The Unknown

The unknown is something we all wonder about, it is something we want answers to. The unknown is frustrating, it discourages, and it is foreign. Struggling with the unknown is very common, for most of us, we go through struggles that we may not know anything about. We are human and ultimately we want answers of what is going on or why it is happening, but that’s the thing, we don’t always get them. As humans, we think we have the answers and we think we have it all together.
I’ve been to plenty of my dad’s oncologist appointments, I’ve heard the answers they give us and I’ve even had the oncologist look my dad in the eye and tell him that he will “never be cancer free.” To be the family that the doctors are talking to, is a whole different ball game. To sit there and hear things like that when all you want to do is get up and scream or run out crying, it is something most people don’t understand. You go home, sit in silence and you break down because you are so scared, you’re honestly just in disbelief. The part that makes you feel most numb, is the part that holds the unknown. The unknown is the part that keeps you wondering what will happen, what if all of this doesn’t work, and every single question you have that doesn’t have an answer.
I’ve really struggled with the unknown, the unknown of cancer. I don’t know why cancer happens, I don’t know why sometimes it shows up and its stage four or whatever stage it might be, I don’t know why there isn’t a cure yet. There’s a lot of things I don’t know, these are all things I constantly ask and research about. One of my best friends is currently struggling with the unknown, she wants answers on why her mom is so sick and what is happening. We are both struggling with the unknown and we are really wrestling it. You would think that me having a sick parent would be a leeway into helping my best friend out, but honestly I can only get her so far before I run out of things to say or do. We may not know why these chronic illnesses are happening to our parents, but one thing we do know is that the power of prayer has gotten us this far.
As human beings, we put limitations on what we allow God to help us with, we tend to put Him into a box and try to fix things by ourselves. It is something that we do very often, especially when going through a trial that we either don’t want to go through or one that we struggle with. We try and tell ourselves that we have got this, that we don’t need any help, but truly, we don’t have this and we do need help. I’m not talking about help from a therapist or your friends, I’m talking about help from something greater than the mountains, something bigger than the trial you’re going through. Our Creator is way bigger than any trial we will ever endure, He is so powerful.
Most people tend to look at me like I’m crazy when I say “all you can do is pray about it” or “be constant in prayer.” Honestly when you hear that, sometimes you’re like “okay I get it, but seriously what else can I do, come on there has to be a different answer.” But truly, there is nothing else you or any other human being can do. Prayer is a gift from God, it is communication with our Creator. Our communication with God is so incredibly important, it is so powerful, it can move mountains, it can comfort, heal and change hearts. The Word of God is full of ways that the power of prayer has been described, it has conquered death, brought healing, overcome enemies, defeated demons, and is constantly doing these things. When we pray, we are talking with God, we are inviting Him to step into our lives
It has been nearly a year since my dad was diagnosed with cancer and we have gone through some of the worst times we will ever endured. In February, we were told that my dad was misdiagnosed and that he was actually stage 3, for us this was the most amazing news we had received in months. In June, my dad was put on pills and his cancer has reduced by unimaginable numbers. For me, there is only one explanation: God. Sometimes we tend to forget that He has everything planned out, that He has walked before us.
Prayer is something that we all downplay, we do not understand the actual power of it, we think just because it doesn’t work right away that it doesn’t work at all. Just because something doesn’t work away, doesn’t mean that God doesn’t hear us, prayer is something that we should all be persistent with. He created prayer for us to be able to personally talk to Him and with His eternal realities, at anytime of the day or night. My friends, constantly be in prayer, constantly pursue the Lord and constantly trust in Him. It will amaze you how powerful our God is and how mighty He is. In the midst of trials, my only advice is to be in communication with our Creator.

The Journey Continues

       The journey continues, it has been three months since we started this fight against cancer and we will continue to fight. If I was asked three months ago where I thought we would be on this day, I honestly don’t think I could’ve even given you an answer. Over the past three months, I have learned so much about strength, comfort, how to rely solely on the Lord, and so many other things.
      Watching someone you love fight for their life every single day is one of the hardest things to go through, but majority of the time it doesn’t even feel real. It feels like you’re living in a dream and that the dream is never ending. You feel numb, you feel so confused, you feel so many different emotions but honestly, most of your feelings cannot be explained. Some days you don’t even know how you feel and other days you feel sad. The worst days are the days when reality hits and it sinks in that some peoples worst nightmare is your everyday reality. Its a journey, a journey that feels like it will go on forever, I don’t think that I’ve had a day where I could just sit back and relax. I’ve cried more in the past three months than I have in the past year, I have these sleepless nights where all I can think about is the stupid word “cancer”. Sometimes I even have dreams (well you could call them nightmares) that my dad gets diagnosed with cancer or that he is completely healthy, and I wake up hoping that him having cancer is fake or that he is actually a hundred percent healthy. There are so many emotions, so many good days and bad days, and so many things that come with the word cancer that you don’t know about until it comes into your life.
      There are a lot of things people say when someone goes through a tough trial, but one of the worst things that someone can say is “I understand” or “I get it” or “I know how you’re feeling”. I get that it’s a simple thing to say because you may think it comforts the person, but it doesn’t. You may think you know how I feel but you don’t how I feel, you don’t know what I go through everyday, you don’t know what it is like to be in my shoes day in and day out. This whole thing has been a roller coaster, it has its ups and downs. Yes, I get that you may think that you know, but the truth is that you’re looking from the outside in and I am on the inside looking at the inside, they’re completely different point of views. Many families have had their life changed because of cancer, I have many friends who have gone through this trial or are going through it right now, we have some of the same feelings but not all the same. Every cancer fight is different, we may all be impacted by the same word and our lives change but we are not impacted in the same way.
     At the start of this, I had no idea what God was doing, but I’ve learned that He knows what He is doing.  Months ago, I would’ve asked “why God, why is this happening and why cancer?” But instead of asking Him why, I’ve learned to ask “okay God, how are you going to use this through me?” I’ve been able to see a glimpse of how He is using me through this trial. Over the last couple months, I’ve been able to share the gospel with so many different people. I’m not saying that to say “oh look at Helen”, I’m saying that to say look at what He is doing. He has taken this life altering trial and has used me through it to share His word.
    I get asked all the time about my strength, “how is Helen so strong?” I get told all the time that I’m strong, but truly I’m not strong, not at all. The only reason I seem strong or it even looks like I have my life together, is simply because He is strong within me. To tell you the truth, I feel weak ninety percent of the time but when I am weak, He is strong. When I feel strong, He is even stronger. I get all of my strength through Him. His word is what I lean on, it is what gets me through everyday, and it is the only thing that can truly comfort me. His word reminds me everyday that I am loved, that I am not alone, and that He is bigger than the word “cancer”.
    Looking back over the last three months, I have learned to go back to His word and how to rely solely on it. Going through a big trial like this is hard, it’s hard to not be afraid of the suffering you will endure. We all fear what is coming upon us, what we are going to go through in the future, but one thing we should realize is that suffering is apart of the blessing. We shouldn’t fear suffering because it is a time when you get to know certain parts of Jesus that you’ve never seen before, once you feel those parts and taste the closeness with Him, you won’t ever want to trade it for the smooth path. Just because you are Christian or accept Christ doesn’t stop bad things from happening, we suffer certain things because we are living in obedience to Christ. When we go through suffering, we are experiencing the same feelings that Jesus had experienced. Not that any of us want to go through the pain or anything, but just the simple fact that we through these trials to become more like Jesus. Not only do we become more like Jesus, but we also get to catch a small glimpse of the Grace He has on all of us.
    On December 22nd, we got the results from my dads re scans. I had no idea what to expect, my biggest fear was that the oncologist would tell us that the cancer had spread. I waited all day for the phone call from my dad, I had so many mixed emotions, but I was ready for whatever was going to be thrown our way. At 5:23pm, my dad called. He told me that not only was his chemotherapy working, but fifty percent of his cancer had been reduced everywhere! We would continue two more cycles of chemotherapy, have more re scans and then go from there. I was overwhelmed with so many emotions, I was so happy but also had this feeling of sadness come across me. I sat on the phone with my best friend and just cried, I didn’t know where this sadness came from because we had just gotten the news that we wanted to hear. As I sat with Hannah, we just looked at each other and cried. I cried and thought about it for a long time, but I didn’t cry because of the news, I cried because reality hit me again. I had so many people tell me “you should be happy” and you can bet your butt I was so so so happy, but that reality of my dad still having cancer hit hard. He still has cancer, he still has to get up everyday and fight for his life, he still has to go through chemotherapy. The word cancer is still in my life and we are still in a war against it, but the war is being won by us and the cancer is retreating.
    There are times where I don’t want to go through this trial, moments where I want to give up, and sometimes I feel as if I cannot get through another day. Those are the moments where I have truly gotten to know parts of Jesus that I didn’t know about and that is something I am thankful for. As much as I hate going through this and wouldn’t wish it upon anybody, I am thankful for this hard time and that He is using me through it.  So at the end of the day, keep climbing. It may get hard, it may get uncomfortable, it may be scary but just keep climbing. The bruises and bumps you get along the way to the top help you grow. You may shake, you may even fail, but these tough trials shape us in unimaginable ways. We have a God that won’t abandon us in hard times and He is WAY bigger than cancer, and that is something to be thankful for!!

One word

        A word, a single word can change everything. Have you ever felt your stomach turn to knots when you hear a certain word? Feel nauseous because of a word? Ever had a word flip your entire world upside down? Or maybe the word changes everything that you know to be normal in your life? That word for me, is the word Cancer. Cancer is a very powerful word, it can mean life or death, it makes everyone feel differently, whether they’ve been directly affected by it or not. It’s the disease that doesn’t have a cure but is the disease living inside of millions as we speak, including the man who has raised me.
       The word cancer has come into many people’s lives, it has either taken away from them, made them fight, and/or made them stronger. Cancer rudely enters your life and your home, it assaults, attacks, and arrogantly changes the way of life you previously enjoyed.  Although cancer is a word that destroys, it is a word that brings out the best in people. Through this journey so far, I’ve been able to see who my real support system is, I’ve been able to find peace and comfort through God, and I’ve grown up.
       A little over a month ago, my dad started to get sick. We didn’t think it was anything more than a cold, he went to the doctor and was told he had pneumonia. Pneumonia can kill people, make them very sick, and it can also be very serious. This went on for about two to three weeks, I never really expected it to be anything more, I thought that maybe the antibiotics weren’t working. Saturday September 17th, I looked up to see what pneumonia could turn into and cancer was one of the first things I read, I knew my dad kept going to doctor appointments but I didn’t know what they were for. I figured if there was anyone who knew, it was my eldest brother. I decided to ask my brother if my dad had cancer, his reply was yes that he did but we had no idea what kind or stage, I honestly didn’t believe him and I didn’t want to. The following Tuesday, I went to dinner with my dad and right before we left my house, I asked how his doctor appointments had been going. He told me he knew that I knew about his cancer, he told me “Don’t worry, I am going to beat this, my last name is Bayliss.” I didn’t want to believe it, I didn’t ever think I would hear those words come out of my dads mouth. The word cancer had abruptly entered my life and I didn’t know if I was ready. Thursday, September 22nd was the day, it was the day that left me in complete shock, it was the day my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 Adenocarcinoma cancer. The cancer had not only been in his lungs, but he also had a tumor on his right lung and it had spread into the lymph nodes in his chest. He would start treatment once every three weeks for the next three months, then he would have all the scans and tests redone.
       I immediately felt like my life was a dream, someone could pinch me but it would still fell like a dream. I had no words and neither did the people around me. I never thought that the word cancer would come into my life during my senior year. I never thought that some people’s worst nightmare of cancer would become my every day reality. I never thought I would have to adapt to a new normal. I knew that nothing in my house would be the same, that this would have a huge impact my family and bring us closer together. But what I didn’t know is how it would make me feel, I didn’t know that reality would hit at random times, I didn’t know how many tears I truly had, I didn’t know how my best friends would react, and I didn’t know how much I would feel His presence.
       I will admit that I struggle, that I try to hold myself together, and that this is waaaay harder than I thought it would be. I’ve had nights where I sit in my room and cry, I have random breakdowns. There is absolutely nothing anyone can say to make me feel better or take it away, it just sucks. There is only one thing I have found peace and comfort in, and that is The Truth. No one in my life truly knows what to say, but that’s a reason why God is God and they are not. The Lord is our friend, He is my best friend. He is way better at giving advice than anyone ever will be, He is the greatest friend you will ever have. The Lord doesn’t leave us is in hard times. The verses I have leaned on are Deuternonmy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” & Hosea 2:14, “Therefore, behold, I will lure her and bring her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” God will pull us out into the wilderness where it is easy to think He will abandon us, but the wilderness is where He speaks tenderly to us and where we get to know Him intimately. Things will get hard and we go through tough trials, but He does not leave us. I’ve learned that our God, is a God of peace. Ephesians 2:14 “For He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” He is our peace. The only thing that can comfort you is not the boy or girl, it’s not your parents, it’s not your best friends, the only thing that can comfort you and I, is God. Peace and comfort are only found in Him. Through this time of struggle, God has covered up all of the anger, sadness, and confusion I’ve had. He has not failed me and He has not left me, He never will. God fills the void in my heart, He is the reason I get through everyday, He is the reason I have so much strength, He is the reason that the word Cancer has nothing on me or my family. It’s God, my family, and my friends vs Cancer and Cancer won’t win.
      So far my dad has gone through two rounds of chemotherapy and still stands strong like a solider. We have no idea if the chemotherapy is actually working, we won’t know until after his fourth round. He has been fighting night and day, he wont give up until he wins. Some days he looks sick and some days he doesn’t, we have our good days and we have our bad days. I wake up every day and I wish it was me sick instead of him, I wish it was all just a dream, but its not. The nightmare of the word Cancer, is my reality. I hear the word Cancer and I feel nauseous, I feel my stomach turn into knots, it is the word that has taken everything I know to be normal and changed it. I have grown up, I have to take my dad to the store, pick up his medicine, help make dinner, simply because the word Cancer has come into my life.
      I hate the word Cancer, I hate every single thing about it, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. Cancer is not welcomed but it comes anyways. There’s one thing I have to say to Cancer- lace up your boxing gloves and get ready to fight because my Dad is coming for you and you won’t win.