Basically a Mermaid

Right, so where do we go from here? Honestly, I don’t know.

I’m guessing you have a lot of questions. I do, too.

“How are you feeling?”…I get this one a lot. Physically, I don’t feel any pain. I’m asymptomatic. In fact, stomach cancer is such a silent killer because you don’t exhibit symptoms until…well until it is too late. So, it’s very good that I’m not feeling any pain. Emotionally?

I’m fine.

I’m fine most days.

I’m fine most of the time.

I’m fine.

Let’s be real – I’m a ticking time bomb. Both physically and emotionally.

I cry, a lot.

But, like a good Southern girl, I do it in the privacy of my shower or on the phone with my mom. There were several weeks where apart from the hours I spent at work, I was crying. It’s a lot to take in. My body is betraying me.

My body that I spend countless hours exercising, primping, and grooming. My body that I fill with organic fruits and vegetables. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t use drugs.

OK, let’s check my heart – I eat a lot of sugar. I’m not perfect. But, I feel like I have held up my end of the bargain. This is something so completely out of my control, something that can not be adjusted by eating healthy or doing 100 burpees (like I’d ever, ha).

So yeah, I feel betrayed. I’m sad. I’m angry. I’m scared. I’m actually really scared.

But, I am also thankful.

I have met some incredible people through this process. When I first learned about the gene mutation, I did a search on Instagram for “#CDH1” and found a young lady who looked about my age and had a Bible verse in one of her photo captions. I sent her a DM and she not only wrote me back but shared her whole story with me. She invited me into her life not only as someone who was going through the same thing but as a friend and someone to walk this path alongside.

Angels, y’all. They are real.

I have an amazing support system, without whom I could not get through the day.

The company I work for is beyond what I could hope or dream of. They are understanding and compassionate towards my situation. What an immense blessing.

My family. I am not the only one in my family with this gene mutation and while I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, I have the immediate support of blood relatives fighting the same struggles. My Dad, for instance.

I hate flying. I do it only for convenience, but I don’t enjoy anything about the process. Especially turbulence. I am the person who jumps and flinches. I should really be sedated. When I’m nervous, I always look at the flight attendants. They work through the bumps and turns. It’s only when the pilot comes on and tells them to take their seat do they stop what they are doing…and that is when I really start to worry.

My Dad is like the pilot. He is calm and steady. He’s not worried, nor is he afraid. When I start to feel afraid, I look at him and how assured he is. No need to sit down and buckle up. Just keep working through the bumps and eventually we will reach clear skies. In my immediate family, it is just the two of us who have the gene…I always knew I was a chip off the block but this is at a different level.

Finally and most importantly, the greatest gift that comes with this challenge is the opportunity for God to show off and for others to see Him through my affliction.

How can I say that? That seems a little holier art thou, yeah? Oh, for sure. Let me be crystal clear – I have been very upset with God lately…and I have told Him. I have stomped my feet and shaken my fists at heaven. I have yelled and growled in anguish. He’s big enough to take it.

This isn’t my first valley to walk through. You aren’t here for that story, so I’ll save you the details. Let’s just summarize and say, it was bad. And, I was arrogant enough to believe that I had already had my share of grief, that my time was coming, and that my mountain top experience was just around the corner. And yet…here we are.

But let me tell you what I learned in the last valley – God. Always. Shows. Up.

Even if it seems like the very last moment.

Faithfulness is part of who God is. It is His character. He can’t not be faithful. It’s impossible. When, in the past, I was so weak and barely had the willpower to get out of bed, I’d smart off to God “if you want me to get up this morning, you are going to have to physically come down from Heaven and move my feet for me”. And, He did. Now, I’m not saying I had a physical face-to-face with God every morning. But, He showed up and He got me through the day.

Because of that experience, I can stand here today, still wandering through the valleys, and saying without sarcasm – I’m fine. Even though I am mad, scared, and totally bummed out. I am fine.

God will show up. He will show off. None of this is a surprise to Him. This isn’t throwing His plan off course. He’s been ready for this since before the world was formed. Take a minute, let that soak in.

Lord, you are my God;

    I will exalt you and praise your name,

for in perfect faithfulness

    you have done wonderful things,

    things planned long ago.

Isaiah 25:1 (NIV)

We all have our own struggles and personal valleys. Whatever you’re walking through, whatever pain you’re feeling, and no matter how oppressive the darkness feels let me encourage you that even if it’s not today, not tomorrow, or the next day – things will get better.

One of my favorite workout classes is called Tabata. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s 7 rounds and each round is 8 sets of 20 seconds all out, 10 seconds rest. It is brutal and pushes me physically and mentally. The most amazing coach teaches this class and he always says “you may have {7,6,5} rounds left to go, but you only have one right in front of you”. Whoa. How applicable not only in the gym but in life? All you can do is what’s in front of you at that moment. And then look back in amazement at what you were able to accomplish. Thanks, Ramey.

All I can currently do is prepare myself for surgery physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The surgery will come. The recovery will come. The new normal will come.

But, it’s not today.

Today I hope I can encourage you with my testimony. Today I can tell you that despite the affliction I feel, I also continue to be comforted by two nail-pierced hands.

If you’re walking through your first valley and can’t get a foothold into God’s faithfulness…if you’re like, hey that’s nice, but I haven’t seen Him show up for me before… just look to the cross, my friend. Before you even knew you needed Him, He was already taking care of you. If that isn’t faithfulness, I don’t know what is.

I’m not saying it is easy. For me, it isn’t even daily. For me, it is a moment-by-moment decision to continually, tearfully, and joyfully lay down my burden at the foot of the cross. I fail…all the time. But every time I drag my burdens and mistakes to Calvary, I am met with wide stretched arms. There’s room at the foot of the cross for every burden and the blood of Jesus washes them away.

Mercy. Grace. Love. That’s Jesus.

Hallelujah, praise the One who set me free

Hallelujah, death has lost its grip on me

You have broken every chain

There’s salvation in Your name

Jesus Christ, my living hope

Living Hope, Phil Wickham

This has been pretty heavy, yeah? So why don’t we leave each other today on a light note?

Fun fact…seahorses do not have stomachs! Seriously. Google it. It’s become a mascot of sorts for the CDH1 gene mutation community.

So really…this is just getting me one step closer to being a mermaid.

Soon, I’ll be *part of that world* (get it?)

If you’ve ever seen Elder Millennial by Iliza: “Je Suis Mermaid”

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

One thought on “Basically a Mermaid

  1. Thanks for sharing your experience. Always know that you’ve got an army of supporters around the country thinking about you and sending positive energy your way. You’ve got this!

    Liked by 1 person

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