By Vivian Mabuni
I got up earlier than normal one morning to fix lunch for my eleven year old, Michael. He looked at me and said, “Mom, you don’t need to make me lunches the next few days. I’m going to fast for you because I think it might help you during this round of chemo.”
“Really, are you sure, Buddy? I thought they were serving pizza this week.”
“Yeah, they are. But this is more important.”
Michael chose to fast for me during the week he would be helping out in the school lunch line. Helping in the lunch line was a privilege reserved only for sixth graders. Helpers enjoyed access to pizza. Not cafeteria pizza, but real pizza delivered by an actual pizza chain. Pizza rated near the top as one of Michael’s favorite foods.
Michael was forgoing pizza for me. I had no words.
One of the lessons I learned through the cancer journey was how to become a gracious receiver. I much preferred being on the giving side. It humbled me to be in a place to both need and receive help. Our family had been loved, prayed for, and helped in so many ways since the cancer journey began — particularly through our Crossroads Community Church family.
We could walk to our church. We probably lived the closest of all the families, but we consistently showed up late. People drove in on time from all around South Orange County. Up to an hour away, families would arrive from Orange, Placentia, Huntington Beach, and as far as Carlsbad. Crossroads, a church filled with people who genuinely loved God and each other, had the types of families I wanted to grow old with. Committed to excellence, the members displayed a wide array of talents and were warm, down to earth, and incredibly generous.
I think the entire church knew our garage code.
But as wonderful as our church friends and family were, I struggled.
I struggled with how long the treatment process took and how people continued to help us.
I struggled with not wanting to be a burden.
I struggled with comparing myself to others and thinking other women with breast cancer were back living life at 100 percent, so I shouldn’t be a wimp. (Of course I didn’t know any of these other women, but I’m sure they were out there.)
I struggled with thinking I should be farther along.
I struggled with not having the same capacity as before and being okay with not being able to do.
I would lie awake at night thinking about all my unwritten thank you notes. I had to tell myself, No one is lying awake right now waiting for a thank you from you, Viv. You are the only one thinking about this. I grew tired of letting others help, always being a receiver. I realized this paralleled my inability to receive love and grace from God apart from performing and doing. I used to think God loved me more when I read my Bible, attended church, treated my family well, stayed busy in various Christian activities, and talked openly about Him with others. Instead the truth of being loved unconditionally began to change from head knowledge to knowing through experience. I was loved in whatever condition. God reformed my core through this time on some deep, deep levels.
**excert from Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts, chapter 6 The Chemo Life**
Vivian Mabuni and her husband Darrin work with Epic Movement, the Asian American ministry of Cru. Vivian is a mom of three kids and a cancer survivor. Her first book, “Warrior in Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts” released in April 2014. Connect with Vivian on Twitter/Instagram: @vivmabuni