January 19, 2015

“Today at 3 oclock central standard time (Clarification since most people are still baffled that I live in the pandhandle of Florida and in a different time zone) I will find out whether or not I have breast cancer.

14 months ago, I became ill with the flu, bronchitis, rhinitus, and strep throat… all at the same time. It was Thanksgiving week and I had been waiting all year to have the entirety of my family in town together… there was a great possibility that I was about to get engaged to be married to my boyfriend of  over a year and a half.

I was so sick that unbeknowenced to me, the engagement was shifted a few days later in the month in hopes that I would be well enough (Or at least drugged up enough with anti-biotics) to remember it all and be fully present for the big moment. I was, it was a huge surprise and 10 months later, we wed blissfully!

My sickness did pass but not for long and backing up, those 10 months following our engagement were VERY, VERY trying for my health. One sickness after another, swollen lymphnodes, hormone difficulties, emeregency room visits locally and even suddenly out of state. Life picked up in business to prepare for the wedding but I couldn’t really focus on the joy of planning because we were forced to spend so much time, money, and energy into figuring out what in the heck was wrong with me suddenly.

I called it coincidence… then I began to see it as the attack that it was. My relationship with my then fiancé and now husband, does and will change the world we live in. That’s not said in pride but humility. Yes, we are an interracial marriage and yes, that slams into and breaks down barriers almost every day. We are not progressed enough in the South for this to be “normal” yet and so it’s noticed… and that’s okay. We hope our love makes a difference. Brings unity.

But also because we are so head over heels in love with one another. You just rarely see that these days. We definitely have friends who are but almost every movie or TV show we watch, infiltrating all of our homes and lives each day, include stories of unfaithfulness or “falling out of love.” We would also like to be an example of what it means to be there… no matter what…. in sickness and in health.

Little did we know that by our commitment to love each other unconditionally, to break down racial barriers by just being us, and by following the call of the Lord each day of our lives… we were setting ourselves up for an attack from the evil one who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy.

Now some tests are to make us stronger.

Some moments are to train us for helping others.

Some are just moments that are too close to hell and for the last year or more of my life, I feel like I have been way too close to the fire as I spin on a quickly moving ride, like a hampster on his wheel. I can’t seem to get off. But I’m still called to trust.

I have been. I’ve been trusting. I’ve been running… pushing… being… living… and I am undone.

By Summer of 2014, I had already encountered over $1,200 of out of pocket medical expenses. 2 emergency room visits, one of which was in NYC in a horrible little space, lacking in privacy and adjacent to several gentlemen in ankle bracelets and handcuffs. I’m not too proud… I still took that IV and cat scan. What else to do when in NYC for 2 days?

I also had experienced pain, sickness, fear, and a host of other traumatic factors to cause 2014 to seem to be a year I wished to skip over… but I was getting married, finally!!!

So I kept pushing.

My family was there the whole way. For encouragement and cheer when I needed it. It did seem like the wrong time to have not made many close relationships yet in Pensacola. I had only lived there for short stints since I had traveled shortly after college and was only planted for 4 months when all of this began. At the same time, I just wanted to get through it, bring God glory from the pain, allow Him to use it all in my life to help others in the future, and call it a crazy season of life.

Cancer was discussed… a few times. Lymphoma, breast cancer, lukemia, etc. But every time, we ended up moving past the thought because we didn’t find proof. My full-time job with the City of Pensacola finally provided insurance benefits after the alotted training time. That was a blessing… for a short time. Soon after having taken a sigh of financial relief, I was witness to illegal activity, reported it to those that “are” and was soon silenced by the 4th floor of City Hall. During this time, I also received a threat to my life by a community who didn’t feel a young white woman should be running programs in their neighborhood. I was told that the crimes happening around me were a direct result of my unwanted presence in the area.

I wouldn’t have quit because nothing good comes from quitting what you’ve been called to make a difference in. I had been blessed with a burden. I was staying… until I was told I had to leave. By my boss. There was a day when they pushed me to my limit and I broke. I told my boss that I couldn’t go back the way that it was, without back up from my higher ups… so she had a brilliant plan that satisfied everyone except me who had done NOTHING other than do my job and take constant care of those around me.

I knew too much. I was a threat to local politics and it was an election year. So I was shoved somewhere “safe” and told it was because I was a better “fit” there. Okay.

Then I was forced to work a closing shift, taking out the trash (Not above it… I was just in a Supervisory role, y’all) every night of the week. “Closing” was 9pm some nights. They were hushing me up, forcing me out… I began to break.

I could keep doing what I was doing and wasting my life and sanity away… or I could quit and give them all what they really wanted. God told me to protect myself and move on… I stayed because I was stubborn.

All 4 wisdom teeth suddenly HAD to come out.

My surgery did not go well and I woke up 2x in the midst of it and experienced PAIN like I never had before. I just would not stay under antesthesia. Then my mouth was numb… my chin was numb… specifically, my lips were numb.

It was about 2 ½ weeks until my wedding. Without a miracle, I wouldn’t feel my first kiss as husband and wife… for a virgin who had saved her first kiss for this very man… a HUGE dissapointment. They said it was most likely permanent. I would need to learn to eat properly again and kissing my new husband would be more enjoyable for he than me.

The numbness did fade but did not go away. It’s late January, 2015 currently and my chin is still a little numb. The twinges of pain are gone though and my first kiss as husband and wife was full of feeling… whether physically or just emotionally, I’m not really sure.

One week before our wedding to the day, my mother and I were rushing to a flea markeet because there was so much to still be done. See… 2 weeks before, I had finally walked up to this same boss and handed her my letter of resignation. I finally had awakened to what the Lord was trying to tell me. Some times He tells us to stop facing giants and to hide in the hills of His protection. But there was only a short time left to plan for our wedding… and now we only had one income to do so.

A sweet couple we know actually ended up donating to our wedding, allowing us to continue with the dreams we had for that day. I can honestly say, this was one of the few times I saw God clearly in 2014. HE made His presence known that day and it was just what we needed to keep going… striving towards a more peaceful future.

As mom and I were sitting at a streetlight, minding our own business, a car slammed into the truck behind us and we catapulted forward, almost into the moving traffic within the intercection. Feeling pain but assuming it was all minor, she and I waited until Monday and then began our long post therapy for extreme whiplash with our chiropractor. We still go 2 to 3 times a week. It was so shocking to be in that accident, so near my wedding day… the day I had been waiting for for 29 years. It felt like a cruel joke. But I was alive and we kept moving.

Our wedding did not go as planned. Simply put, there was a LOT of miscommunication and had it not been for my sweet groom (and a few extremly special friends), that ceremony would have never come together. He’s awesome.

None the less, we loved it. That’s what’s important they say! And I believe that God was so honored by the day. That’s even more important in our opinion!

We returned from our honeymoon and I began to feel extremely nauseaus and also hungry enough to feed two. I went to my mom and told her I thought I was pregnant. This was so not in the cards. We were not planning nor ready for this. Took a test… nope. Took another not believing it… nope. Okay then, we must not be.

Suddenly one night in October I began to bleed and actually passed what seemed to be the product of a misscarriage. All weekend we were heartbroken for our previously unwanted and now unborn baby. And then they told me it wasn’t a misscarriage and I had never been pregnant. It was a “false pregnancy.”

Okay. We felt like we had grieved for nothing.

The Doctor did find something through all of this though… I had received blunt trauma to my pelvic area in the crash and it had been unattended. I had internal bleeding and fluid in my fallopian tube. We began to treat this, along with a severe candida problem that had been recognized.

Now my energy level hit an all time low.

In the midst of treatment for these new discoveries, I was praying… seeking answers like crazy as to what I was now supposed to do with my life, post career and wedding… I heard nothing for a month, until we had dinner with some friends and one of them called me out!

He made me come to grips with my life-long calling to be a full-time missionary and so I committed right there and then to jump in with both feet and to develop the vision God had given me so long before for a grassroots project called BeLoved. I joined a non-profit team and said sayonara to pursuing a “career.” I was going the way I knew I always should have. Surely God would bless me now that I’m in His will?

?????

So Thanksgiving came. My mom worked, my sisters were mostly out of town, and Sheldon and I balanced our family commitments for the first time. It was a strange holiday. But we were still thankful.   The anniversary of our engagement was celebrated for sure, but we both held bitterness in our hearts for the way that the last year of our lives had turned out… definitely not the fairytale that we intended.

But we were together. We were in love. Our bills were paid… barely. And we were following God’s will. Surely He would bless us now. Financially. Healthy lives?

I turned 30 on December 11th and became ill by afternoon. Among the shadows of the evening, contractions hit me and I began to moan involuntarily. My mom was asleep but I begged Sheldon to go get her anyhow. The three of us fought through confusion to finally all go to bed, my level 10 pain having suddenly subsided after hours of agony. Sheldon just brushed my hair out of my face and pressed in on me because it was the only comfort I could receive.

At 2:30 in the morning, I ran to the bathroom and passed what looked to be the same substance as before. More though.

Having been through this before, I was not even alarmed. Calling the doctor’s office the next day, I explained to those on call that it had all happened again… but worse. I was told that the hormones I was taking had not fully kicked in yet and to give it another month to see if it happened again…

What? …Okay.

So I saved the specimine (In my fridge. Eww.) because I was told I should have before and didn’t and we waited. Christmas came and went and was attempted to be celebrated. Life had become so baffling… so bleak… so tiresome. But we were together. And we were in love. And God is still good all of the time, right?

Intimacy had not been much of an option for us as a married couple thus far… I’m throwing honesty out there when I say we had not been able to accomplish much at all in that department… because of my extreme pain level and health issues. Not to mention, that I was placed on birth control weeks before our wedding and only got off of it long enough to change types. We had been very careful during that time to obstain from any sort of phsical intimacy.

So you can understand our complete confusion and shock when I finally returned to the OB after the New Year to find out that I had not only had 1 misscarriage but yes, two. Both times had I been carrying a child despite contraception and both times something inside of me had attacked and killed the children before they could really begin to grow. I was further along the second time, hence the full contractions.

All of this came from the patholgy report seized because of the kept specimine. It came back reporting misscarriage caused by severe candida… and black mold.

Black mold.

???????????????????????????????????????

The doctor had called on her cell to deliver the news… on speaker phone, my husband of not quite 4 months and I found out we had been parents… twice… to unborn children and that I was suffering with a VERY dangerous fungis in my reproducctive organs and would need immediate treatment. My case was turned over to the Infectious Disease Doctor.

Last Friday (Yes, we’ve hit the new year but not any relief at all), I learned that it may not be black mold at all… I would have already been dead, says the doctor. Bloodwork ensued and now we wait on those results. They will come when they want to and they may or may not be right. My PH levels were wrong in October after all… when I was told that I had not been pregnant.

But now I rewind again… back to October when all of the struggles began down low… they also picked back up in regards to the scary C word. I had lumps… irregularity in my breasts upon examination. I was sent for my 3rd mamogram of the year (And yet the nurses STILL informed me each time that I was “too young to need a mammogram”… thanks for the info). Following that… an ultrasound. Oh there’s that pesky tumor on the right side… let’s get it biopsied… no, you think I need more tests on the left side you say??

Okay.

MRI results showed clear uptake in BOTH breasts.

Probably caffeine build up… says the surgeon. Get off of it immediately and be tested again in 5 weeks. Almost 7 weeks later, 2nd MRI shows the glaring same results. “But you’re too young to worry,” says the biopsying doctor… yeah, I’ve heard that one before somewhere.

So she operates minorly to take pieces of my breasts to have tested… oops… “I slipped into an area not numbed by lidocain… you okay? Okay, good.”

The bottom half of my left breast is now resembling the numbness in my mouth and chin only 6 months ago. It hurts terribly… and yet I can’t feel touch to it at all. Must have nicked a nerve. Okay.

So now I’ve waited. I’ve waited for a few days for the results that come at 3pm today. At least I’ll know for sure about the top half… and then I’ll find out more about the bottom half of me when the bloodwork results come back from the Infectious Diseas Doctor’s office. Maybe I got black mold or something overseas… maybe not.

Maybe we’ll never know. Maybe we will and it won’t be any big deal. Maybe I’ll just be exhausted for the rest of my life, fighting to feel my own heartbeat in my haze…

Or maybe I’ll be healed. I’m still hoping for that.

Today. Today, I’m asking God for healing. I don’t want bad news, even though it sometimes feels inevitable. Actually, if I’m being honest… today is the first day that I have felt excitement like it will be great news in a long time. This might be it… the promised rainbow moment I’ve been crying for in 2014 and now the start of 2015 as well.

Maybe throughout all of this, my blessing has been to have Sheldon. We’ve been made even closer by it all until we started arguing this weekend about all things petty and trite. It’s the stress of part of the culmination, I’m sure.

Either way… whatever happens… through my anger over it all… through my bitterness that this has been the worst timing for the tied worst year of my life. Don’t judge me. I know there have been some amazing life moments… but my mind is so clouded beccause of the stress and pain. Disappointment and lack of gain in understanding. It FEELS tied as the worst year of my life.

I’ve been depressed, guys. Really, really depressed. I’ve not slept in a year. Seriously, not sure how I’ve made it. I’ve been mad since August. Really, really mad. I’ve cried to God more times this year than when I was living with my abusive father as an adolescent and young adult. Because this time… this time life was supposed to be different.

Now I know what some of you are thinking… “Get over it! Our lives are hard too. At least nobody died and you’re not alone!!!”

You’re right. I agree. Wish I could right now.

But as of right now, January 19th, 2015 I am undone.

God has heard my cries and brought relief. My mom has been at every doctor’s appointment but one. Seriously, She’s been there. Friends, community, church, purpose, financial saving, and a powerful love from my husband. He’s given me all of that and I PROMISE that I am grateful.

I am undone too. I hit that place about a week and a half ago. It took that long. I didn’t give in easily. I probably will never give up. I’ve seen too much of His faithfulness in my lifetime. But I am undone. Right now. In this moment.”


 

Today is April 2nd, 2015 and I’d like to give you a much needed update…

I do not have cancer… I do not have black mold… I no longer have severe candida or any other terrifying physical ailment!!!!! PRAISE JESUS!!!! I’m still in physical therapy for the accident but that’s pretty normal. I’m sleeping and eating better and becoming healthier by the day!

In addition to the medical miracles that can only be explained by a praying community and God’s blessing, I also am living lighter… much lighter. It did not come the days I received the results… actually, Sheldon and I traded off being VERY sick with every normal bug we could pick up for about 5 weeks following but on the otherside of the storm… the VERY LARGE storm, we are both walking taller, and getting stronger by the day.

It’s been reminded to me that weakness is not failure but an opportunity to get even stronger than before. I’m not there yet, folks, but headed in the right direction and with a perspective that is focused on what REALLY matters. Living today as today and tomorrow as tomorrow and each day with His kingdom purpose in mind.

Also, that being real with God is what He asks of us. He proved to me this year (as if I had to have it to move on), that He can handle me. And how I act and feel when the enemy comes at me.

Sheldon and I have been reading Job slowly since the New Year. It’s teaching us as we walk and learn. Perfection is not what Papa asks for; it’s trust in His faithful nature. Choosing His way, even when we suffer along the route. He held us along the way, even when we were clawing at his arms of courage.

We doubted, stomped, cried, and waited for a miracle with hazy faith but we were still allowed to lead. That’s the precious divinity of God’s Spirit. He doesn’t call us because we are capable, but because we are His. We are His BeLoved. And we wanted you to know that you’re not alone and you’re life is not over, even when you become undone. Just lean in, BeLoved. Lean in.

BeLoved,

Lauren!<><+

*”I am undone” is the first part of a series written by Lauren Anne Powell. Next up “Arms Of Courage.” (Subscribe to this blog here to receive notifications for future posts by Lauren.)