middle of the marathon

Children are so honest.

A couple of mornings ago, my five year old daughter, Selah, shared that she had a dream with me in it, but it was the “regular Mommy” who was in the dream with her.  She then shared, in her matter-of-fact way, that when she woke up she was happy because it was “regular Mommy” in the dream.

“Regular Mommy” is what Selah calls pre-cancer Mommy.  Mommy with hair.  Mommy with energy.  Healthy Mommy.

And now, as I remember this, tears fill my eyes because I, too, wish “regular Mommy” was back.

Right now, I’m in the “feeling good” part of my cycle.  My days are filled with pretty normal things.  Errands. Grocery shopping.  Pool days with friends.  Other than having less stamina and my head covering  on, the outside life could seem pretty normal.

I pray these days feel normal for my children because life surely isn’t normal during the ten days after chemo when I’m homebound and in bed.  I’m trying my hardest to make these days as carefree and fun as possible.  And I’m trying my hardest to forget, even if for a few minutes, about the black cloud of cancer.

But of course I can’t forget.  All it takes is a glance in the mirror to remind me that I’m sick.  That I’m in the middle, well not even quite the middle yet; of a LONG journey back to “regular Mommy”.

I was sharing with Justin last night, and after he lovingly listened to how I’ve been struggling he made the perfect analogy to the way I’ve been feeling.

He said it’s like I’m in the middle of a marathon.

I remember running the Country Music Half Marathon with my sister last April.  It’s a huge race.  There was so much energy at the starting line, as thousands of runners lined up to start the race in waves.   I was so pumped up and just ready to DO IT! We’d been training for months and I couldn’t wait to start running.

So then we started running, and the first few miles were so easy! The momentum from the starting line carried us through and we felt really great.  Then came mile six.  and seven.  and eight.  Whoa.

By that time of day, the sun was beating down on us, and the course had us running down a less-than-scenic part of town with NO shade.  And it was hilly.   Rolling hill after rolling hill, after rolling hill.  And the daunting part was that as we ran ahead, we could see the runners off in the distance running up and down the hills, which seemed endless.  As we were huffing and puffing up one hill, just one glance ahead reminded us that it wasn’t going to get any easier any time soon.   We pushed through, and finally had the joy and energy of the finish line!


at the Country Music Half Marathon, April 2014

That’s exactly how I feel at this point in my journey.  The middle of the marathon is so often the hardest part.

Right after my diagnosis, in the beginning of my journey I was all: “Let’s DO THIS!” “I’ve SO got this!”  “I’m ready to kick cancer in the teeth!”    There was a lot of energy and momentum as the fighter warrior came out in me.

But now, those first few miles are behind me, and all I see are hills ahead.

Hill after hill, after hill.    The reality that this is my “new normal” is setting in.

I now have no idealistic notions about how it won’t be “that hard”.  I KNOW the reality of what it’s like. And I still have four more chemo treatments.   Then surgery. Then radiation.  Then more herceptin infusions.

At best, “regular Mommy” will return about a year after that one phone call took her away.

My hope, joy, and peace? It’s not in regular Mommy returning.  It can’t be!  If that’s where I put all of my hope, joy, and peace, what would happen if something unexpected happened? What would happen if the cancer came back, or didn’t respond to chemo, or any number of devastating possibilities that happen to cancer patients every day.

The Lord is teaching me, as I process this part of the journey, that my hope, joy, and peace has to be in JESUS ALONE.   There have been days that as I lay in bed, feeling terrible, that I envision a year from today feeling healthy and good, and back to normal.  Putting this cancer nightmare behind me and never looking back.  I can easily get into the midset that THAT’s what I have to look forward to….and I just need to “get through this”.

But I can’t stay there.


My hope, joy, and peace – the ROCK under my feet has to be on something more solid than the sinking sand of “kicking cancer in the teeth”.   “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand”.

Jesus, the unchanging One.  The One who wrote every day of mine before it was even lived.  The One through whose loving fingertips has EVERY circumstance in my life been filtered.   The Lord gently reminds me that He’s in this tough part of the journey with me.  Even on the days I don’t FEEL His presence, part of faith is knowing and believing with everything I have that He IS with me.    He’s was in the energetic start, He will be at the glorious finish, but most importantly He’s in the difficult middle of this cancer race.

Jesus-He’s my ROCK and my running buddy….up and down the cancer hills.  The middle matters, and I’m thankful I don’t run alone.





  1. Dovie Turner says

    Justin is right. We love you and are praying.

  2. Samantha Fisher says

    Dear Brooke,

    Know that you and your dear family are in our prayers and we are keeping up with you and are encouraged by your words. I wanted to try and encourage you a bit- not through anything I have to offer but from my father’s experience with cancer in 2010. He was diagnosed with throat/neck cancer and underwent a painful regimen of chemo and radiation. I was living in DC at the time and really struggled with being so far away (so I’ve been thinking of Liz through this too quite a bit). Every week he emailed friends and family with updates describing the dismal effects of the treatments but also finding a way to rejoice in faith. I dug back through my emails during that time and found the Week 4 update. Here is it:

    Malcolm Muggeridge, the peripatetic British journalist who received Christ later in life penned these words,
    “Contrary to what might be expected, I look back on experiences that at the time seemed especially desolating and painful, with particular satisfaction. Indeed, I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my seventy-five years in this world, everything that has truly enhanced and enlightened my existence, has been through affliction and not through happiness, whether pursued or attained. In other words, if it ever were to be possible to eliminate affliction from our earthly existence by means of some drug or other medical mumbo jumbo . . . the result would not be to make life delectable, but to make it too banal or trivial to be endurable. This of course is what the cross signifies, and it is the cross more than anything else, that has called me inexorably to Christ.”

    Although I could embrace a little of the banal and trivial at the moment, I believe there is much truth in his statement and that it says less about pleasure and affliction than it does about how sin influences even our ability to enjoy pleasure correctly and give God thanks for it. I must confess how much I took for granted and joined the nine lepers who never bothered to return and say thank you.

    Martin Luther wrote, “I never knew the meaning of God’s word until I came into affliction. I always found it one of my best school masters.” I know scripture gives many reasons for affliction. In Job we witness a cosmic battle in the heavens but in most other places it is either for correction, construction or the common lot of man in a fallen world. All of the last three apply to me.

    For those receiving this email who faithfully attended a Sunday school class on Christian suffering I taught nearly twenty years ago please forgive me! I had academic knowledge but lacked experience and was naive to think I had some qualification to teach it! I needed a bit more of life!

    Week four was rough! It was a perverse game of “Whack-a-Mole”. I had a reaction while receiving the chemo which required additional steroids. The steroids gave me a rash over half my body for twenty four hours. That was followed by some dehydration, another side effect. Once past those, I reacted to the chemo and Amofostine with a couple violent episodes Wednesday and Thursday in the bathroom that left me literally speechless. I lost weight and would have lost hope a couple times but Page prodded me and awakened me early each day to concentrate on hydration before heading off to the therapy. Regardless of my faith, I am not relishing entering week five but trust where I am weak my Shepherd is strong and aware of just what a miserable sheep I am!

    As a young Navy lieutenant on my second cruise in 1973, we suffered from boredom! The fuel crisis was underway and the war over so we flew once every three days. There were four of us in a junior officer bunk room on the USS Hancock and one roommate slept most of time. When asked about his sleeping pattern he replied, “Every hour I’m asleep is an hour I’m not in the Navy!” I’ve adopted a little of that philosophy. Every hour I’m asleep is an hour away from the cancer! We remain thankful for all the emails, cards, calls (Page has to do the talking) and prayers. Your love and encouragement are so meaningful to us. Love, Ken, Page, Samantha, and Ashley

    Hang in there, Brooke. You are much loved. Maybe in due time it would be fun to run that Music City Half with you guys again.

    Samantha Fisher

    • WOW, this is so encouraging and I really relate to many of his experiences! I really appreciate you taking the time to send me this, Samantha. Looking forward to another Music City Half!!

  3. Brooke,
    You are beautiful woman, embracing this challenging diagnosis with such grace and dignity. Your post are heartfelt and transparent. Courage shouts forth from these pages. Your strength no doubt is anchored in the Lord, the only one who can sustain us.

    Chemo and radiation are brutal to the body, mind and spirit. I rejoice with you during these days that you are finding rest from the ill effects of your treatment. My heart aches for you, Brooke and the brokenness you and your family are experiencing. I have witnessed it all too many times with family and close friends.

    Would you allow me to encourage you to look down another path. You may not wish to deviate from your plan of action in eliminating your cancer, and I truly respect your decision. But would you be open to reading additional information from a website that may further equip and aide you in your journey back to health. I only offer this website, you decide if it is beneficial or not.

    Cancer is scary. But we know the one who holds us in the palm of His hand and says, “Perfect love casts out all fear.” I am praying for you, Brooke. Keep fighting. Do not loose heart. Keep holding on to the one who will never let go of you.
    Resting In His perfect grip of Love,

  4. Brooke, I think about that half marathon often.

    We carried each other through. You biggest battle was the “middle miles”. But MINE were the final miles. The beautiful (but daunting) rolling hill part concluded and in front of us was 4 more miles of running and running and running. I was DONE at that point. But while you struggled with the hills, you were my strength through that last stretch where I was fighting the battle to push forward. It’s a beautiful thing how the Lord granted you strength to be an encourager even though you were weary and still pushing forward yourself.

    This parallels again this time of your life. Even through the rolling hills, you’re inspiring us all, but I KNOW the Lord is going to give you strength, words, and opportunities to carry other going through their “middle miles” in the months to come. And through that, you will be able to proclaim HIS glory. Love you so much sis!