My sister recently wrote an article on prayer and it was purchased and published in the The Lutheran Magazine. The article was about the transformation that takes place when one prays. The article included a brief story on my battle with cancer and how prayer was important to me during that time. Prayer was my way of taking what little control I had in my life at the time and using it in the only way I knew would be the most effective - by praying and casting my cares upon God. Prayer gave me power to move on and face whatever was ahead of me whether it was good or bad.
I am now finding myself relying on prayer once again as the long awaited surgeries to fix my face will be started within the next few months. However, I am learning something different this time. I am learning the importance of praying persistently until the answer itself has come or until I have received the assurance that it will come. I am also learning to pray with belief that my prayer will be answered. This is what faith is all about.
"Have faith that whatever you ask for in prayer is already granted you, and you will find that it will be" (Mark 11:24)
More and more, as we live the prayer life, shall we come to experience and recognize this God-given assurance, and know when to rest quietly in it, or when to continue our petitioning until we receive it. --The Practice of Prayer
The plan to fix my face started back in March. It has been another long road for me to travel and I have had to be patient and wait on God for the right time to come. After much time spent meeting with several different doctors I finally have a team of specialists that have experience with facial and oral reconstruction in someone who has radiated bone and skin. The surgery I will undergo will be risky...I soon discovered this as I was turned down by several doctors who avoided working on patients like me. It has been a long process, but I now see an end in sight and feel like there is a solution that does have its risks, but can be done. I met with an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon this week who will be doing the surgery along with my Surgical Oncologist. Over the next few months, he will be deliberating with specialists around the world, performing a simulated surgery and mapping out the best way to fix my face with as little risk as possible.
As of now, the plan is to reposition the transplanted bone in my face so that it is not so prominent and lower to accommodate future teeth implants to replace the teeth that were and will be extracted. In addition, a plate will be placed underneath my eye to raise it up and fill in the space that was once occupied by the bone I lost during my maxillectomy and later by the infection. After healing for 3-4 months, additional surgeries will be required to tweak anything that does not look right and implants will be placed 6-12 months down the road. The risks involve infection, rejection of the plate and skin breakdown. The surgeon feels the risks are low, and all precautions will be taken to avoid what happened to me in the past. When I asked the surgeon if this was his face, what would he do...he said he would do it with no hesitation.
Up until now, it has been a wonderful year filled with NOTHING but school homework, driving my kids to and from sports or activities, boating and swimming up at the cabin and spending time with family and friends. There is happiness in our house again. Plans, activities and vacations are made with no hesitations. I am able to RSVP to invitations with a confident YES I WILL BE THERE! Life has been normal and this normalcy was much needed to gear up for another year that may be challenging for me and my family. It has been wonderful to experience normalcy again, but I still don't feel quite like myself. I am trying to figure this out…could it be that although I have recovered physically, I haven't recovered mentally or emotionally from battling cancer? Or could it be because I am living with a face that makes me feel uncomfortable in my own skin and insecure when I am around others? Whatever it is, it isn't allowing me to feel complete peace. Ultimately, I sense my journey hasn't quite ended yet.
My next MRI will be in early December. Should this next MRI be clean, it will be two years that I have been cancer free. My surgeon said this will be a huge milestone in my remission. He rarely, if ever, sees this type of cancer return after two years. I am clinging to this hope.
Today, I am praying not for my life as I did when diagnosed with cancer, but I am praying for the ability to have my face fixed in a way that I will no longer be embarrassed to go out in public or be ashamed of the way I look. I am doing my best to have persistent and believing prayers for the following:
-Wisdom for the doctors to make the best decisions on how to go about fixing my face
-Wisdom for myself to decided what is in my own best interest and the interest of my family
-Peace when the right decisions are made
-A positive outcome after surgery with no complications
-Insurance coverage as much as possible
I was taking a break from blogging so that I may be able to move on in my life. But I did miss it, and feel the need to get my feelings and experiences written down again. It is somehow healing for me and it brings me courage to read the many messages left from my friends, family and people I have never met before. And if my blogging brings hope and healing to anyone out there reading, it gives purpose to my journey.