by Bethany Allen
All my ducks were in a row. I was ready to begin my last semester of law school. I had a highly coveted internship with the FBI lined up–top security clearance and all. My trial team coach had selected me to represent my school in a prestigious Mock Trial competition in the spring. And I had sent out resumes and was awaiting interviews with several firms. That’s when I got the call, the call that would change my life. In the plans that I had made I left no time for the unexpected. But who does?
It was the summertime when I noticed an unusual lump. I didn’t think much about it because, after all, I had just turned 25. In a casual conversation with Mom I mentioned it. She encouraged me to get it checked out. Several months later I did. No worries or so I thought. One thing led to the next and I found myself in the waiting room at a Cancer Research Hospital with 15 other ladies, each of them at least 20 years older than myself. I felt ridiculous and out of place. I had no business being there. Many of the women looked at me with sad eyes, as if to say ‘You’re too young to be facing this,” but at the time I didn’t know I was facing anything. I was just going to prove to myself and my mother that what I felt was nothing more than a harmless mass.
The results of my mammogram and ultrasound went straight to my family doctor. I thought for sure the issue would be put to rest. But the next thing I knew, my doctor was recommending that I see a specialist to have a biopsy done. As much as I hated needles, this was not my idea of a good time. It took two biopsies for the doctors to obtain the cells and tissue they needed to get an accurate reading from the pathologist.
Three days after Christmas my phone rang with a number I did not recognize. I answered. The voice from the other end was the voice of the nurse who held my hand during the biopsies. She said, “I have some bad news.” I called my mom and my dad into the room. With my six month old niece in my arms, the nurse told us the news: Breast cancer. Cancer, the word rolled around on my tongue. I felt weak, helpless. I sat down but I barely cried a tear. Everyone faces tough times at some point in life and I had never, until now. ‘It’s just my turn,” I said to myself.
I had known people with cancer: skin cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, you-name-it cancer. This disease seemed to me to be affecting everyone in some capacity or another. What was it with this stuff? I felt fine–healthy as ever. In fact, I had been training to run a marathon, a full 26.2 mile marathon, for the past six months. And the marathon was to take place in two weeks. “Oh yeah, the race,” I thought. The split second after hearing the diagnosis I asked the nurse, “Can I still run my marathon?” At least I had my priorities straight.
So I ran my marathon. But that’s not all I did. I also completed my FBI internship, finished law school, and passed the Bar Exam on my first try despite my breast cancer surgery, fertility preservation treatments, chemotherapy, and several set-backs along the way.
Through this whole experience God has given me a fresh perspective on the brevity of life and the things that matter on this earth: My relationship with God and my relationships with people.
The peace that passes all understanding that people talk about in excruciating times is real and I have been experiencing it first hand. Instead of falling away and becoming bitter, I press into God desiring to see His heart through my uncertainty. God does not promise us that life will be easy, but He does promise that He will never leave us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5).