The hardest day of my life was Good Friday in 1995. In the morning my parents left me in charge of my younger siblings while my mom had her first appointment with an oncologist. When my parents returned home the looks on their faces told me her breast cancer was more serious than expected. My mother, sobbing, went to her bedroom and collapsed on the bed while my father told me that there were multiple lumps and that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. Starting on Monday my mother would undergo 10 rounds of chemotherapy, surgery and 6 weeks of daily radiation.
After a few moments of silence I could hear my mother’s voice from the bedroom. When I walked in I saw she was on the phone with her best friend sharing the terrible news. I climbed onto the bed with her and held her hand that was still wet from her tears. For the next three hours we sat like that as my mom called our family and friends to say “I have cancer.” Hearing those words over and over again they became our litany of lament.
Sitting with my mother in that lament unearthed this deep well of courage that I didn’t know existed within me. It opened up new places in my heart and God rushed in to show me how to be courageous. This courage came from my willingness to sit and share in the vulnerability of tears, anguish and the words “I have cancer.”
—Rev. Sarah van Gulden