June tenth of two thousand and nineteen I got a text that changed my whole life forever.
"I got the results back."
I slumped down against the wall to the floor of the Orangetheory bathroom and closed my eyes for a few seconds before I asked what the results were. My heart was racing and I held my breath. I prayed and pressed send and kept repeating in my head. "God is still good no matter what. God is still good no matter what. God is still good no matter what."
But please God. Please let the results be negative. Please let this be strep throat or tonsillitis or some big massive fluke. Please let this be a crazy story we tell everyone about on our summer break. Let it be the crazy story where the doctors thought Mason maybe could have had cancer but they were totally wrong and he was okay and summer went on to be fun and perfect and our biggest problem was fitting all of our suitcases in the car on the way to the family vacation.
But then I got the answer. The results came back positive for cancer.
Mason had cancer.
Mason, my handsome boyfriend of almost five years, the love of my life, my whole everything, had cancer.
I had to keep saying it to myself to understand it was real. He has cancer. This is real life. Mason has cancer.
I paced around the bathroom trying to walk through the next steps in my head and map it all out:
People with cancer get chemo so he'll probably go in every few weeks and get some chemo and maybe radiation. Maybe he will have to go to one of those cancer clinics. Maybe he'll lose his hair. Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Little did any of us know, within the next 14 hours Mason would be rushed to the ER, life-lighted to a hospital 4 hours away, and would start chemo that night. Mase had stage four sparatic Burkitt Lymphoma. We wouldn't find out until weeks later from his oncologist that Mason had only hours to live unless he was treated with chemo as soon as possible.
I drove up to the hospital he was life-flighted to, with my mom, and I started into survival mode. There was no room to feel or think or eat. Just stay alive and get to Mason.
I realized there was literally nothing I could possibly do in the entire universe but pray.
I listened to "What a Friend we have in Jesus" by Aretha Franklin, the gospel song "You" by Snoop Dog, "Not Today Satan" by KB, and "Because He Lives" by Rev. Cleophus Robinson over and over and over and over until we got there. Just survive.
When I got to the hospital and finally got to Mason, he was just about ready to start chemo and he was literally barely hanging on to life.
I sat in a chair across from his bed and tried to say something remotely encouraging.
"Good job babe, you can do it."
"You're doing awesome Mase."
"You did great babe, I'm so proud of you"
What do you even say to someone getting chemo? I definitely didn't know, and still don't know that there's anything anyone could possibly say. But, I promised myself right there that no matter what, that I was there for his first chemo treatment and I would absolutely be there with him when he got his last.
If you've ever had someone you love go through cancer, serious illness, disease, or pain, you know the feelings and thoughts I'm about to describe.
You start pleading with God, "Please just let it be me. Let me switch places with him and let me do this instead. I will do anything in the world if you let it be me instead of him."
And, "Please God, let this be a mistake. Let them walk in and say that it was all a misunderstanding and let us walk out and hold hands and drive away to never come back here."
And, "God I just pray for one more second. I pray for one more second with him, one more moment with him, one more of his laughs, one more of his dad jokes, one more hug, one more drive, one more 'I love you', one more God.
Please, God. Please."
And if you're familiar with these prayers and pleads you are also familiar with the gut wrenching feelings that follow. Your heart breaks over and over and over, every time you see their pain. Your body physically hurts because the person you love more than anything in the world is sick and there isn't one thing you can do for them.
You leave to cry in the hospital bathroom 10 times a day and feel anxiety creep over you and sit on your chest like a bag of bricks.
The night before Mason was diagnosed, I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. I listened to gospel music, I read every verse I could think of that had to do with faith, and I texted everyone I knew to pray for Mason's diagnosis. I kept reading Matthew 17:20, "He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here' to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
I told God, "I have faith that tomorrow the results will be negative. I promise I have faith. Help me have faith."
I had no idea what would happen or the long summer that was ahead of Mase, but I absolutely, without a single doubt knew God was telling me, "Keep having faith. Mason will be healed. Have faith in my promises. Have faith in Me."
I took that as a Mason will get a negative test result and his tonsillitis will go away, not a Mason has cancer but have faith that I will heal him. As you can imagine, that was not the answer I wanted or expected. But, I remembered the last time I had walked through a devastating life event and chose not to trust God and how lonely, destructive, and painful it was, so I decided my odds were better if I decided to stick with the God of the universe this time.
This sounds like a simple, cute, easy thing you can just say and do but I promise you, and as I'm sure you are well aware, this is one of the most difficult decisions you can choose to make.
I had a promise from God that He would heal Mason, and not everyone gets that.
Not everyone gets a promise of healing, not everyone that has faith is healed. Not everyone that trusts God is healed of cancer. Not everyone that says "God I'll do it your way" will get to walk out of a hospital room with the person they love. And truly I don't know why. No one does.
And I don't know why God said yes to my prayers. I don't know why He blessed us with the gift of healing Mason. I don't why Mason got a highly treatable cancer.
And honestly, I don't know the heart-wrenching and devastating feelings of pain and confusion people feel when they choose to say "Yes God I trust you still. You still are good" when God says no. All I can speak from is what God said to me.
It's easy to say the words, but it's hard to follow through when you're scared. It's hard to trust God when the love of your life is coughing up blood and can't lift his head or hold your hand. It's hard to trust when your heart hurts so much you don't want to get out of bed. But trusting God is the only thing you can do.
You can take it all on yourself, you can play the fears over and over in your head, you can try to think up impossible solutions that don't exist, and you can hold it all in and bottle it up inside. That's a very real option, but the truth is it's counterfeit. You can trick yourself into believing you're in control and take in on by yourself, you can worry until you throw up, but whether or not you admit it to yourself, God is in control. God is in control regardless of what you choose to believe or not believe. This is His world. He is God. He is calling the shots. You can try to stop a car by being a backseat driver, you can stand in front of it and try to push it back, you can point where you want it to go, but unless you're driving, you have no control of the car. God was the driver and I could put myself through the unnecessary pain of trying to push a car around, or I could just get in the passenger seat. Trust me when I say I learned that from experience.
So I got in.
For me, once I realized that, everything changed.
I realized I could let the fears control my every move, I could believe the lies Satan was trying to sell me, and "carry the burden myself" but all that was was nonsense that I was lying to myself about because I wanted to feel like I was the one pulling the strings. But no matter how hard I tried or how much I lied to myself, God was in control and lying about my control and making myself feel more authoritative on the situation was not helpful, not practical, and was definitely not trusting God. If I had to coerce my subconscious into believing something false to give my trust to God, I wasn't really trusting God. And, it helped me get a grip on faith. Let me tell you, I had all kinds of misunderstandings and messed up ideas about faith. But, I started grasping that faith isn't expecting nothing from God, saying I trusted Him, and then being surprised if He answered my prayer. Faith is saying I trust you completely and my confidence resides in you regardless of any other person or circumstance. I realized that faith isn't realistic because God isn't realistic. God holds reality in His hands, and if He says yes, literally no one can say no.
Faith wasn't believing that God would take Mason's cancer away just because I believed He would; Faith was recognizing the circumstances, understanding Mason had cancer, and saying, "God I believe you can and will heal Mason from cancer and I will trust you through the process."
I could choose to pray, I could choose to give the God of the universe all of my cares and burdens, I could choose to cast allllll of my cares on Him, or I could literally forfeit my peace and needlessly carry it around.
When I say I prayed all day, I prayed alllll day. Especially the first week Mason was getting treated. Somedays all I could do to get through the day was listen to Aretha again singing "What a friend we have in Jesus" on repeat and walk around the hospital in my fuzzy slides for hours praying for Mason, praying for his strength, his healing, his body, his mind, cursing cancer in the name of Jesus, and praying to just make it through the next five minutes. I screenshot-ed verses about trust, worry, healing, faith, love, and would sit and read through them 100 times over. Faith isn't just a one time decision you make and then you're locked in and good to go forever, happily ever after, it's all roses now. Trusting God is a decision you have to make constantly. Sometimes every hour, every second, every breath.
Right away, when the doctors were able to identify that Mason had Burkitt Lymphoma, they gave a report for a very positive outlook. Burkitt Lymphoma has an over 90% cure rate and Mason's doctors were confident from the beginning, but warned about the extremely intense chemotherapy regimen. They planned four cycles of chemotherapy in three months. They explained it as "throwing the everything and the kitchen sink" at it. Mase went on to get multiple chemos everyday for one to two weeks at a time. After each chemo cycle, they let his body build up the minimal amount of blood cells, white blood cells, neutrophils, etc. give him blood products if he didn't have enough, and then hit the cancer again as hard as they could with chemo and the cycle continued. Mason handled every second like an absolute champ. He was brave, he was calm, he was kind and loving even when everyone around him was absolutely losing it. He made his nurses laugh even on his hardest days. He seriously killed it.
On September the thirteenth of two thousand and nineteen, Mason rang the bell in the hospital cancer clinic and walked away after hearing the official confirmation that his cancer was gone and he was in remission.
I know without a doubt that Mason is alive because of God and His love and mercies. I know Mason is here today because of the prayers of his family in Christ from all around the world. I know that the doctors flew him to a hospital four hours away while he was dying, with hours to spare, because God's hand was at work.
I couldn't explain to you how or why, but I know for a fact that God has, is, and will use it for His glory.
When you're so close to losing someone you love, everything changes.
When you turn from your problems being what latte to get during your break at your job where you sell people $300-a-month gym memberships, to praying your loved one survives, your perspective gets a reality check.
Every second becomes a gift. Every laugh they laugh is a "Praise God". Every hug and kiss is the best moment of your life. You thank God for their silly dad jokes and crazy stories and every moment you get. Even when you're frustrated or annoyed, you are thankful that you have them and wake up grateful to God that they're alive.
Problems become nothing because at least you're alive.
Every time someone gets your order wrong or is rude at Target or you feel like complaining about your job you remember that you're alive, you have air in your lungs and a life God has given you and pray for those who are still sitting in the hospital room and cannot leave.
I can't explain why Mase was healed. I can't tell you why he got Burkitt Lymphoma or is where he is today. All I can do is share the story and tell you this:
Thank Him everyday.
Thank Him for every breath and every single thing He has given you.
Turn to Him when your heart is shattered and there is no hope.
Love to the absolute fullest.
Do what you love.
Don't waste your time, it's so brief and short.
Hug your family. Kiss your loved ones. Tell them how much you love them every single day.
Don't let your spilled coffee or late Uber or slow internet waste a moment of your time or energy, but instead thank God you live where you do and have money for Starbucks and that you have 8 minutes to share God's love with a random stranger Uber driver and that you have a phone that gets slow internet.
Live your life to the fullest you can for God and love those around you like He loves you.