Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ephesians 4:9-12
“How long has this been going on,” my gynecologist seemed concerned.
“I’ve been cramping for a few months now, but it is a lot worse now. I feel as if I’m about to go into labor. The lower back pain and bloating is becoming unbearable.”
“Anything else?’ she was taking notes.
“Actually yes,” I touched my forehead right above my right eye, “the migraines are back,” I truly felt defeated. “The exhaustion is intense, I just want to sleep all day.”
“You haven’t been here since August, it’s now February. You really needed to return sooner. Have you forgotten about the cyst on your ovaries? We need to see how that is doing,” she was a little stern.
I felt like a student who had forgotten to study for an important test and now sat before her proctor, “I completely forgot about the cyst.”
“Your family history concerns me. It’s important for you to take anything out of the ordinary seriously,” she quickly stood up and walked towards the door, “I need to set you up for an ultrasound, please be here early tomorrow morning for the test.”
I immediately realized that I was experiencing the symptoms of ovarian cancer. I remember reading about it extensively when my grandmother was diagnosed. I kept my composure. Selina was with me and I didn’t want her to worry about nothing.
The doctor interrupted my thoughts, “We will do preliminary blood work today, follow me please.”
I obediently held out my arm as her sweet technician drew my blood. Selina drove me home. We both sat quietly in the car.
I was up early for my ultrasound. The transvaginal ultrasound was extremely painful! This was not my first time lying on a table for this exam, but it never hurt before. I literally cried when the technician left the room.
I managed to drive home. I made another text video for my children after I wiped my tears, “Glorify God in all you do guys. Don’t walk away from Him no matter what comes your way.”
I met with my therapist that afternoon. I drove myself to the appointment and didn’t tell anyone where I was going. I felt like Lazarus probably felt while facing death. He was more than likely on his death bed, expecting his friend Jesus to show up, yet He never came.
Stress felt like death to me.
“God, please help me. Lord, carry this burden. God, I really don’t think that I can take anymore of this.” I prayed constantly. I expected my Savior to save me, but He didn’t seem to be present. It was as if the cloths to wrap my body and the casket were near.
I pushed the elevator button to reach my counselor’s office. I’d been here before. She walked me through a terrible bout of post-pardum depression after the twins were born twenty-three years ago. In fact, I still rely on those learned techniques today.
She also helped Ruben and me during a season of extreme burnout. Since she already knows me and is a believer, I chose her as the mental health provider my doctor wanted me to see for stress.
As I sat in the waiting area, I could feel stress as if it were tangible. I didn’t feel hopeless. I didn’t feel depressed. I had been there before. I didn’t even feel defeated. I simply felt as if I were holding up heavy weights alone and the pressure was coming down on me.
The door opened, “Hello Vicki,” her smile felt welcoming. I expected her to have a weary look on her face because I was there again. Instead she was happy to see me.
My body relaxed on the all familiar sofa as her calming voice reassured my restless soul, “You are not alone Vicki.”
Life has really thrown me a few curve balls that I just couldn’t catch any more. Misunderstandings, gossip, lies, betrayal and a bit of back stabbing had taken its toll on me. My reaction to it all had began to cost me dearly. My traction for walking uphill was slipping greatly.
The fighter that lives within me refused to relinquish her weapons. Press on- move on-embrace the battle- don’t quit had all become my motivators. I convinced myself that I didn’t need anyone and that I could do this alone.
It was on me, so I believed, and I come from a long line of brave warrior females-I could do this!
Believing these lies led me to the sofa in my counselor’s office.
I had decided to not hide behind the curtain with my counselor. It was time to come out of that protective shell that was not fulfilling its purpose. I didn’t feel safe behind my walls anymore. I had come to realize that my hiding places had built prisons of shame, guilt and emotional distress. It was time to come out of jail.
I knew that God was with me, even though I couldn’t feel Him.
I knew that my family was on my side, even though they were occupied.
I knew that my spiritual covering was for me, even though they were busy.
I knew that my friends were my battle buddies, even though I’d more than likely driven them crazy lately.
Now my counselor was sitting there reminding me of her support too. I wasn’t alone.
I could see the masses of angels that fought for me. I wasn’t alone.
So, I took a chance on what I believed. I decided to go all in.
Tears began to roll down my cheeks, “I can’t keep doing this alone. I failed so many times before. I really don’t know how to let people in.”
Pretty soon, her box of white tissues was emptying as the makeup on my face colored them all to a beautiful mahogany.
“Take the negative thought and capture it Vicki. Then make yourself do something else. Get your mind off the negative thought,” she beautifully engaged me with her soul searching eyes, “I understand you. You did what you had to do. You did your best.” Her soothing voice relaxed my being and ushered in the relief I needed.
She taught me how to breathe correctly when feeling overwhelmed, “Breathe in, 1-2-3-4-5. Fill your gut with air, breathe out, swing your head, 1-2–3-4-5.”
She ended our session with prayer. I felt more relaxed than ever, yet alive and full of vigor.
I drove home with a new sense of reality. Far too often, we carry burdens not designed for us to carry. The weight of unnecessary burdens was the root to the physical, financial, relationship and spiritual demise I now endured.
I’m not lazy if I rest.
I must expose myself to the right people at the right time.
I have decided to trust God at a level I never even knew existed.
I’ve surrounded myself with voices of hope, those who are destiny propellers, those who choose to deeply see me and to consistently believe the best in me.
I have decided to grow up.
I fell into bed once at home. I was more worried for Ruben, our children, my mom and my aunt than I was for myself.
I turned to my Abide app for meditation. The soothing music, scriptures and prayers gave me peace. I grabbed the negative thoughts and threw them aside. I focused my thoughts on the truth of His word, “I will live and not die, I will declare the glory of His name.”
There are still more children to help in the Dominican Republic. My husband still wants to plant more churches and he needs my help. There are still women caught in sex trafficking.
My daughters and daughter in laws will have children one day, I will need to help them.
I rose up, “I will not die. Stress will not overpower me. Ovarian cancer won’t touch me. Heart disease in any shape or form has no place in me.”
My prayers changed, “God, its by your stripes that I’m healed. You are my provider. You see what I’ve given and You said that it would be given back to me exponentially. I believe You God.”
I looked to the heavens, “I take down principalities of darkness in high places that think they have me! You must go in Jesus’ name. NOW!”
I chose to believe what God had promised me. I declared those promises out loud. I was convinced that God was up to something and that assured me.
I sat in the crowded waiting room for the third time that week. “Victoria Dominguez,” my gynecologist’s nurse called my name and I moved amongst the expectant moms. They reminded me of myself.
I used to only visit a GYN for pregnancy up until two years ago. I was cramping like crazy and my belly kept growing. I had my tubes tied after my seventh pregnancy, but I was sure to be pregnant again.
I told everyone that we were having another baby. The growing belly, the pressure in my lower abdomen and the lower back pain only occurred during pregnancy.
My three daughters and I headed down our mountain in the Dominican Republic to see my gynecologist for the test results, “You are not pregnant Mrs. Dominguez,” she tried to comfort my saddened girls, “but you do have beautiful children.”
“So then why the growing belly and everything else?” I asked.
“Remember the small fibroid in May? It is now the size of a six month fetus.”
Within a few days, I had blood clots in my my leg again because the weight in my uterus had caused too much pressure on the May-Thurner weakened arteries and veins in my body. The pain had become unbearable. I could barely walk. The migraines were so bad that lumps were forming all over my head!
My doctor insisted on an emergency hysterectomy.
During my follow up visit she said they removed one fibroid from inside my uterus, but found six more growing outside, “You lost so much blood, so I had to leave your ovaries.”
Fast forward to now as I followed the nurse into my examination room with the words of my doctor lingering in my mind from my past surgery.
My ovaries are still hanging onto the ligaments my body provides. The only part of my reproductive system that remains is perfectly positioned for a cyst to grow. Perfectly positioned to cause me to suffer. Its interesting that the very things God used to create beautiful lives are the very things seemingly sucking out mine.
My doctor walked into the room, “The cyst isn’t the same as before,” her expression was serious, “We will need to take more tests.”
“Why?” I knew what she was thinking, I don’t know why I asked. I didn’t want that word to come out of her mouth.
“It could be ovarian cancer.”
“Its just a cyst. A cyst could cause my symptoms. I’m sure that I’m fine.”
“Yes, but your family history concerns me. We will take more blood today because there is one test in particular that you will need as the first step to ruling out this type of cancer and certain types of tumors. We will also need to have surgery as soon as possible.”
“But I need to get back to the Dominican Republic. I need to see our people there and my husband needs my help.”
“I’ll give you a month. I want you back here in a month.”
I extended my arm to her technician again, “Didn’t I just draw your blood yesterday?”
She was friendly and wanted to talk, but all my mind could see was my grandmother’s dying body from this same disease my doctor wants to rule out of my body. My mind wanted to wander in the misery of it all, but I chose to grab those negative thoughts and answered the technician.
“Yes, I’m here again.”
“This is just routine, don’t worry.”
I gave her a funny look. Did I look worried?
She smiled and walked me to the receptionist.
I had decided not to tell anyone. The lone rider in me tried to believe that walking this out alone was the best way to go. Then God spoke, “Vicki, this has all been an intense battle. It started a few years ago and if you want to be free, you will need to fight the right way. You have been under severe attacks on so many fronts. It is time to let people in. You need others to engage in this war with you.”
I drove home and sent another text video to my children, “God is in control, He gives us the victory. Trust Him today guys.”
I decided to obey God. I sent texts and emails to my children, a few family members, a small circle of friends and to my spiritual covering. It was a simple message, “The cyst on my ovary has changed and my doctor is testing to rule out ovarian cancer. Please pray.” I felt silly sending out a message like that, what if its nothing and I scare them all for no reason?
Yet, I believed that this battle would only be won by prayer and fasting. My anemic state wouldn’t allow me to fast, but I knew that the people who received this message would fast and pray. I needed to let them in.
Ruben had now been away from me for a month. We video chatted a few times a day every day, but I couldn’t bring myself to video chat about this. So I called, “Hi honey. I miss you.”
His raspy accented voice still sends chills through my being, “I miss you more baby. I want to see you, call me on the video.”
“Not this time. Listen honey, for a variety of reasons, my doctor is testing for cancer. Its a routine test and I’m sure we have nothing to worry about, but will you please pray? Please talk to the team leaders that are on HOPE Mountain and ask them to assign the teams to pray this month. Let them know that this month will be different than usual, not much community work or land detail. Please have them on prayer rotations 24 hours a day and prepare the atmosphere for me. The girls and I will be there soon.”
He was quiet. I recognized that silence. I was sad that we were here again.
“Honey, are you okay?”
“Yes,” I could envision him taking off his shirt to reveal his superman outfit, “we will pray. You will be fine. I can’t wait to see you.”
My sister in law called me later that evening to tell me that her baby brother was upset and demanded I tell her what was going on. So I told her. She assumed her big sister position and told me not to worry, “Vicki, no weapon formed against you will ever prosper. The enemy has wanted so badly to take you out because you are so powerful. You will not die. Do you understand me? You are healed. You are delivered. You are set free. I don’t want to ever hear that ugly word come out of your mouth again. Instead speak the truth from His word! Say, ‘I’m healed, I’m set free, I’m delivered.” I will instruct the pastors of our churches here to pray and I will pray. I won’t sleep. I won’t eat. I’ll do whatever I have to do, but you are healed and that is what we will say and that is what we will believe. Do you understand me?”
“Si, lo creo,” she always knows exactly how to set me back on track. She has become one of those who diligently holds up my arms when facing insurmountable circumstances. Our faith connected once again during that telephone call and I was reminded of the warriors who stand for me on the special island that brushes the waters of the Atlantic and the Caribbean.
I was eager to get back to the place where God had placed a huge burden on my heart to reach people for Him, but it had now become the place where He reached me.
To be continued….