The last weekend of October 2021 became a watershed time for the Crotts family—to the ER for stomach pains, to be hospitalized and tested, then finally told I had cancer. Stephen and I began an education that taught us a lot of things we didn’t want to know. But God knew that there were experiences that we couldn’t bypass because there were things we needed to know, up close and personal.
Cancer is such a bad word. We used to joke as a family that camping was “The C Word.” But now we know that cancer really is the C word. Cancer frightens you, consumes all your energy, all your thoughts, all your time. Cancer is a very bad word.
Having said that, I have to say that this process became the grad school of life and we had to turn up the volume on God’s Word, the Word that is a very good word. Our son Bryan, a pastor who is my pastor, had just done a Sunday School class on ways to listen to biblical teaching, good online Bibles and study helps, the Trinity Hymnal, the app RefNet, Ligonier Ministries, and other helpful tools. While still in the hospital I decided that I would not weep, nor cry, nor complain to God or man. I would get through this. I would get up every day with my daily verse, daily reading of the Scripture, daily thanks to God. Max McLean read me to sleep at night with the Scripture. I would stand on the Word of God and His promises. Win for me if I lived, win for me if I went to heaven to be with Jesus. I couldn’t lose.
Through a series of blessings our daughter Claire found a doctor who had the best of credentials and with whom I got an abnormally quick appointment. Within a few days I had a port installed and had my first chemo in early December. Things happened fast.
So while I was getting a lot of attention (Claire hated to leave me, and her husband Grieg said to stay for whatever it took, son David and his Katie sent me gifts, my sister Libby came to stay for two weeks, phone calls, cards by the dozens, flowers) my good husband was suffering quietly. He slept a lot, tried not to call attention to himself, found not a lot to smile about, much less laugh and be happy about. I enjoyed the several beautiful flower arrangements; he said it felt like funeral flowers. I couldn’t eat, he worried. He had so many unanswered questions—“How long would this take, What was the end game, The cost, When would life get back to normal, Would life get back to normal?”
And so somehow we became kinder to each other, more thoughtful to one another, more considerate of the feelings of the other. He made it easy on me in ways that mattered so much, even as simple as saying, “That’s okay; you don’t have to do that.” He arranged for daughter-in-law Mandy to take over most of my work that I did for him, and he himself began to do things like picking up medicine at the pharmacy or putting the clothes in the dryer, just things that were my everyday that I simply had not the strength or the desire to do. His friends became his lifeline. So many kindnesses were his payback for his own investment in friends over the years.
By the grace of God, we have become not fearful but hopeful, not bitter but sweeter, not impatient but more considerate, 1 Corinthians 13 lived out in real life. Easily we could have asked, “Why me? Why us?” As Claire says, “Why NOT me?” I am so thankful that the great God of the universe considers me worth teaching in my broken body and old age, and I am learning. I have seen faults that God has kindly pointed out and I’ve tried to correct my behavior. And I’ve realized that I still have a lot to learn. I know that this husband and fellow traveler through life holds me up in prayer and in our life. He is there, stalwart and fierce in his own way. To be corny, we complete each other. He picks up where I leave off in so many ways.
And I am the recipient of many blessings. Rejoice with me!
by Kathryn Crotts