Facing Fears of Uncertainty
As director of caregiver support with Wellspring Lutheran Services, I help many families face the fears and uncertainty that comes from awaiting a diagnosis or learning of a prognosis. Now I find myself in that same situation.A few weeks ago, my husband received abnormal test results. Since that time, "Is it cancer?" has been foremost on our minds. Today as I write this from the surgical waiting room, I know that the odds are in my husband's favor as only 5-10% of thyroid nodules are actually cancerous. Yet, still, I cannot help but think, "Is he one of unlucky ones?" It's time to head to the consultation room, so hopefully I'll know for sure.
The last few weeks have been a real lesson in dealing with uncertainty — and in testing to see if I can follow the advice I give to others. As a Christian, I turn to my faith in God to help me through. I must admit though, that at times, my humanness comes into play and I don't feel the "peace that surpasses all understanding."
During those times, here are some things I have found to be helpful:
- Prayer. Pray and have others pray. I truly believe in the amazing power of prayer.
- What-ifs. Don't try to guess what will happen. It will make you crazy.
- The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr:
"God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
"Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
- Just the facts. Make sure you understand the facts —but don't surf the Internet. It will become overwhelming.
- Take care of yourself and your loved one. You have to be prepared for what's ahead.
- Control your thoughts. Turn negative thoughts into positive thoughts.
- One day at a time. It sounds cliché, but take one day at a time and one step at a time. The future can be overwhelming. Often God uncovers only the next step in our journey, not the destination.
- Reach out to others. Appreciate all the support and encouragement from friends and family.
- Be prepared with an alternate plan. Make contingency plans and be prepared, but recognize plans change in an instant and you need to be flexible.
- Journal. Keep a gratitude journal, including blessings along the journey.
- Each day is a gift. Cherish each day you have together, as you never know what will happen.
As for my husband's diagnosis... we're now one week out and still dealing with uncertainty, as we do not have final test results yet. And as for me, I'm following my own advice and trusting God.
Director of Caregiver Support
Wellspring Lutheran Services – Fairview