CANCER. No one likes the word, particularly when it concerns someone you love or yourself.
I heard the dreaded “C” word during my recent visit to the ER. I haven’t felt right for several weeks. A CT scan, ultrasound, and other tests all point to ovarian cancer. There’s also an indication it may have spread to other organs. Understandably, my doctor recommended that I see a gynecological oncologist.
Yeah, it sounds pretty terrifying. I’m still trying to process the information.
What in the world?! No one in my family has a history of cancer.
After dozens of calls and several hours tangling with insurance, I finally have the approval to see the oncologist. My first appointment is this Wednesday. My other doctors have prepared me that I should expect a hysterectomy, biopsy of the mass, followed by grueling chemotherapy.
It seems a tough road is ahead for me—a trial of epic proportions.
So, how am I doing with all of this? Well, at first I was numb. It just didn’t seem possible. But each day as my usually healthy body rebels against me and grows weaker, I have come to terms with the fact that I am sick. Really sick. I have fluid build-up in my abdominal cavity and around my lung, which is another sign of ovarian cancer. This will probably need to be drained before I get surgery. By the way, I’m counting the days. I just want to get this done!
Of course, I’ve shed some tears and felt the dark shadow of fear grip me in the night as I struggled to sleep comfortably because of the pain and shortness of breath. I cried out to God and His peace covered me like a blanket. I have made up my mind—I’m going to cling to Jesus.
Not only is God with me in this trial, but He is also bringing me supernatural peace and even JOY.
I know it sounds ludicrious. Joy, peace, and cancer just don’t go together—that is, unless God is involved.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
When I embarked on writing a blog series about the Fruit of the Spirit from the book of Galatians (Galatians 5:22-23) some weeks ago, I had no clue I would be immersed into a literal hands-on experience. Let me tell you, I’m learning peace and joy on a whole different level. It’s been very personal, to say the least.
Please understand, I didn’t say I’m happy about the possibility of cancer.
There is a difference between joy and happiness.
Happiness isn’t present in the darkness of difficulty. Happiness happens to us. Even though we seek and desire it, happiness isn’t a choice we make. Joy, on the other hand, is a purposeful choice.
Joy is something far grander. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit.
Of course, joy and happiness can be present together. But in its truest expression, joy transforms trials into blessings and turns heartache into gratitude.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
How am I experiencing peace and joy during this season? I have surrendered everything to God. I am trusting that the same God I’ve known for years is, in fact, good and His purposes are good (Psalm 119:68, Jeremiah 29:11).
I have hope that God will use the ugliness of cancer to bring about something beautiful.
God never wastes a thing. He will leverage our sin, weakness, and sickness for higher purposes. The Bible is full of accounts of God using broken, sick, messed up people and situations to bring about redemption. It’s His specialty.
Even though I have trust in God, I still have my moments of fear, doubt, and sadness.
I’ve asked, “Why me?” And cried, “This isn’t fair.” To be honest, I started this blog post last Friday. I almost didn’t finish it today because that ugly snake called depression slinked in, twisted its way into my thoughts, and squeezed out my peace, holding me captive in a cruel vise of “what ifs” and “I can’t do this.”
BUT GOD …
Once again, I cried out to my Heavenly Father, and he lifted me out of the pit of despair and covered me with His wings of peace. I turned my focus to Jesus, what He endured on the cross for me, and His amazing promises. I also reached out to some friends. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate my friends and family right now! I have an army of people praying and lifting me up. Praise the Lord! As I broke free from depression’s grip, the indescribable joy returned.
The joy comes from knowing that God is using me and my situation for His glory. Wow! I get to be a part of His amazing work. Peace comes as I hand over my life to His tender care. I’ve become aware this is not a one-time thing. Each day, each moment, I have a choice. I choose Jesus.
Joy and peace are byproducts of a life surrendered to Jesus.
Doctors and science only go so far. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for doctors. I know God uses them. But God is the creator of everything. I think I’ll trust Him and see what beauty He brings from the ashes of this trial.
I plan to write about my journey whenever I am able. I hope you will join me as I share what God is up to during this difficult season that is sure to bring about some incredible lessons and maybe a miracle or two!
I love hearing from you! Please leave comments and prayer requests in the comments below.