When I sensed God was moving me to a new phase in my life, I didn’t expect to be handed a second cancer diagnosis. No, that is definitely NOT what I had in mind.
Yes, I know His ways are higher than my ways and His thoughts are higher than my thoughts, but REALLY?
I guess I thought I had already had my cancer experience. That was in 2005 with Non Hodgkin Lymphoma. That diagnosis, too, was completely unexpected. Those months of treatment were a tough time, but by God’s grace, I got through it well and received His healing. Every scan since then has been clear, and for that I am always thankful. In fact after my scan this past February, my doctor told me I would not need another follow-up CT scan for two years. Yay! I was thinking how great it is to be done with cancer.
So here I was in April of 2016 rolling along and thinking all is well with my health… And out of the blue I have a breast cancer diagnosis. I am told it is small and it is early, yet the pathology shows indications of being somewhat aggressive. So even though it is small and it is early, the treatment has to be aggressive.
It is so difficult to think about another port placement, chemotherapy and all that can go with that…
I received the news that the biopsy showed malignancy on April 18. Of course, I was shocked and blown away and angry and fearful and frustrated and all of that. In the midst of all the emotions, I tried to pray and seek God’s help, But somehow, I felt that I was not hearing from Him. That was hard to figure out. Is He there? Does He care? Do I have to go through this without Him? Do I just need to suck it up somehow and know that I walk by faith and not by sight, and so I just have to trust Him even when I don’t sense His presence, His voice or His involvement?
Then more information from the pathology started coming in. The margins were clean. There was only micro involvement of the sentinel node. The treatment would be a lumpectomy and then three weeks of radiation. All of this was hard to digest, but I was handling it. Then just this week the news came that the cells were Her2Nue positive. That meansa targeted therapy drug (Hercepten) plus a chemotherapy drug (Taxol). That I could not handle.
I had chemotherapy in 2005. It is not something I would wish on my worst enemy… I’ve been kind of undone just thinking about it. My doctor says this chemo drug will not be nearly as toxic as the cocktail of drugs I had before, yet it is chemo. There will be side effects. I had to hear from God now, so I pressed in even more.
Finally some breakthrough came, and I began to hear faint whispers of His voice. I am not alone. He is here. He tenderly feels my pain. He is good. He is faithful. I know that He loves me and will not leave me. All of this I know in my head, but this week He has begun to pour it all into my heart afresh. He gave me these verses that resonated deeply in me:
- Psalm 55:18 – “He rescues me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me.” (NIV)
I like the image of the battle. I am a warrior. Cancer is the enemy. Hercepten and Taxol are some of my weapons. The Holy Spirit is the Commander in Chief. I also latch onto the thought that He will rescue me unharmed from the battle. Unharmed! Yes!!!
- 2 Corinthians 4:7-11 – “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” (NIV)
Verses 7-9 I’ve thought about before. I know the power is from God, not from me. I am hard pressed , perplexed for sure, persecuted in a sense, struck down. And yet I am not crushed, I am not in despair, I am not abandoned, and I am not destroyed. All of this I know in my head, and I am beginning to experience it in my spirit.
But verses 10 and 11 are coming alive to me in a new way. To be carrying around the death of Jesus in my body so that His life can be revealed in my mortal body is something new to ponder. I have never really considered the meaning of that before. Of course, maybe it’s natural not to sense that you are carrying around the death of Jesus in your body until you are faced with something that is potentially threatening to your bodily survival.
Now I am thinking: what if He has allowed this disease for the purpose of revealing His life in my mortal body? What if there is something He wants to reveal about Himself that can only be done in this way? I don’t know of course, but it makes me wonder. His ways and His thoughts are definitely higher than mine. It doesn’t make much sense to me right now. Maybe in His grace He will show me what He is doing as we go along.
For now I am praying for healing. I am praying to be rescued from the battle unharmed. I am speaking to the mountain called cancer and telling it to throw itself into the sea. (Mark 11:23) I am asking Him to keep me strong, to minimize the side effects, and to preserve my hair from falling out. Doe the hair thing seem trivial? I don’t think so. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask of a loving, tender Abba. So I’m asking Him for that. I am also seeking to know something of whatever He is doing in all this.
It’s definitely NOT what I had in mind. But I am His child. He is my Abba. And I have determined to keep my eyes on Him. More than that, I have decided to rest in His lap and trust Him to carry me through.
I appreciate your prayers. I hope to have more to write and reflect on soon.
Preparing for the battle,