Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Cancer
with Jesus by my side
Thought for the Day: “Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me. Thy rod and staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23
It’s been sixteen years since I heard those words, “I have some good news and some bad news,” coming from the lips of my PCP following the results of a biopsy. The good news, the diagnosis wasn’t as bad as it could be, but the bad news delivered that day, I had breast cancer. And my comfortable, uneventful, blessed life started to rock and roll.
Looking back on that initial diagnosis and the protocol treatment directed by my oncologist, I discovered the blueprint for my entire life had not been shared with me by Almighty God. I was met by so many ups and downs it was hard to keep up. Ever been on a ride at an amusement park when suddenly you desperately wanted the operator to stop because this ride wasn’t what you bargained for, but it wasn’t faintly possible? That’s one of the feelings that surges through your body when news of this nature makes it to your brain!
There have been so many lessons wrapped in this cancer package that have made me a better person:
• Through my experiences I have a good idea what thoughts run through the mind and heart of one diagnosed with breast cancer or any cancer for that matter. Therefore, I can be a source to share doubts, fears and concerns.
• Your attitude is 90% of your success rate of a positive outcome (that was quoted by my surgeon).
• Life isn’t to be lived lethargically. Make the most of each and every day because we didn’t arrive on this earth with a toe tag indicating when we would be leaving this body behind. Erma Bombeck, a comedian who wrote many books and passed away as a result of cancer, made the statement once about not wanting the windows down in the car because her hair would be blown by the wind and the style messed up. She later commented if she had it to do over again she’d let it blow! That meant the world to me after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I have windows down in the car more often, let the house go without continually dusting and wiping up floors (I even hired someone to help with those items) and before my husband retired I went on more business trips with him. In other words, I started living each day to the fullest!
• Cancer cannot rob you of joy. It can make you miserable, can take your mind to dark places of depression, but only if you allow it to control your mental and emotional capacities. I was told during my 33 radiation treatments I would get tired a little quicker. At the time I was riding my bike six miles a day. I was determined those radiation treatments would not rob me of riding my bike. Towards the end of the six weeks of radiation my legs felt awfully heavy, but I rode my bike to the end of treatment!
• Scripture is powerful. A friend sent to me a verse from Isaiah 43 that spoke of “though I walk through the fire I will not be burned” which meant the world to me. Each day when the radiation machine began to run and I was left alone in that room, I prayed that God would lay His hand over my body so I would not be burned (radiation will often irritate skin as experienced by sunburns). That was in answer to a situation explained by my doctors beforehand. If my skin received burns from the radiation and the need to stop treatments occurred, it would necessitate beginning the series of 33 all over again. I’m blonde and blue-eyed, folks. Those chances of burning were higher for me than for others of different skin tones. But each morning I prayed for the Lord to come to me as He did in the fiery furnace of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and lay His hand on me. My skin was a bit irritated, but “we” made it through…me and my Lord!
• Use the disease to witness of God’s goodness. I grew closer to God through my experiences. I learned to lean on Him because there was nothing I could do to make this disease disappear. I had to walk the journey and look for the blessings along the way…and there were many. My son bought a CD of WOW worship songs for me during this time. I would play those tunes all the way to treatment each day and back home again. I’d sing glory to God and even today when I hear those particular songs I’m back in the car riding to radiation. Tears get close to falling because I now know the goodness of the Lord and His healing power.
There are many other lessons I learned and continue to acknowledge through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ in sparing my life. I am fully aware that cancer could arise in my body again, but the remission I have been blessed to enjoy for the past sixteen years has been amazing. I have written devotional books, run a ministry website, taught lessons and spoken at retreats. I have become a grandmother, walked alongside an aging mother, buried my dad, relished in being included in my adult children’s lives and enjoyed being retired with my best friend and husband of almost 40 years.
I don’t dress in pink from head to toe to stand out as a cancer survivor, but I don’t shy away from acknowledging the inclusion in this exclusive group. I’m more than a survivor, I’m a child of the King, a daughter of the Almighty Father and I pray my testimony will bring glory to Him.
God bless, my friends, and enjoy this month’s entries written by some great women who have their own stories to share.
On a hot day don't you desire to simply take off your shoes and place your feet in that clear, cool stream you happen to be walking past? I love the sound of water....the waves crashing by the ocean's shore, the trickling of a stream or the rain falling on a tin roof. Those are among my favorites. Why do you think most of us enjoy those sounds? Possibly because they are relaxing? I think so.
The 23rd Psalm states, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." Seems water and rest go together, doesn't it? We all need a time out in life to relax, refresh and reboot. If we don't we become tired, irritable and our health and mental outlook take a hit.
Maybe we should listen to the Shepherd's words and be led by His voice. Could He be bidding you to come to the water, put your feet in and refresh your body and mind? When might I have time to find a body of water and put my feet in you ask if you are a busy mom or dad with jobs, babies, after school projects or sport practices, and the carpool....well, it's your week to drive and you need to think about dinner!
May I suggest something? Stop and pray. Yes, pray and ask God to order your day. It only takes a minute and while you're at it, take a deep breath. God wants you to have an abundant life, but we need to put Him at the top of the list instead of the bottom, or have you forgotten to put God on the list at all?
Have a great day....and if you don't have a stream close by, just fill a glass with water, remove your shoes and start pouring! If nothing else, you will find yourself laughing!
Photo courtesy of NGW from Hocking Hills State Park