My dad's cancer is not improving. His PSA levels have doubled, which means there is cancer in his body, and its presence is growing. And it's time to start more treatments. He got the news on Wednesday, and he has a little while to figure out what he and my mom want to do. Get second opinions, start treatment, whatever.
Adversity is a part of our existence here, whether we like it or not. Doug and I believe that God allows adversity to let us grow and learn and develop into better people. He doesn't enjoy seeing us in pain, but He gives us comfort and strength and the tools to get through it. Adversity shows us what we're made of. Sometimes we see we're not made of much, and it gives us a chance to improve ourselves.
There's a scripture that says, "For if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet" (Doctrine and Covenants 29:39). I often think of that scripture when I think of the day Addy was born. I was so inexplicably caught off guard by the intensity of my labor pains. As the contractions came so strong and so close together, Doug and I struggled to do the breathing and relaxation techniques we'd practiced. I kept looking at him as if to say, "Uh, this is NOT what I was expecting." (Why, you ask? Because I'm a dolt.) It was a whole new kind of pain for me. So when I eventually got the epidural, all I can remember is the almost laughable relief. I felt SO good! I was able to rest and talk and function. The contrast of that extreme pain to that extreme lack of pain was so drastic, that when I look back at that day I only think of (a) the relief and (b) the fact that it ending with a beautiful, healthy baby being born. Serious joy.
As I've thought about my dad's cancer today, I've realized how mad I am at cancer. How annoyed I am that it won't leave him alone. How upset I am that my dad... and my mom... and all the people that love them... have to deal with this type of adversity. And I realized something: I only seem to accept certain types of adversity. The more comfortable kind. The childbirth that brings painful labor but results in a baby, the exercise that causes sore muscles but makes you healthier, the failures that teach you life lessons and make you better in the long run. I somehow feel like any adversity beyond that is unfair.
But then I think of when my little nephew died. During his six months of life, he struggled day to day in the children's hospital just to live. But along the way he gathered a fan club outside of our family that was made up of nurses, doctors, friends of family, and coworkers of those friends that prayed for him and that felt a unity of faith in supporting him and his family. I think of all the joy we felt just by being touched by his simple, humble life. The appreciation we felt for the little things, and a reminder of what's truly important in life.
His life is exhibit A of the type of adversity I don't seem to condone. It's the type that I say to Heavenly Father, "Nice try, but that's too much... let's try something easier." But He allows those things. And some beautiful things came--amazingly--from that tragedy. And now He is allowing this cancer. And I wonder... what strength will come from this? What joy will come--could possibly come--from this pain? And I admit, I'm so emotional right now that I just don't know. Maybe this is a chance for us to all show some appreciation for good health and medical victories. Maybe this is a time to become closer as a family. Maybe this is a time to forgive differences and just celebrate the good. I really don't know. But I'm going to try and lose this anger I'm feeling. Maybe I won't stop being mad at cancer, but I'm going to stop being upset with the Lord for allowing this to happen to my dad. I want to accept that there are things I can't control, work for the things that I can control, and do what I can to make this bitterness give us something sweet.