My Personal 9/11
Some days you never forget. Just about everyone can tell you where they were during 9/11. I distinctly remember Columbine. And my dad still tells stories of JFK’s shooting. Today is not a day that is remembered by our nation, but it is a day that’s significant for me and my family. It’s one of those days where no matter how many years go by, I will always remember where I was and what happened nine years ago.
My story actually begins at the library. I worked at the public library near my house as a “page” which meant I had the glorified job of arranging books on a cart and then reshelving them. It was a great job with flexible hours, decent pay and amazing coworkers. It was a Tuesday night. I was with my friends (we called ourselves “The A Team”, ) and we were excited this evening because we had the special job of moving the tables and chairs in the childrens’ book area for a speaker. We loved when speakers came. We’d spend at least 30 minutes on unique arrangements for the chairs and table stacking patterns. Anything that could take up extra time, we tried.
As much as I was trying to have fun with our furniture arranging on this evening, I wasn’t feeling it. I was expecting a phone call, and my mind couldn’t stay focused. I couldn’t shake a feeling that something was off. As we finished setting up for the program, I looked up to see my mom & dad coming through the doors. I was surprised to see them since I had two hours of work left. Something was strange though. Their faces verified my anxious feelings. Plus, they looked like death. They met me in the childrens’ area and began to deliver the news.
“We got a call from Dr. T’s office today,” my dad said. “Your mass they found was malignant.”
Dad and Mom looked at me with somber faces, pursed their lips, and anticipated my response. As they began to reach in for instant comfort, the reality that I was a little too young for the disease set in as I asked,
“Malignant? What does that mean?”
They got an even sadder look on their faces.
“It means it’s cancer honey,” Mom said. “Your tumor is cancerous.”
As soon as Mom explained that malignant meant cancer, I felt a heaviness that hasn’t ever completely lifted. I’m sure I began asking many questions they couldn’t answer. We made our way toward the front of the library for my coat and stopped by to tell my boss that I’d be gone for a while. She gave me a big hug and told me not to worry about a thing.
The rest of the evening is a blur, except I remember telling my brother, calling Mike who was at SBU, and having Nick come over to pray with my family that evening. I knew nothing about cancer, except that the only man I knew who had it, died. I knew I should have felt scared, but didn’t fully understand. I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t sure I was upset. I was just numb and confused about what this all meant. At 17, I didn’t have a lot of experience with the disease, nor did I understand its repurcussions. All I knew was that life would be different.
One thing I remember telling Nick that evening was that I was thankful for the opportunity to spice up my testimony. I had always felt I had such a vanilla story of knowing Jesus. I was raised in the church, so my journey was so typical up until then, or so I felt. But this night, when the cancer bomb dropped, I knew my story had changed. While I was unaware of the physical and mental changes, I definitely knew that part of this new diagnosis was spiritual. And my teenage faith automatically put me into the “God’s got a purpose” for this mode that night.
Today I enter my ninth year as a cancer survivor, and I am reminded by my own words back then. No matter what comes – whether it’s a third diagnosis, a complete colon removal, a rough day with olive oil, losing a friend, or just a challenging emotional day, my prayer is that I forever hang on to my own teenage advice and remember God’s got a plan for all of this – and I have to trust that.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
Entry filed under: Colon Stories, Everything Colon. Tags: 9/11, cancer diagnosis, cancer survivor, cancer-versary, colon cancer, James 1:2-4, Jesus, library, malignant, Mike, survivor day, testimony, young cancer survivor, young colon cancer.