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.