Surviving the Storm: Shaken

surviving the storm framedFaith feels easy when life is easy.

But what happens when life gets hard?

What happens when you’re shaken? 




Author’s Note: Last year, my oldest son, Kyle, relapsed with leukemia, making me a two-time Cancer Mom. I’m sharing our journey not to ask for your pity, but for others who trudge this same road feeling isolated and alone. And for friends and family who watch the suffering and want to help, but don’t know where to begin.


I swallowed a sip of burnt coffee and glanced across the blue vinyl booth at my oldest son. His brown hair was messy, like when he’d stepped out of the shower this morning, he’d forgotten to tame it.

Since he’d moved to college, our occasional breakfast date usually made me smile. But I wasn’t smiling this morning. I was trying to shove the words from Building 429’s song, “We Will Not Be Shaken,” out of my head. Because after we finished our bacon and eggs, we had another date—with an ultrasound tech at the clinic across the street.

A few weeks earlier, Kyle had discovered a testicular mass. A mass that might be normal—if he were any other nineteen-year-old who hadn’t shared a sordid history with cancer.

“Whatever this is,” Kyle picked up his fork, “it can’t be as bad as leukemia.”

“You’re right.” I set down my mug, hoping he’d miss the way my fingers trembled.

God had this, didn’t He? He loved Kyle. He wanted good things for him. He knew the devastating battles we’d had already fought and won. He’d seen the permanent scars, physical and mental, that leukemia had left on Kyle.

Kyle first met cancer when he was ten. Their relationship lasted four long years. But he’d been clean for the last six, a year beyond the cancer survivor’s five-year magic milestone.

“It’s gonna be okay.” He dropped his fork on the plate without taking a bite. “Not like last time.”

“I know.”

The waitress topped off my coffee and I touched my son’s hand. We will not be shaken. The words to that song wouldn’t quit playing in my head.

He looked up, his expression oddly calm. “Everything we went through? I wouldn’t ask for it again, but I wouldn’t take away what came out of it either. I wouldn’t be in nursing school. My faith would be different. Does that make sense?”

“Yes.” It did make sense. I’d changed too. Become more focused. More empathetic. More real. My marriage was stronger and I was grateful for my relationship with Kyle. We shared a bond most people would never understand.

We will not be shaken. Yet, there were those words again, like foreboding music in a movie that isn’t going to end well.

That morning, we finished breakfast and headed to the clinic. Kyle’s ultrasound showed the mass to be suspicious and led to a comprehensive CT scan to check for other tumors. The CT showed no additional tumors and surgery was scheduled. They would biopsy and remove the testicle.

Hoping we were being paranoid, but wanting to be prepared, we talked through the threat of testicular cancer. It was a very curable cancer, an inconvenience compared to the nightmare of leukemia. After surgery, Kyle might need some radiation, but then he’d be fine to return to college.

We will not be shaken. I had to admit, I’d been a little shaken.

Surgery came and went. The hope that the mass was nothing crept back in. We held our breaths for a week waiting for biopsy results, desperate for a reason to celebrate that Kyle remained cancer free.

I’d like to share the mass turned out to be nothing. I’d like to say our lives went on after a Grand-Canyon sigh of relief. I’d like to say our story ended there.

But I can’t.

The phone call came on Friday evening. Kyle walked into my room, clutching his cell, shaking. “Here. You talk.” He dropped the phone in my lap and sank to the carpet next to my bed.

“I’m sorry.” The doctor let out a deep breath. “It’s leukemia. This almost never happens. It’s a very rare form of relapse. Six boys get it a year. Kyle’s looking at twenty-four months of aggressive treatment.” He paused. “Maybe more.”

I don’t even remember ending that call. All I could hear was the word relapse. All I could see was my big, strong boy crying on the floor.

We will not be shaken. The words played over and over. But I was more than shaken. My faith wasn’t enough. Knowing God had our backs wasn’t enough. Remembering that Kyle had won this battle before wasn’t enough.

I crumbled. That word, relapse, picked me up, ripped me open, and clawed out my heart.

“Why Lord? Why give us hope? Why let us think Kyle could have surgery and go back to school? Why keep us waiting for this news for ten excruciating days? Why pile on rock after rock? Finding the mass. The abnormal ultrasound. Possible malignancy. Surgery. Biopsy.  Leukemia.”

They weren’t rocks. The Lord’s voice brushed across my heart. I gave you one piece of news at a time. You couldn’t handle the word relapse that first day.

The pain of knowing what was ahead gripped me tight. “You weren’t supposed to let this happen again. We fought. We won. We’re done.”

I understood that God had protected me. Set me up for the news of leukemia. I didn’t understand why he allowed cancer to come back into our lives. And I couldn’t cling to the words of that song.

The only thing I had left was what God had done for us in the past. He’d gotten us through. Somehow we’d survived our four-year walk through cancer’s hell. And come out better on the other side. Even Kyle had seen that.

So now, in this moment, I had a choice. I could trust Him to get us through again. Or I could turn my back and face cancer alone.

I looked at Kyle, falling apart on the floor. He needed me to be strong, to have faith, to tell him we weren’t alone.

So I slid off the bed and pulled him into my arms. We cried together for a long time. He clung to me and I clung to David’s words from Psalm 16:18. “I [will] keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” And I prayed for the faith I was quickly losing.

I had no power over the news we received that day. I couldn’t take the cancer away or change the journey or dull the pain. But I could choose how we walked our journey. I could chose to face Kyle’s cancer with God lighting the way.


Read the other posts in this series here: Surviving the Storm 




  2. Lori,

    I will make it a point to fall on my knees and pray for Kyle.

    I will also pray for you and your husband.

    I needed to hear your testimony this morning. All will be fine.

    Praise God and his son!!


    • Thank you for your prayers :)

      • OMG My heart goes out to Kyle and your family. Here were going through our own trial and it’s nothing compare to this!! Lifting prayers up For Kyle!! Power of prayee!!! God has Kyle I will keep him in my prayers that God gives you immeasurably more than u ask for!!! I too needwed to hear this.. God gots Kyle!! Praying in a agreement!!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing. You may not realize that your willingness to share can be such a comfort to others who struggle. Many in my Sunday School class read transcripts of what you write. You always work to spread a light of hope into your darkest moments. A resounding inspiration. Your faithfulness inspires, and your transparency draws us into the struggle and ultimate triumph of faith against adversity.

  4. Sometimes I don’t like God. If I was a “creator” I certainly would NOT want those I love to endure such awful stuff like this. Let’s face it. God is odd! I don’t “get” Him. That’s why I cling to verses where He describes the BAD “walking thru” part of life. I pester Him to show up in the midst of my terrible ordeals and those of my friends (like you and yours) Here’s one of those verses I’m collecting. Isaiah 43:1-2 “…Fear not , for I have formed you by paying a price instead of leaving you captives; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you.” It seems the action promise of God happens as the “walking through” happens? So strange. But true. My prayers for Him to show up clearly in this ordeal to all of you!

  5. Lori, your words will affect people you won’t know this side of heaven. Keep writing. Keep telling y’alls story. Keep your eyes on Him, giving Him the results and the glory.

    We’re studying 1 Peter in Precept this winter. What an eye opener! And a message not often preached on Sunday morning…”But if you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:20-21 NAS).

    Then in 1 Peter 1:6-9 he tells us: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

    Don’t know about y’all, I’m still workin’ on that “joy inexpressible and full of glory.” But just think someway, somehow what you all are going through right now, and have gone through before, will “result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” That’s a truth more than awesome and one you all must grasp and hold onto…there’s a celebration coming and you’re going to be on the front row…right up close to the Throne, leading the celebration! Now that’s a yahoo moment! Gives me goose bumps…how about you? I’m looking forward to reading every word, learning every lesson God has chosen to let you teach by example. Stand firm in Jesus, dear friend.

  6. I can’t imagine how hard that news must have been. Even harder than the first time because you knew what all was ahead.

    Have you considered helping Kyle write a book about his experience?. It might help a lot of young people facing the same thing.

    Hugs and prayers,


  7. Oh, Lori. I’m so sorry. My husband had testicular cancer. It was awful. And you’re right… it was an inconvenience compared to what Kyle and you all are facing. I don’t know you, but prayers for strength and for many glimmers of joy and hope to light up dark days. Blessings.

    • Lisa, thank you. And I definitely didn’t mean to down play testicular cancer. Just to us, leukemia overshadowed everything. All cancer is a nightmare. A nightmare I wish no one had to endure.

  8. I am praying for your son and the rest of your family–that you feel and know Christ’s presence in a tangible, material way and for His complete healing of Kyle.

  9. I am very sorry to hear of your son. as I also have a son close to his age. We became Christians in the early 80’s. I’m still learning. But I do now how powerful prayer is. May I pray for your son and yourself also? My heart goes out to you. How do you do it? My way with dealing with something horrendous is to pray and The Lord does answer prayer . That I know for sure. Kyle will be in my prayers.

  10. I read your article this morning and bawled my eyes out. I am praying for you now as I have my time in the word. My husband was diagnosed with bone cancer that had spread to his lungs when he was 19. I met him when he was going through his second lung surgery. The out look was very grim and Drs. were treating it very aggressively because of his age. I fell in love with him for so many reasons. I think because of what he went through he was mature beyond his years, had a love for his family his mother especially like I had never seen before and such a deep strong walk with The Lord. We married nine months later and despite being told he would never have children because of the powerful chemos ,we had four wonderful boys. After seven lung surgeries he had many years cancer free years until he passed at age 43. I thanked God for him every day. Because of what he went through he cherished every day and was the best husband, father, friend, and son. His mother is the most remarkable woman I have ever known. What a bond they had. I experienced this journey as a wife but as I read your article I thought of my own boys that are about your sons age and I can’t imagine the pain of watching your child go through it. I don’t know why God allows things like this, especially after you have already gone through so much, but we have to trust that He loves us more than we will ever know.

    • Susan, you melted my heart. I pray every day that Kyle will find a wife like you were to your husband. I want him to find someone who sees and gets what’s he’s going through. You are amazing. I’m so sorry for your loss, but happy that you got all those years with him.

  11. Lori, I read your recent article on surviving the storm. As I type this, my mom is holding you up to our Father. However, I must say that it rare to find someone write in such a way that captures my cancer journey. I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2008, & underwent a stem cell transplant x 2 in 2009. In the process, I lost a husband, my home, my kids. I’ve tried to keep up with the
    boys and my youngest also 19, is the closest to me. The oldest, age 21 takes his dad’s side. Divorce happened. I too carry scars. But I digress. Back to my cancer, I was in remission for 4 years before being told over the phone that it was back. My faith was also shaken. Now you are not alone. Cancer is a form of persecution, I believe straight from satan. We will be praying.

  12. My mom always said when you don’t know what to say just say Lord have mercy. I’m believing that all the promises that are in his Holy word will apply to Kyle, you, and your family. I know what it is to try and stand next to your child while test are being ran, try to keep a smile on your face. So as mom said I said Lord have mercy. Show us grace, mercy, and favor. Now I pray for all of you. His healing, mercy, grace and favor. I love the 103rd Psalms. It spoke to my spirit I hope it will do the same for you. God is a mighty healer. Amen!

  13. Claire Rosalia |

    Will pray for Kyle, you and your family
    God is our Refuge and Strenght

  14. Lori, I just read your story.i cried for Kyle..I have a daughter that has had thyroid Cancer..i pray for her daily.she is not married, No kids..i pray for kyle..Today is Feb.9, 2017..How is Kyle?..Gloria Galvan

    • Praying for your daughter. I’m so sorry. It’s so hard isn’t it? Kyle is slowly healing and easing back into normal life. Thank you for asking :)

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