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  • Writer's pictureHolly Tomlin

The Tumor

Psalm 62:5-6  (ESV) For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. One week ago today (June 29th), at this very moment, I sat in the waiting room at my doctor’s office. What a whirlwind of a day, rather the last few days, leading up to that moment. My doctor was running behind. I sat in that chair trying to focus on everything other than the fact that I likely had a massive tumor in my uterus. Let’s back it up a few days to Thursday, June 25th. I noticed a “mass” in my lower abdomen. I am pretty in tune to my body and when things change. Being a medical provider, I started going through all my differential diagnoses. I called my OB/GYN and the earliest appointment was on Tuesday (June 30th). Holy cow, like 5 days away! (Door closed #1) Over the next few days, the anxiety began to take over. And Google… oh my, for something so helpful, it really is the worst thing every invented. On Saturday, it really peaked and I nearly had a panic attack. I shared this with Cory and what I was concerned about. We were getting ready to go to his brother’s 40th birthday party. As the anxiety overcame me, I told him I needed to go to the after-hours at my doctor’s office on the way. It would only take a minute, but I needed an answer before I lost my mind. I showed up at the doctor’s office and went to check in. The lady at the front desk told me that she would need to ask the doctor there, but she didn’t think they could see me for that today. She quickly came back and told me that he couldn’t see me that day, I would have to wait until Monday to see my primary doctor or I could go to the ER. (Door closed #2) I got back into the car and we headed to the party. I could barely hold back the tears all day long. I was literally paralyzed at moments from the fear. On Sunday, I opened my bible and just started reading. There are countless times in the bible that the Lord tells us “do not fear”. How could I not fear, this could be cancer. This could be something that takes my very life away. What about my children, my husband, my family and friends? These thoughts literally almost suffocated me at times. A week before all this happened, I journaled my thoughts and prayers down one night… 06.23.15 “Lord I praise you because you are worthy and you are sovereign over every single detail of our lives. Thank you for loving me despite my many failures and transgressions… I want to surrender my life to you. Every single part. I want to trust and rest. Reveal to me any area in my life that I place above you Lord. Trust my loved ones, especially my children in your hands. I sat there on Sunday night and read these words and nearly passed out. Lord, I prayed for you to show me areas of my life that I placed above you. Areas I put more of my time, my thoughts, my energy…. These areas are my children & my husband. Lord, now I am sitting here wondering if I will live to enjoy these things in my life. I also wrote that I wanted to TRUST and REST. Gulp! Several years ago a dear friend and mentor of mine gave me a book called “Overcoming Fear, Worry and Anxiety”. I began to look over some of the areas she had highlighted for me. “The desire to control people or circumstances is at heart- a trust problem.” “The heart that is filled with fear will continue to grasp for control” “The person who wants to be in charge will always be afraid he’s losing control.” “God wants me to grow to hate my fears and to desire to be free from them – for His glory”. Lord, whatever this is in my abdomen, you are wanting me to trust you. I am pretty sure this author wrote this whole chapter about me. I made some notecards of scriptures I read that night so I could continue to read those every minute if I needed to. For comfort, for reassurance of the faith I say that I have. Lord, it’s easy to talk the talk, but now you’re asking me to walk it. You are not asking me to control every single detail to try to get the outcome I desire. That is the enemy telling me that. He is the one telling me that God doesn’t care or isn’t big enough for my problems. Lord, all you are doing is asking me to walk in obedience to you one step at a time, to trust every step along the way that you will care for me and trust that you will do what is best. Journal entry 6.28.15 “God, I am right here today so you can teach me of my inability to control events and to set me free from my fears.” Psalm 34:4 ~ “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Monday, June 29, 2015 – I woke up to get ready for work. I looked at my phone 20 times waiting for 8:00am. I called my primary care doctor and the scheduling lady said she could see me at 9:30am. Praise! She could see me today! It’s usually very hard to get in same day, much less, in 1 ½ hours! I dropped the kids off at my friend’s house and went straight there. I shared my concerns with my primary dr and she agreed that something wasn’t right. I flat out asked her what she thought. She felt like it was probably a large uterine fibroid. Immediately these thoughts ran through my mind… Well, yes! Those are almost never cancer! They can cut out every female organ I have, I have no ties to those anymore. I can adopt if we want more kids. Can we do it tomorrow?  She asked me to wait a minute so she could go arrange for me to have an ultrasound. She came back in and said they could see me in 30 minutes, another praise here!! I went straight there. As I lay on that table, the sonographer was very sweet. She started to scan me and the anxiety began to creep in. It’s cancer; she is sitting her looking at my big tumor thinking ‘Oh this poor girl, she’s so young’.  As she was finishing, I asked her how long she thought it would take to get a report to my doctor, she said “only about an hour”. Perfect!  I left and called my OB/GYN to see let them know my primary care doctor’s concerns and they said she could see me that afternoon at 2:30. Another praise!! Hour by hour went by and I didn’t hear anything. I went ahead and went to my OB/GYN’s appointment. I had the sono images on a disc for her to look at. I still hadn’t heard anything from my primary doctor so at least she could look at those images and tell me what this was. (Door closed #3!) The medical assistant brought me back to a room and she told me it would just be a few minutes and she would also give the disc to my doctor. As I waited, I could hear them talking outside the door. She wasn’t able to open the disc. What in the world, this is terrible, I still may not find out today?!?!?!  My doctor came in and sat down. She let me know they were trying to get a report because she wasn’t able to open the disc. At that minute, my phone starts ringing. It was my primary care doctor. I answered. She asked me if I had a minute…. Gulp. She then proceeded to tell me everything that was normal, including my uterus, no fibroids, normal size…  Get to it lady, get to the bad news.Then she said, “But they did see a very large pelvic mass”. I immediately felt like I was going to pass out. I gave the phone to my OB/GYN and lost it. I don’t remember anything she said after large pelvic mass. It’s cancer, this is my very worst nightmare, coming true.  My OB/GYN hung up my phone and I couldn’t even speak. She tried reassuring me, like I have done with so many patients before. That’s human nature, to try to make people feel better when you have no idea that if it really will be or not. She told me she was going to call and get the report and come back in. I immediately called Cory and lost it. This may not be ok after all. An hour before I was ready to sign up to have her cut out my uterus and now we are talking about a “large pelvic mass”.  My doctor came back in and I put Cory on speaker so he could hear. I clearly wasn’t processing anything at this point. She said the report stated a “large 11cm by 11cm mass”. Basically, it’s an ovarian cyst the size of a newborn baby’s head. Holy cow. It had to come out and very soon. It was a miracle in fact that I hadn’t had emergent symptoms from the size of this mass. The next 30 minutes was spent arranging for me to go to surgery. My doctor said she would try for the next morning but it may be Wednesday. She left the room and came back in shortly and said she could do it the following morning first thing (Praise!!!). In the OR, they would send off a sample of the fluid from the cyst to see if it was cancer or not. My doctor felt encouraged it that it wasn’t but there was no way to know for sure until the pathologist viewed it. Then they would determine the route to remove it. I left the office and walked to my car. It was so surreal. I can’t explain the feeling, like everything was moving in slow motion. I just sat in my car and cried. I had done everything in my power to try to control the situation for the outcome I thought would be best. All of those efforts were a failure. I just began praying for strength. I needed to go pick up my children and go home to prepare for tomorrow. In this moment, the Lord began to step in. I got a few calls from family, some texts from friends. The encouragement and prayers began pouring in. In the hour it took to get the kids and go home, I had dozens of texts. One of my sweet friends asked if she could come over to pray over me. That turned into a whole group coming over. When I was pulling up to the house, our pastor was sitting outside in his car. He had come to check on us. In a time I should have been falling apart I wasn’t. I couldn’t really talk without crying much but oddly I had a strange peace about it all. Cory came home from work and we sat Emma down to tell her about it since she’s now old enough to understand what’s going on. She handled it way better than I imagined. Around 8pm, friends started showing up, all ones who are so dear to my heart and have come into my life at different times over the last 12 years. They each have played a huge role in my life and have encouraged me in my journey over the years. As a side note, what a praise that 9 friends were able to even gather with such short notice. The Lord cleared their schedules to allow them to be there for me. He knew that is exactly what I needed at that moment. The next two hours were unbelievable. The Lord’s presence was in that room and I felt his peace in ways I will never be able to describe. Hearing friends and family praying and pleading for me in prayer- that I would be healed, that I would be covered in His peace, that I would be able to walk in faith and follow Him in obedience. They prayed ultimately for the Lord to be glorified.  However that may look…. With my hands opened and reached out, I fully accepted that it was in His control and not mine. That He was holding my hand the entire time. Tuesday, June 30, 2015 I actually slept really well. I woke up at 5am to shower and get ready to go to the hospital. Before I left, I kissed Will while he was sleeping on the forehead and told him I loved him. We got in the car and the first song on the radio was such an encouragement. Praise! Then texts started coming in from family and friends. They were actually up that early praying for me. The Lord then brought this verse to me and comforted me. Psalm 62:5-6  (ESV) For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. I read this over and over again. Lord, my hope is in YOU. I will not be scared because YOU are in control. I cried and prayed that His will would be done that day. This tumor is His and may He use it for His glory. When I got to the hospital the nurses I had were all amazing, so compassionate, so caring. Right before surgery, I was half way drugged and rolled in to the OR and I hear someone say, “Are you Amy Fraim’s sister?” I was trying to figure out if I was dreaming or not. I wasn’t. She said she recognized me and she was a friend of my sister’s from church. The Lord took care of every single detail, even the small ones. I remember saying bye to Cory before they rolled me back into the operating room. I remember telling him that I loved him. He left and I laid there by myself for a few minutes. I cried and prayed. The Lord was there, I could feel His strength. I could feel His presence. This verse I had read many times over the last few days; I didn’t just recite it in my mind, but I believed it, more than ever… Deuteronomy 31:6  (ESV) Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” He never left me. He had already gone in that OR before me and prepared the way. He had already prepared me for what was to come. He was just waiting for me to give Him control and to just REST in Him. In those moments I was alone I did; I laid it all at his feet. So scary, yet so freeing. For the first time in a long time, I felt free. Freedom from worry, from anxiety, from having to try to control everything. I may have had cancer in my body, but I was free. I laid there trusting the Lord with all my soul that He would bring good from this. No matter what the outcome. I remember waking up in a room and I could hear a nurse working around me. The first thing I asked her … “Was it cancer?”.  She grabbed my hand and said “No it wasn’t”. I immediately cried and said “God is so good”, she squeezed my hand and said “Yes He is”.  Cory came in and I have never been so relieved to see him. He told me that they ended up removing the very large ovarian cyst and had to also remove my ovary and fallopian tube. My doctor couldn’t even identify where the cyst started and ended because it was so ingrown into my ovary/tube, so they all had to come out. The baby’s head was now gone. After a few hours of recovery, I was able to go home to be with my family. Over the last week, I have just recounted the moments; how all the events unfolded. All of the doors the Lord deliberately closed, but then all of the ones He quickly opened when He was ready. He knew it would take me exhausting all my own efforts to eventually lift my hands to him in full surrender. Once that was done, he paved the way for me to have a quick diagnosis and treatment, all in less than 18 hours. That just doesn’t happen in medicine. Thank you Lord for your favor here. I have never in my life felt so loved, so cared for. There were definitely many times the emotional weight of it all overcame me, but I had such a strong sense of peace that only comes from the Lord. Journal entry - 07.01.15 “Lord, you knew exactly what I needed to learn to trust you. I’ve always known you are good but I doubted you were good enough for me or that I deserved your goodness. I would have never volunteered to go through this trial, in fact, I felt like I was walking into the unimaginable, worst case scenario rather than believing Satan’s lies that you aren’t good, that you can’t care for me. I made the choice to walk in faith towards you. And you carried me through. Such a helpless feeling. But you were faithful to keep your promise. Thank you. I pray I never forget these moments. How scary, yet how beautiful. How merciful. What a glimpse of heaven I have seen. I pray one person’s life will forever be changed because of this. I pray I can tell the world of your goodness. Every single day. All for your glory.” Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” I have tasted and seen the Lord is good. It took a “tumor” to teach me to relinquish full control. But the Lord is faithful. He is absolutely who He says He is. I have never believed that more than I do today. He never promises life will be easy, but He does promise it will be worth it. I would rather walk through trials with Him leading me every single day than alone every again. Lord may I never put anything else ahead of You. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for loving me, more than I could ever imagine.

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