My name is Christine Moore, and this is the story of my “midlife crisis.”
When I was approaching the big 4-0, my biggest health concerns were treating laugh-lines and zits at the same time. My husband Ernie and I had dealt with real life “grown-up” challenges and were a year into a big job change. We could have moved to a different state and away from the roots we had worked so hard to establish for our family. We chose to trust God’s plan and that He was not calling us to another place, but wanted us to trust Him right where we were.
My dear husband was happier in his job than he had been in a long time, and I was enjoying the privilege of being a mostly stay at home mom, working part-time, and enjoying the flexibility of being with our three kids during the crazy, busy life we were living. The blessings were big; the family was good, healthy, smart and funny. In a good place, making future plans and feeling pretty good about making 40 just a number. No need to panic or have a crisis. You need to know, I don’t believe in coincidences, and I do believe that the worst-case scenario sometimes comes true. I love corny jokes, and I believe in a good cliché.
Then, the routine health checkup showed something not normal. Not normal, but nothing to worry about; after all, this girl was the picture of health. Eating right, exercising, managing stress, all part of my daily routine. Because as a Physical Therapist, I felt a particular mandate to practice what I preach. But, I’ve already shared that I believe in the truth of the worst-case scenario. I’m actually kind of the queen of the worst-case scenario, not because I don’t trust God or think bad things are inevitable- it’s just that I cannot count the number of times I’ve said “a one in a million chance is fine until you are that one” and actually saw the one in a million happen.
So, with that in the very back of my mind, the follow-up tests were scheduled and things chugged along as usual. The summer scooted along, eased into fall and then on October 10th, 2014 a routine colonoscopy revealed a colorectal tumor.
Cancer had introduced itself.
The irony of the midlife crisis I thought I’d avoided was not lost on me, I assure you. Insert a beloved cliché here- I actually thought I was dreaming and not yet awake from the anesthesia. Well, I was wide awake, and the work of finding our footing after the floor fell out from under us began. One thing was immediately clear to me: my unbelief in the coincidence was about to be proven 100% correct. If we had pursued a job out of town, we would have been far away from family, friends, UAB and the exact doctors we would need. My mother’s work had created a relationship with one of the best oncologic surgeons in the country. Not coincidence, only God. God had not called us elsewhere because we needed to be right here, and He had already laid this out. Had already honored our obedience by ensuring we would have the support system we needed just as we faced the fight of our lives. It was just the validation we needed in those early, scary, terrible days that God had me in the palm of his hand; He would not leave me nor forsake me. It was comforting, reassuring and a blessing.
So, the midlife crisis was upon me. Make no mistake, I was sad, angry, terrified, begging to be spared, so I could mother my babies, stay with my wonderful husband, parents, family and friends. The bargaining was epic. I asked God just once, “Why me?” His answer was a question right back, “Why not you?” That was it. My crisis would be my calling.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –CS Lewis.
That quote was one of the very first text messages I received to reinforce that He uses our deepest pain to bring us closer to Him and to be able to minister to a lost and broken world. He told me right away “your faith has made you well.” And the verse I clung to was Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I knew I had at least the faith of a mustard seed, and I began telling my mountain to move!
The crisis turned into total faith in my Jehovah Rapha. And a newfound desire to just be salt and light, to be the megaphone in the world but in a small, still way. To just let His love for me be seen by others and offer hope and maybe, just maybe, point someone to the cross who wouldn’t have gotten there another way. I had cancer. I could only control how I spent every day, and I intended to live, to worship, to grow, to love, to share, to minister, to heal and to be whole again. He would fulfill the promises he made to me.
As I began to delve into the word, images that related to certain scriptures and verses became strangely important to me. I wear a cross necklace almost every day, but the iconography of the cross is almost too cliché. Crosses are “decorative” and pervasive and somehow have lost the real impact. Anchors, arrows, feathers, apples, seeds, hearts, mountains and angel wings all became meaningful reminders of His word and His promises. I began seeking them out, but noticed that these secular items are suddenly quite prevalent in clothing and home décor. Coincidence? I’ll let you answer that. I began wearing a small silver anchor, and it got lots of compliments. It allowed me to share another treasured verse, Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor, firm and secure.” and possibly plant the seeds God wanted sewn.
I can’t explain my obsession, only that I am eager to use worldly things to do some heavenly good. I fail daily, and I don’t think I could witness especially well to someone, but if a cute t-shirt with an arrow can get me talking about my story and how much I have been blessed, then I’m all about it.
There are too many moments of God’s faithfulness and providence during our cancer year to recount in this forum, but I must share one in particular that just tells you all you need to know about my God.
After chemo and radiation, I had a follow up CT scan. Everything was great, except the radiologist saw some fluid around my heart that needed to be checked out. None of the doctors were particularly concerned, but when you have cancer, leave no stone unturned. Worst-case scenario and all… anyway, I had to be admitted to the hospital and have a procedure to have the fluid drawn off my heart with a huge needle! Whatever it takes. I was admitted to the hospital and my nurse was a precious lady. So kind and caring. Since my admission was added last minute, she did not have any of my history and so I began to tell her and I began to cry… and cry… and cry. Uncontrollable, messy, horrible sobbing. “Crying like a baby” crying.
Turns out, her husband has cancer, the kind that should have killed him six months after being diagnosed, but he was alive and fighting. Then, she took my hands and asked to pray. Prayer warrior prayers, demanding that the living water that flows through me wash over every cell in my body, that I would be completely healed of the cancer and that I would grow to an old age and see my grandchildren. This nurse was my angel. She fought for me and interceded for me when I was scared and broken and at my wit’s end. That fluid around my heart turned out to be nothing. They still have no clue why it happened.
God happened. Healing happened. A worst-case scenario turned into a cliché and became a not at all coincidence. That, my friends, is what you call a miracle. After radiation, two rounds of chemo, two surgeries, countless prayers and praises, my cancer crisis is essentially over. My doctors are very confident, the follow up tests are scheduled, and for five years we will wait and see, knowing His faithfulness.
The support and love of our village was overwhelming. The meals, the prayers, the generosity, the love and support were humbling and can never be repaid. We saw the hands and feet in action. Our little village did great things in the fight against cancer and kept us fed, prayed over and blessed during this huge trial. We cannot thank them adequately except that we know that those who give generously will be given back in good measure. Real life didn’t stop, and for that I am grateful.
I struggled, but I kept up with my kids and our life, got to take a hiatus from work and returned with a new empathy for those I love to care for. Clichés didn’t take a break; there were “when it rains it pours” moments and tender moments. I watched my kids grow and change because of time and because of cancer. And, they made me so proud to be their mom by exhibiting quiet strength and faith. There are no words for my dear Ernie Moore. I love him more than I ever thought possible. My rock, my safe place, my logistics guy. He showed me the kids are capable of making their own breakfast, and everyone needs to fold their own socks! Marriage is for better or worse. I hate we had the worse, but it made us better.
So, for my 41st year, I am cancer free and slowly getting back to normal. Except things will never be normal again. We gained through loss; we grew by becoming small. We saw God’s face and Satan’s wrath at being defeated. I have no longer any doubt of the spiritual war being waged. It is real. I have lived it. Satan wanted nothing more than to attack my family, and he prowled like a lion, I guarantee you. He tried to kill, steal and destroy our faith, family, and friendships. There are none of us immune-not to cancer and not to the confusion and strife the enemy wants to dabble in. If cancer can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. But, if healing and victory can happen to me, that can happen for anyone too.
My midlife crisis was cancer. Everyone has one; it’s a cliché, a worst-case scenario and Praise the Lord, not a coincidence!