“On September 17, 2014 I sat in a doctor’s office and listened to the words, “Ms. Mingo, we had the test ran twice because even I could not believe the diagnosis. I am sorry but you have a rare form of lymphoma.” I felt my heart sink as I sat on the patient’s table and looked over at my mother for the first time ever with the thought that I may leave this earth before her.
I had been 25 for less than a month. Prior to that day, I felt on top of the world. In that month, I had just secretly officially graduated from undergrad, landed a job a week afterwards and started my masters program. I never imagined that the symptoms that I experienced all summer, which caused me to visit my doctors two weeks prior, would result in me being diagnosed with cancer.
I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve this. I cried to God asking him “why me?” I began to audit my life to try and find justification for what I viewed as punishment. I couldn’t find anything. After being referred to UPenn’s Perelman Center and beginning to receive my treatments, I began to feel like a “cancer patient”. I had to wake up early in the morning to receive treatments, I had to follow guidelines given by my doctor. I had to be reminded daily by pain, extreme fatigue, itching and my skin that I had this disease.
I hated it. I hated feeling weak. I hated needing and receiving accommodations from my professors and place of employment. Pride began to take control and I began to make poor decisions simply because I needed to convince myself that I was still the strong girl I’d always prided myself on being. I skipped treatments and played hookie from doctors appointments. I looked fine and few people could tell my diagnosis by looking at me so I breezed through daily activities pretending to be okay. My parents and family pleaded with me, my doctor scolded me; their pleas and instructions, I ignored. I wanted to do what made me feel strong….
Off and on for over a year, I made the decision to play with my health for the sake of proving to myself that I was strong enough to fight cancer on my own. Until the symptoms reappeared aggressively and I was scared. By this time it was 2015 and I was in another state with new doctors. I called my mom and she lovingly scolded with me and made her final plea.
I sat in my apartment crying, again I asked God why he made my body weak. I very clearly heard God say to me, “Your cancer has not made you weak, your pride has.” I immediately stopped crying and realized, I have cancer–and that’s okay.
What was not okay was allowing my pride to dictate the steps I took to control my illness. For over a year, despite my foolishness, God’s favor kept me and I continued to frustrate his grace in order to pacify my pride. In that moment I realized that my strength was merely an illusion I was trying to grasp onto.
From that moment on, I stuck to my appointments and treatments. Shortly thereafter, my cancer went into complete remission. This does not mean that I am cured, it means that test results show no signs of the disease. My cancer can reoccur– and that’s okay. I’ll do what is need to tend to my health. Cancer and weakness are no longer synonymous to me. Sometimes in order to become strong, you must confront that which makes you weak. My pride has been confronted.”
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
Psalm 119:71 NIV
This blog post was originally written for and published as a piece featured in the “And That’s Okay” Series on Www.sincerelysyreeta.com