The Aftermath

Photo Credit: Gregory Barnum (Creative Commons License) 
It has now been just over a year since I was told my cancer is in remission. However my family and I are still healing. There is an emotional and psychological impact to a trauma, such as dealing with a family member's battle with cancer, that continues to persist even when the trauma itself is apparently over.

The photo above was taken in the city of New Orleans several months after the devastating hurricane Katrina struck in 2005. It is a fantastic visual metaphor of what I am wanting to say in this post - it takes a long time to deal with the debris of a catastrophic event, even when the event itself ended some time ago.

Being Optimistic and Realistic

A few months ago now my wife and I reached a point where my realism crashed into her optimism.

It was painful and tearful.

Since my remission she had been clinging on to her belief that God had healed me totally and completely. I fully believe that if God wants to do this, he can and he will (and maybe already has), but I am in the strange position that I will never know!

If I am indeed healed, the cancer will never come back and something else will end my life. But I won't know this until my life has ended, or indeed until (and if) my cancer returns - which is what the doctors predict will happen.

My wife and I have now come to a place where we can hold our belief and trust in God and his possibility of healing me in tension and balance with the possibility that God may not choose to heal me and my cancer will return one day.

This seems to be our new 'normal'.

Angry Love

Illness has also pressed some new buttons for us.

I find I catch illnesses more easily than I did before the cancer and the chemo.

Ever since my battle with cancer, whenever I get ill (recently it was with a rather nasty cold that was doing the rounds) my wife has reacted rather strangely.

A whole mix of emotions come to the surface including:

Anger 

Anger that I am ill again, and she really doesn't want to loose me. I get cross with her as I feel she doesn't really want to acknowledge that I am ill and doesn't show much sympathy, but she is just trying to deal with her emotions and cope with the situation.

Fear

Afraid that the cancer might return again one day. Fear that I will die and leave her and my lovely little girls behind. Also a fear that we may have to go through the trauma and treatments and pain all over again.

These are some of the effects of the devastation we are navigating at this time. I am sure more will surface in the months and years to come.

As we talk things through and pray about what's going on things are getting better. Healing is coming both emotionally and psychologically. But it is taking a long time.


How about you?

How has the aftermath of a trauma in your life affected you and those you love after the event?

What did you do to get through it?

I would love to read your comments below. Thanks for reading.

Comments

  1. Hi Matt ,
    I’m sorry I couldn’t visit last Oct as I had such a tight schedule visiting cousins & neices I haven’t met for ages !
    Also when we returned to Singapore we witnessed with great pain just what you shared . Our church ( Wesley Methodist) small group leader who struggled with anablastic thyroid cancer succumbed suddenly in 2 1/2 weeks after fighting it for 20 mths . We also thought he had it licked as he looked good ! It was traumatic for his family as he has a teenage autistic son & a normal teenage daughter . We were devastated ...
    however he was prepared for it & fought on till he passed on exactly on his 50th birthday .
    The last 20 mths we witnessed miracles in his treatment though his diagnosis was terminal. We couldn’t fathom why the last miracle was not delivered .
    During the wake we were in awe as each night boys & men from the Boys Brigade ministered to the family . In fact they came daily to the hospital to help also . At least 10 boys & men every night for 3 nights & the funeral day , gave their testimonies of how he ( his name is Kee Hian) took care of them as Brigade Captain through the years. How he moulded then in Christ’s image . How persistent & loving he was to them. Some cried... it was something he never boasted about . In fact at every miracle he experienced, he gave his public testimony unstintingly . It was extremely moving .
    And then we realised that he lived his 50 years full for Christ !
    His family were mainly Taoist & sat stupefied each night as the Boys Brigade came in their uniforms & the grown Brigade members went to the mike to give their moving testimonies . God had a purpose. Kee Hian dearly loved his family & dearly wanted them to know the Lord he loved . Only in such circumstance could his family be moved ... he died so they could know His Lord !

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