IGNORANCE IS BLISS?
September 11, 2019
BY MISSY BEAVERS
So….Willie may have cancer…again.
The preliminary results from the tumor biopsy are suggesting a Myeloid Sarcoma which would indicate a relapse of the leukemia he had 7 years ago. This is puzzling to all the oncologists we have consulted with thus far because it never occurs this long after a bone marrow transplant.
The cancer itself is rare, only 2 in a million cases.
I’ve always known Willie is special, but this is NOT the type of lottery you want to win.
Today we went to Stanford in hopes of getting more answers. We met with a new doctor who is a specialist in the form of Leukemia Willie had. He is a tall man, with a quirky smile that bounced light off of the walls of the small exam room. His presence oozed optimism and I found myself feeling better with every word he said.
Fun fact: his undergraduate degree is in romance languages and he worked at Sesame Street in New York City.
C is for Cancer
His drew us a simple explanation of the possible treatments we may encounter based on the results of further testing, then sent us on our way to get a PET scan and bone marrow biopsy.
The PET scan was uneventful, but took longer than expected and we were late for our final appointment at the cancer center. When we arrived, they hurried us down the long hall into a room that we have frequented too many times to count in the past. This was a place I thought we would never have to return to, but there we were, sitting in the pale yellow box that hasn’t aged at all in the past 6 years.
The nurse came in and explained what a bone marrow biopsy is. This is his 8th biopsy so we didn’t need an in-depth description on how she would use an electric drill to burrow a hole in Willie’s hip and suck out his bone marrow. Nope, we are fully aware of this procedure which is perhaps the closest thing to medieval torture that exists in western medicine….but I digress!
This biopsy was different than anything he’s ever had because she had to go in 3 separate times, drilling 3 separate holes to get 3 separate samples.
Willie handled it like champ, but I was completely blindsided by emotion at the end. I haven’t shown any of my feelings in the previous 7 biopsies because I believed that I needed to be strong for Willie and that vulnerability was weakness.
I have been learning that the complete opposite of this is true.
Feeling our feelings and being vulnerable in sharing them is where our power lies!
I felt a feeling so big that is burst out of me in giant, ugly-cry tears. Like gasping for air in a hospital bathroom kind of tears. I let myself feel 7 years of pain, panic, anxiety, fear and it felt like it was going to swallow me whole.
They say that ignorance is bliss and all I could think about in that moment was how desperately I wished that I was ignorant to all of this pain:
- I wished I didn’t know the terminology or lingo tied to a leukemia diagnosis.
- I wished I had never heard the sound of power drill going into my husband’s hip bone or become familiar with the tensing of every muscle in his body when his marrow is sucked from his hips.
- I wished we weren’t currently in the panic of sorting out how to balance parenthood and cancer.
- I wished for the bliss that would come from being ignorant to all of this!
But here’s the reality: all of these things are happening and my pain is coming from the thought that I wish things could be different.
That thought made me feel victimized, and angry which led to the ugly-cry situation.
And there is NOTHING wrong with that!
It’s OK to feel bad feelings and have big emotions. I felt the depth of them in that hospital bathroom.
I had a decision to make: I could keep believing the thought and feel angry and fearful or choose a new thought that will serve me better.
Willie and I talked about ignorance on our drive home. Cancer stole our ignorance from us, but it hasn’t taken our bliss! Cancer has brought us knowledge of pain, depression, anxiety, fear, and uncertainty and in return it has allowed us to feel joy, bliss, hope, peace, happiness and gratitude.
Thus, bliss isn’t a bi-product of ignorance, but rather from experiencing the pain of despair that makes us appreciate the joy and hope that is encompassed in bliss.
Being acquainted with trial is bliss!
But why am I sharing this experience with you? Why does any of this matter?
We have been reading in 2 Corinthians this past week and I feel that Paul’s words speak for us:
Chapter 1 verse 8-9 says “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our troubles in Asia (or our case, Stanford!) that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.
But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raised the dead.”
Just like Paul, I share our struggles and emotions of this trial with you to direct our trust and faith toward God. Unfortunately, we don’t get to pick our trials in this life, but we do get to choose how we think about these struggles which impacts how we feel and act.
Speaking of God, Paul adds “Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us.”
This verse is so beautiful! It teaches the perfect truth that Jesus Christ has delivered us it the past, he is delivering us NOW, and he will deliver us in the future.
I admit, I have been guilty of viewing this deliverance as something that happened in the past and an event that will be available in the future, but I neglect that fact that it is AVAILABLE in abundance RIGHT NOW!
I accessed that grace today when I changed my thoughts from wishing for a different situation to absolutely adoring the circumstance I am in.
Everything we need is available to us, RIGHT NOW! God is guiding our path and will continue to care for us with the same love and devotion he has always shown to us.
Please note, our trial is not bigger, harder, or more important than any other trial that anyone else is experiencing. We each have struggles and pain that are tailored for us and our growth. The blessing of these challenges comes in tasting the bitter so we know the sweet.
By ditching the ignorance in lieu of feeling all of the hard and ugly feelings, we experience true bliss!