Two months after being home from the hospital, the medical bills arrived in clumps.
Some from Sabal; most for me.
I wrote checks for the smaller statements first, leaving two large bills unpaid. We had $27.00 to survive the next couple of weeks.
Scooping the piled papers together, the muscles around my neck constricted. My head bowed in defeat.
From behind me his footsteps stopped, and I heard his knees crack as he crouched to a sitting position. The warmth of his hand caressed my back. “Come here.”
I didn’t dare look up.
Jason drew me onto his lap, cradling my body like a child. “You’re worrying again,” he whispered into my hair.
My voice quivered, “Do you realize the lifestyle we’d live if I wasn’t always sick?”
He slid strands of long bangs from my face, lifted my chin. “Do you realize how empty my life would be without you?”
I crushed my body into his.
Jason gathered me tighter in his arms. “When are you going to trust that God is in control?”
Three months later, October 9, 2009, The Florida Department of Health launched a Cancer Cluster Study in The Acreage area, which included our semirural community in Loxahatchee. Local families documented thirty plus brain tumors and varying cancers in our surrounding location which drew the attention of Erin Brockovich, the celebrity environmental activist. She spoke during one of our town hall meetings: “We are concerned about some of the things we are seeing. We are concerned about radioactivity that is being found in the water wells.”
I pushed back from my computer screen after closing out the Palm Beach Post article, unable to stare at these words any longer. My intestines twisting and untwisting like a child repeatedly twirling and unraveling on a chain-swing.
This has to be hype. I shuddered at the thought. Three-year-old Asher toddled into the room with sticky lunch smudged over his face. I lifted him into the tub and knelt, waiting for the bath to fill. Asher dipped his plastic Buzz Lightyear cup underneath the pale-yellow well water and lifted the rim to his mouth. Radioactivity, I gasped and knocked Buzz from his hand. “Don’t drink the water!” My voice rose louder than normal.
What am I talking about, ‘Don’t drink the water!’ He’s soaking in it! I wrapped sweet Asher in a towel. Lord help us.
When the cluster news first spread, I thought surely this whole thing would blow over. I had little desire to leave the home we spent ten years updating. New roof, thanks to hurricane Frances, discounted hard wood floors, thanks to Brett’s carpet and tile company, and custom built kitchen complete with white shaker-style cabinets, Brazilian granite, and stainless steel appliances, including a convection oven, thanks to Mom.
Only, housing prices in our area plummeted due to the scare and the burst of the housing bubble. We owed double than what our house was worth.
Jason paced in front of me outside on our homemade deck. “We have no other option than to short sale.”
I bit my lip.
“If we don’t move and the kids get cancer…or worse, you have another occurrence, I’ll blame myself for the rest of my life that I didn’t protect my family,” Jason rationalized with me, explaining that he’d mapped seven children within a five-mile radius of our home that were diagnosed with brain tumors.
Every bath, dip in our above ground vinyl pool, or kids playing in dug up holes in the backyard ate at my soul.
For nine months we tried negotiating with the bank to give us a medical release from our house. My nervousness wouldn’t allow me to miss a payment, and everyone knew the only way to short sale was to fall behind on your mortgage.
Blackness like never before fell over me, like I stood at the bottom of a pit watching the world shovel heaps of dirt on top of my body, burying me alive.
And then my doctor found a bump.
A swollen node on the right side of my breast was caught at my annual exam. The spot felt sensitive to the touch, so I assumed the usual cyst I had as a teen growing up. What began with blood work and an ultrasound, turned into an appointment with my oncologist and an MRI.
I left my OBGYN’s office with a script that detailed my new circumstances and further testing. My head spun. This was supposed to be quick in-and-out routine procedure. Anger rose within me, if I’m indeed sick and for months we made this ethical decision to fight for a medical release from our home… I dropped my head on the steering wheel in utter frustration. I needed a voice of reason. I called Jason.
“Calm down, babe. Calm down. Nothing has been confirmed,” he talked me back to normal, then said, “Fax your script to our bank.”
And I did.
(The story continues and has an amazing twist)
I’m not sure how many people read this far, but this was part of a chapter that was cut from the book. Obviously, there’s a second (much more uplifting) part to the story. Maybe I’ll post that later if anyone’s interested.
I’m not sure why God put this on my heart to share. Maybe because it was the worst two years of my life and maybe because I know there are so many people out there who are hurting, who just want to know why life stinks right now.
Hang in there.
God’s got a plan. A big plan. Sometimes we don’t see it when we’re neck-deep, suffocating in our trials.
But I promise….He doesn’t waste a single thing.
If your going through a tough time, I’d love to pray for you. You can anonymously post your prayer request in the comment section.