Teaching Men How to Fight Like a Girl
"Finally be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil." Ephesians 6:10-11
Nothing hits harder than the sneak attack of a relentless enemy. "It's cancer." When Dana and I heard the doctor speak softly this short, simple statement she handled the diagnosis much better than I did. March 2008 began a two year journey on the road of learning how to fight like a girl.
When I was growing up in the "Happy Days" era Dallas, Texas in The Fifties, the ultimate put down that could be made between two guys fighting for their territory on "The Blacktop" at O.M Roberts Elementary School was the burn, "You fight like a girl!" We had no idea that we were actually paying a compliment to our opponent. No man has learned to appreciate the tenacity, the stamina and the spirit of a woman until they have stood by them through their fight against cancer.
Dana was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer, and her first response was, "Well, I knew it. I am just going to have to beat it." For my part, I was in a fog. It was a kind of crisis-induced coma brought on by the head on collision with cancer. Nothing optimistic or pugilistic came out of my mouth. I don't even remember how we walked from the basement of the hospital exam room to the parking lot of HEB Methodist Hospital.
Dana was on the cell phone contacting our daughters, Ashley and Allyson and setting up a meeting with them in Southlake. We were going to break the news to them in person, but by now they were well aware that we were not bringing them a good report. Between conversations with family and friends, she was giving me directions. I was useless. I had spent close to 30 years in the Mid-Cities, but couldn't fathom how to get to Southlake. It was as if a giant hand was squeezing the breath out of my lungs, and I could not get my mind to function. It was much like one of the brain concussions I have had over the years. I was awake, aware, but awash in an almost other world kind of feeling. I was grasping, gasping and drowning in a sea of denial. I had to ask Dana several times how to get out of the parking lot, how to access the road to Southake, and what exit to take. Nothing looked familiar to me. In truth, nothing would ever be the same again.
In the middle of the fog of war, my cell phone rang. It was Ricky Griffin, my pastor friend from the Panhandle of Texas. Grif and I had not talked in almost a year. His first words were a mixture of exhuberance and exasperation. In his patented Panhandle French, he said, "Man, I have had you on my mind all day! What is going on?" It was a question of genuine concern, not just a casual "Whazzup?" I began to spill my guts to Grif, and blurted out, "Ricky, Dana was just diagnosed with cancer, and I am overwhelmed!" His voice was a gift from God. He told me that his wife, Pam, had been diagnosed with the same kind of cancer a year before. He established an immediate bond with me. He knew exactly what this felt like. He told me to hang up the phone, and keep my eyes on the road, and leave the rest in God's hands. He said he was going to start praying and enlisting others to do the same. His last words were, "This is a battle you can win." The call ended and the fog lifted.
Don't misunderstand me. The enemy was still before me. The fight was still ahead, but now I could see Jesus standing in the line of battle. He was not waving a white flag. It was a good sign. Dana asked who had called, and I said, "I think we just heard from God." Thank God and Grif! We were not alone. We were not defeated. We were not victims. We were just in the fight of our lives.
Since March of 2008, Dana has referred to her fight with breast cancer as her, "Great Adventure!" She has been a tremendous encouragement to many people who have found themselves faced with the same challenge. What I have seen in her has humbled me and challenged me. She has taught me how to fight like a girl, and it is not a task for the faint of heart. It has caused us both to make a commitment to challenge people to form a long-lasting, life-changing support sytstem for their spouse, mother, sister or friend. To do this requires a full fisted attack that hits the enemy with the all five fingers of a joint task force that includes...
1. Believing Prayer: Take your place in the battle line along side of the Person of The Risen Christ. He is ready when you are to get right in the middle of what you fear the most, and make sense out of it.
2. Positive People: Toxic people should not be given permission to take you on a detour or sound retreat from the place Jesus has called you to stand.
3. Proper Nutrition: Knowing what to eat and giving your body what it needs to fight is not a spectator sport. It requires persistence and discpline to turn food into fuel for a fight not comfort for a retreat.
4. Regular Exercise: Stress is a real killer because it weakens the immune system. The body was meant to move. It is God's design to get rid of toxins that rob us of life.
5. Medical Science: Fighting the battle against cancer requires a commitment to learn a new vocabulary and to ask alot of questions. God is the Divine Healer. There is no other kind of healing than the kind that comes from God, but He has provided people with scientific insight into the nature of cancer.
Over the next few weeks, Dana and I will be taking an in depth look at these five things that people do have control over in their fight against cancer. The most important is prayer. It is the thumb of the hand in this fist of furious faith. The other four are weakened severely if the people who are entering this fight do not take their stand alongside The Intercessor, Jesus Christ.
I have developed an even greater respect for my wife, and for the women who are a part of this unique pink sorority. During the past two and one half years, I have come to a new understanding of the phrase, "You fight like a girl." I would be proud to wear it as a badge of honor, if I could ever match the courage that Dana has brought to this fight. Until then, Dana and I will share with others what we have learned through her "Great Adventure" and help others focus on the five things they can do to resist the temptation to run for the tall grass. There is no need to focus on being a victim, when we have been called to take our stand in the strength of the Lord for the victory that has already been won.