Maybe a week after Beau’s accident a friend of mine sent me a message. ” Heidi, you should tell your story.” I didn’t even know she knew the story. You see a lot of people, people I know well don’t know this story. But come to find out she was at church the Sunday I shared. It was the only time I shared in a big group setting…because to be honest, I’m not a public speaker. People laugh when I say that and don’t believe me because of my job where I’m always in front of people.. Yeah, serving coke and peanuts at 35,000 feet is not like speaking in front of people….WAY different. But it’s a great story and one that should be told more often. Especially when we aren’t feeling hopeful of situations or hopeful that God is hearing our prayers, but he is. I am thankful that Ang already knew this story before Beau’s accident. Because it’s a story of hope, God’s grace and healing. I have been wanting to share this story with Marybeth , because she is in need of hope too. This story was meant to be shared but it’s way out of my comfort zone to share something so intimate. But sometimes we are pulled to share, God calls us to do things that make us uncomfortable and that’s what he is doing here. Ok,so maybe he has been encouraging me to share for a long time now but I wasn’t listening. So bare with me because this story is a long one and I’m a little scared and uncomfortable, so I am doing it in parts. Thanks for the encouragement Julianne, because of your encouragement, I’m finally writing my story…. here it goes!
Jake was almost a year old and Madi was turning 5 in a few months. My husband, Doug was just about to be furloughed from his airline job, it’s how things were going post 911 in the airline industry so it wasn’t unexpected. But to be quite honest , I was kind of mad about it. I was irritated that I had to go back to work full time when I had a young baby at home. I mean in our 10 years of marriage we had already moved 8 times for Doug’s job, including Madi and I commuting to Las Vegas every week so I could fly out of Seattle. It was a crazy time and looking back I’m not sure how we did it. I know how to work. I know how to pull up the boot straps and forge ahead. I’ve done it many times and almost welcome adversity as a challenge like a steep climb on a bike. How well and how gracefully can I conquer this? is usually my attitude, but not this time. I had been pretty sick, I had pnemonia for a few weeks and didn’t seem to be improving at all. Good friends of ours Nancy and Andy were over for fireworks on the 4th of July, Andy was my doctor at the time and he wasn’t impressed by my lack of improvement. So with a little nagging he got me back into his office for a follow up the next day. After an x-ray I waited in his office for what I knew he was going to already say. He would tell me my pnemonia was not better and we would change steroids and antibiotics. But, I was wrong, what came out of his mouth was nothing short of shocking. In his calm doctor voice he said I had masses on my lungs and with some testing we would figure out what they were. But I already had an idea….”So let me guess “, I said, “I have breast cancer that has spread to my lungs”. My mom died at 40 from breast cancer so it was already words I was dreading to hear one day. This was the day. He said he didn’t know but in a few weeks we would have more answers. A few weeks? with masses on my LUNGS a few weeks? I left his office scared and mad. I was too young to die, I had two small children who needed their mom. 33 years old is too young to leave your family….But my next instinct was to pray, on my knees kind of praying.
The next day I had a mammogram. it confirmed my worst fears. I had a lump on my breast, which meant I must have cancer that started in my breast and metastasized to my lungs. Just what I had thought. So that afternoon, I came home and told my husband we needed to call all of our friends and ask them to pray, for complete healing. I said I wasn’t doing cancer and God can take care of this. I knew even though he didn’t save my mom’s life, he is still a healer and could heal mine. That weekend was long and good and bad. I sat with my kids and cried knowing what it’s like to be a teen without a mom, an adult without a mom and I wanted more for them. They deserved better than that. So we prayed and others prayed and we waited for the weekend to be over so I could get more testing done. Sunday morning my friend’s mom called, she asked how I was doing. I told her I had some of the best sleep of the weekend between 2 and 5 am the night before. She chuckled and said, “huh, that’s funny because neither Graham nor I could sleep so we were up praying for you….between 2 and 5 am.” God was already taking care of me. This was so encouraging, it brought me peace. At one point during the weekend my family was gone and it was just me in the house. I was doing chores and praying as I went. Then I spoke out loud….I told Satan to leave my house, to get out and leave my family alone. He did NOT belong here. I am a daughter of Christ and he has no place in this space… You see Satan is just as real as God. I had never talked to Satan before but I was so convicted I needed to tell him to get out of our lives and never come back.
My doc Andy told me this was all going to take a few weeks to figure out. I knew I didn’t have a few weeks to mess around with the possibility of cancer. I’m a mom, we had things to do. Like live life. I prayed not only for complete healing but I asked for quick answers. I felt a little selfish and guilty with so many requests , but I asked anyway. It was on my heart so I just asked. So the next week was filled with doctor appointments. Including the pulmonologist. He was a nice man, a friend of Andy’s from med school. He sat and chatted with me about their history and had the same lovely bedside manner that Andy brought to his practice. I felt at home and loved the stories he told me of when they were my age. But then he looked at my x-rays and he got very serious. I wasn’t prepared for what he told me next. He said I had the lungs of someone who had been smoking my entire life. All 33 years of it. I shook my head and laughed at the thought. You see I had tried a cigarette once or twice, ok well it was clove cigarettes because a friend and I thought it might be cool. But it wasn’t and we felt horrible. But i was mostly irritated that that was the worst I had ever done and my lungs were all messy for smoking clove cigarettes on one occasion? Wow , what a great PSA I was about to be. “One cigarette will take your life, Look at Heidi”. I even voiced this to the doctor including a ” I have never even smoked pot and this is what I get ?” Does that even seem fair? Ya , well, life isn’t fair. I already knew that. So we continued to pray. God is good and no cancer is too big for him. I know God can do anything. I mean if he is the creator of all can’t he be the healer of all?
After that weekend of lots of prayers I was headed back for a second mammogram. I felt confident and reassured that I had been healed. No flash of lightening, no voice from God saying ,”Heidi, you are healed”, I just felt it. The nurse led me back and said, “welcome back Heidi, looks like we are doing a follow up from last week?” My reply were not words I had planned or thought of myself…they just came out….”Yes, but don’t worry, you won’t find any thing there “. She looked at me like I was crazy and asked if I had talked to my doctor yet. I answered that I had and they are pretty sure I have breast cancer that metastasized to my lungs. But I said. ” I have a feeling I it’s not going to be there today.” She replied with a smile and said,”let’s have a look”. She proceeded to take a picture in the most uncomfortable position a woman can be, I am guessing. I mean whose idea was this machine that we are so blessed to have as a tool but it looks and feels like some midieval torture device? So she gets all tiny of me squished as most uncomfortable as she can and takes a few pictures. She heads off to the little developing room, yes this was a few years ago and now it’s all computer generated. She popped her head out and said I need to show these to the radiologist before you go, I think we need new pictures but I want to make sure. I smiled as she headed out the door, you see God was already healing my body. So of course she came back and I was full of questions…”You couldn’t see it , could you?” , I asked. She explained sometimes things hide. For those who know me, there isn’t a whole lot of room in this chest for “things to hide”. I suddenly became proud of the barely B cup I used to be unimpressed with. I was now fully impressed because although they were tiny and I was pretty certain they were cancer free, I just needed one more picture to prove it.