Please join together in welcoming Carrie Boos to the Gritty Pearl this week. Carrie is a dear friend, a fierce woman of faith, and a survivor of parents' worst fears. We trust that her story will fill you with hope and embolden you to face your own giants.
I can remember the worst day of my life like it was yesterday. I was 34-years-old, seven months pregnant with my third girl, and working in my classroom. Throughout an anxious day of teaching, I'd been waiting for a call from my doctor. When it finally came, my life was turned upside down.
I’m sorry, you have cancer. It's spread.
Isn’t it funny how life can change in an instant? And when it does, the things you took for granted become invaluable treasures. All of your old “problems” become insignificant and it's all about perspective. I hope you never have to experience the agony of a life-changing moment like this.
But then again, maybe I hope you do.
I'm certainly not wishing harm to come to you. I had to endure six months of chemo (unsure of how it would affect my unborn baby), major surgery, twenty-eight days of radiation, and then more chemotherapy. I should also mention the emotional torment that comes with the fear of leaving your children motherless. It wasn’t fun.
But strangely, now that it’s all behind me, I'm grateful and feel incredibly blessed by the experience. It's hard to believe, but there's something oddly wonderful about being forced to get desperate. To submit your life into God’s hands in the hope that He won’t let you drown. You get to discover that He won't.
That doesn't necessarily mean a fairy tale ending for me, because I’ll be playing the waiting game for the next five years - to find out if the cancer will return, or if I'll be officially cleared. It does mean peace and love like you've never experienced, though. God overwhelmed me with love during my treatment. I felt it through the meals that friends, family, and coworkers delivered, through their constant calls and messages, and through the donations to help with medical bills.
I especially felt it through the laughter shared with friends who didn’t treat me any differently, despite being the bald, pregnant lady wearing a bikini at the beach!
God sent exactly who and what I needed at every moment, without me even having to ask for it.
How do you have peace when you are facing hardship? The diagnosis. The financial crisis. The death of a loved one. The broken relationship. How do you keep grief, worry, and sadness from ruling your life?
People often tell me how strong they think I am. They can’t believe that I lived life normally, that I smiled and laughed and went out with friends. That I kept a positive attitude and "made battling for my life look easy." It would be ego-boosting to take the credit for all of it, but I truly can’t.
I started off a blubbering mess, hugging my children tightly and sure I was going to die. What changed me were God’s promises. He makes us so many promises - just open up your Bible and see. There were many that I claimed for myself, but my favorite was James 5:14-15:
“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.”
So that's what I did. I trusted that God would make me well. I know it seems too simple, but it worked. What has God promised you? Claim it, own it, believe it. Lean into your loved ones - even if they can’t understand what you’re going through, their love will bring joy to your life. God will bring you peace in the storm, even when it seems impossible.
So here I am. With horrible, short, bushy hair (at least I’m not bald anymore), and about ten pounds of baby weight that just won’t let go. Oh, and a potential death sentence. But don’t forget the other part...
The part where I found joy and realized that God loved me so much I didn’t have to worry about the future. He handled it.
The part where I know exactly what and exactly who matters in my life and no longer take it for granted. The part where I learned to be thankful for every waking moment I have on this earth with my sweet family and friends.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
Carrie Boos is a wife and the mom of three giggly, adventurous daughters. She has a passion for teaching second grade and spending time at the beach. She considers herself to be part mermaid.
Originally from Michigan, she and her family have called the shores of North Carolina home for the last eight years.
Are you up against a challenge? Are you an overcomer? Do you need prayer? Let us know by leaving your thoughts below!
M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Earns Crossfit participation trophies. Disaster cook. Enthusiastic wife. #Boymom. Clutches her faith, not her pearls.