Get past this and it will be okay on the other side.

Advice was a lot easier to give when I was in my early 20s.

“You’ve just got to get over it.”  That was usually my advice. Maybe because I thought time was supposed to heal everything just like the Hallmark cards prophesied. Skimming past a situation with your fingers crossed that it won’t be too tragic is a solution. Get over it. Skip it and pray it never catches up to you.

As I’ve gotten older I have realized the faultiness of my advice. It seems life’s arm has gotten stronger and the curveballs it throws are harder and leave bigger marks. There are some things we can’t just get over.

Last week I started having unusual symptoms. I went to the doctor who was equally concerned. Tests were scheduled for this week. I was told that it could be cancer. Maybe other things were said, but that was pretty much all I heard.

For the next five days I had to try and live life as usual until test results came back in. I realize that for many people dealing with illnesses waiting five days isn’t too bad, but for me it was almost unbearable. Waiting to find out if you have a tumor or not hangs over each minute no matter how hard you try not to think about it.

By the time Saturday morning rolled around I discovered that I had two choices. I could go on, pushing through my days acting like everything was okay. Ignore the problem and it will go away. Ignore the thought patterns and eventually they will blur into everyday thoughts. I could wait until the situation changed and then my fear would subside.

I could learn how to cope like this. I could “get over it”. 

Or I could walk through it. Acknowledge the moments my heart started to panic and resist the urge to drown myself with aimless distractions. Stop hiding from the distress that surfaced with every quiet moment. Ask the hard questions. Throw punches at Jesus for bringing me to a place that didn’t feel safe.

I wrestled with myself, my imagination and the beliefs I desperately wanted to cling to. In the end I had a deep internal peace. Whatever the lab results told me, I was going to be okay. Tumor or no tumor, I decided I wouldn’t let fear dictate how I lived.

On Tuesday I got the tests back. It was not cancer.

There could have been another outcome. I could have just “gotten over it”. Shoved all the flaring emotions under the bed. Taking a deep breath when the news came in that I was fine. Then resume business as usual, keeping the debris of my heart hidden beneath the bed. Hoping it doesn’t slide out when the next hurdle in life comes.

And that is what happens when we try to get over it. It is out of sight but never quite gone. Slowly making its way back into the middle of our lives when we aren’t looking. Jumping at us whenever the next situation triggers it.

This is the myth so many of us believe when it comes to moving past our pain and weakness.

We stuff every moment with business or mind-numbing media. Some choose to fill their glasses with elixirs to make them forget and others laugh on cue – God forbid anyone see them cry. We work like puppets praying that someday – hopefully soon – we will wake up and it will be gone. All the pain, fear and insecurity.

Maybe one day we will wake up to realize we are no longer being hunted by the shadows of our past. But it has been my experience that things are rarely “gotten over”. They are ignored and avoided, but never conquered.

Sometimes the best way to get over something, is to just go through it. —> click to tweet

I wonder what would happen if we chose to just walk straight through our fires. If we quit trying to tame our pain into bitesize pieces that we have to digest for the rest of our lives. Sometimes our mountains we face just can’t be ignored anymore. We’ve got to cross those cliffs and walk through the forests. Cause there is no getting over something like this.

There is no getting over your breakup, your loss, your abuse, your addiction, your diagnosis or your shame.

There is just getting through it.

Acknowledging instead of ignoring. Looking at the photos, feeling the pain. Laying on the cold tile ’cause there is no easy recovery from a blow like this. Crying the tears and writing out the words your heart utters silently inside. Letting ourselves grieve the things we have lost or the fear of what may be. Going there bravely when everything in us screams to run away.

We don’t sit down or give up. We don’t walk around it. We simply walk through it – asking God to carry us when we are past the point of our own strength.

Look around you, friend. I’m not sure where your feet are standing at the moment. I don’t know what you are needing to walk through right now.

But you are destined for good places. Beautiful things are ahead for you – the kind that take your breath away for all the right reasons. Take heart friends. You can get through this.

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May 5, 2014 · 12:09 am

17 responses to “I’m sorry, did you say cancer? And thoughts on “getting over it”

  1. This is so beautifully put. To immerse ourselves in the moment, the good, the bad, and the ugly, is the only true way to live. To feel every tinge of hurt and every flutter of joy. The walls to our imaginary “everything-is-okay” world must be broken down so that Jesus can meet us in the reality of today.

    “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27

    Have a blessed day walking through the ups and downs and embracing His peace!

  2. Very well put, Elizabeth!

  3. Jennifer Dages

    2 years ago my youngest dd, age 7, was having some strange joint symptoms. I took her to the doctor and in the list of things that she mentioned was leukemia. I cried quietly all the way home. A few days later we found out it was Lyme Disease and began treatment. 2 years later she is doing very well but I so remember those feelings as I faced the thought of leukemia squarely in its face. Lyme was no picnic either but she has healed and for that I am very grateful.

    • Jennifer, wow. I think our kids possibly dealing with something is far more frightening. Glad she is doing well. Does she still have to do treatment?

      • Jennifer Dages

        No, further treatment since January of 2013. Believe I watch for any signs that the Lyme did not get all taken care of. And I have my protocol if anyone gets bit in our house involving a homeopathic Lyme nosode, molecular silver, and teasel root.

  4. Katie

    Love this post! A little over a month ago my dad was hospitalized with sever stomach pain. A few days and a few test later the Dr. told us he may have pancreatic cancer. Woah, what? He was so sick he wasn’t able to have a biopsy. Still, almost two months later he hasn’t been well enough for one. The first few days the fear was almost unbearable, but praise God for all that he has done in my heart through this invitation for more intamacy with him. I tend to have the same “get over it mentality”, but boy i couldn’t just “get over” this. This was my dad, and the fact that I may lose him was too much. I couldn’t just push this in the back of my mind and never think about it again. I had to face this head on. I have experienced Gods peace in a way i did not even know was possible. I know that God is good, i know that he is for me, and i know that he is working all things together for my good and his glory. How could I question him. He is soverign and all I can do is rest in his promises. My dad has a biopsy scheduled for Friday and no matter the outcome I know that God is with me and will sustain me through it all. Thank you for this post!

    • Katie, ugh sounds like you know exactly what I am talking about! I’m so glad you have walked through it and found His peace. It is amazing how God can interrupt our fear and give us the grace for what we are walking through. I will be praying for your dad this Friday. Would you mind popping back over and letting me know what the biopsy shows? I’d love to stay posted. I’ll be praying for sure!

  5. Jessi

    “Get past this and it will be okay on the other side.”
    I love this. I thought this. Until I realize, like you, that many times you need to walk through things not simply get past it.
    I’ve gone through 3 biopsies in the past 5 months. The chipper, slightly concerned voice on the phone saying “I’m sure it’s nothing but something looks abnormal” started the road I never imagined I’d walk. I was 26 this past November when the doctor made that call. I had gone because I felt a lump in my breast that didn’t seem “right”, probably a cyst I told myself as I headed to the doctor. When she did my yearly check up, I never imagined that her office would call with concerns about cancer…cervical cancer. Then they found a lump in my breast..with two other questionable lymph nodes.
    It’s been a rollercoaster over the past few months as I still wait for definite answers. Next month I have to go for another ultrasound to determine if they want to do a biopsy on my breast. This week I find out if the pre-cancer they found is in fact cancer-cancer. You can’t get past stuff like this, I’ve learned that. All I can do is push into God, trusting Him as I continue head first through this. The other side can be scary. Every time they’ve done a biopsy I’ve been warned that doing one could effect my chance at having children…being a single 20something, that almost scares me more than having cancer-cancer. But I press on, I seek God’s strength & trust His plan, knowing He is already on the other side of this, whatever it may be.
    Thank you for posting this. It was perfect timing, a much needed reminder that it’s ok to feel the spectrum of emotions and walk through this.

    • Jessi, I had to re-read this several times to make sure I heard you correctly. What I had to spend 5 days doing you have had to spend 5 months doing? Amazing. Amazing that you’ve stayed in the fight to really walk through it and amazing that we have a God that gives us grace to endure what we couldn’t ever imagine.

      I would love to grab a coffee and hear everything that has rolled through your head and been determined in your heart through this. You must have so much wisdom from journeying down this road. I know you probably don’t feel like it at this moment – probably don’t feel brave at all – but you must have so impart. Sadly, I’m betting you don’t live near me.

      I’ll be praying for you this week as you get your results back. This is the results for cervical cancer this week and then another breast ultrasound at the end of the month? Keep me posted. I’d love to know how to pray

      • Jessi

        God’s grace IS amazing isn’t it?! This whole period of waiting (not always as gracefully as I’d like to admit) has made me appreciate even more my salvation. Honestly, if I had been faced with this 4 years ago when I was a girl who didn’t believe in God, I don’t know how on Earth I would’ve been able to wait without falling apart.
        Yes, please keep me in your prayers! This week is the cervical cancer results, end of the month will be the breast ultrasound. I try to focus on one result at a time 🙂 I’m overwhelmed by how blessed I am to live in a country where I can easily get these tests & procedures done. Please pray for the results to be accurate and for God to guide my doctors to make the best decisions.

        If you ever journey to the great NorthEast, we will certainly have to grab some coffee! Your adventures around the world completely inspire me and make me feel brave enough to take a flight outside of the good ole US to see the world 🙂

  6. Sheila

    So well put. I said ‘yup’ quite a few times reading this!! I have not had to fight ‘the big c’, but instead, past abuse. A friend kept telling me to stop ‘picking off the scabs’, and to just not ‘go there’ — but when God sits you down and throws open the doors to the ugly past and all the lies you’ve believed, and He asks you to let Him fix it all — as scary as it is, as painful as it is, He is trustworthy. He’s got you, and He WILL bring you through. Three years down that road now, I can unequivocally say He is my Redeemer – and not just of me personally, but of each and every arrow that Satan meant for harm, each and every situation that brought hurt and shame. Beauty for ashes.

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