I am honored to have one of my most beautiful, faithful, joyful friends, Amy Maiwald share her lived experience with cancer with her beloved husband, and now, their son as part of MHYH’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Series. Amy is as iron to me; she sharpens me. Thank you, dear friend, so sharing your heart through these words with us.
A Firm Place to Stand
“I’m sorry, your child has cancer,” the dreaded words that no parent can ever fathom hearing. The moment was surreal. I dropped to my knees, my arms went numb, and sounds were muffled. I had a hard time understanding or processing words, and yet, the doctor kept talking. Words like pathology report, positive lymph nodes, metastatic, invasive, mitotic rate, no standard treatment available, clinical trials — they were swarming around me in the air like giant black crows. Surely, this was a mistake, the wrong report, not MY child. No, unbelievably, it was my child. My sweet son who would later look at me with eyes pleading, “How can you fix this, Mom?”
The overwhelming feelings of helplessness almost drowned me.
I’m a mom; I’m supposed to protect my child from harm, from anything that can threaten his life. I would gladly give my life for him, transplant that cancer from his body into mine, and yet, I can’t. I can’t do anything to spare him from this journey. What in the world do you do with that state of helplessness?
For me, that helplessness, that out-of-control feeling, it’s an old adversary who returned from the dark places of my mind. I have encountered that emotion face to face far too often. You see, my husband had battled cancer for 16 years and passed away recently, so this state of frailty was familiar to me.
All of my life I had thought that there was something I could “do” to fix things. But in the battle of cancer, I realized that, while there were things I could research, pursue and act upon, ultimately, I needed to surrender.
Now, I faced it as a single parent, a widow, and this was my child who had been through the emotional battle of losing his father also, from the same disease. I felt like the waters of fear were rising and I was already neck deep. I was at the end of myself.
So, here I was again. I reached a place of surrender where I had no answers and felt utterly weak, powerless, desperate. The only place I knew to collapse emotionally was at the feet of the One who created me, the One who knows me fully, loves me, and sustains me: my Savior-Jesus. He earnestly looks at my frailty not as a deficit, but as part of who I am, and He gently lifts my head to uphold me and embrace me. My weakness is the opportunity for His power to work in me.
Jesus says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 — “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Weak, I definitely was, and He willingly imparted to me His strength, His fortitude, to keep walking the road before me.
My life didn’t magically get better — I woke up today and I am still a widow and my son still has cancer, but I can confidently say with the Psalmist in Psalm 40:2 — “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” When my trust and certainty are with my Savior, He walks with me in the mud and mire, and He stands with me in that firm place. His enduring presence and my close relationship with Him, are what emotionally deliver me over and over again from the rising waters of fear, the mud of helplessness, the mire of cancer and whatever may await next. He will faithfully stand with me, guide, and impart hope.
Day 13: Be Encouraged, survivors.
To be encouraged by more of Amy’s lived experiences, visit her blog, One Seed: Endless Hope.