I’m thinking about it today.
The word alone spews fear.
For the past. For the present. For the future. For the unknown.
We hear that another friend or loved one has become a battleground.
And we wonder if we’re the next target.
We eat the right stuff and refuse the wrong stuff. We exercise and deal with stress. We sleep the recommended hours and avoid known risk factors. We examine ourselves monthly.
We make all the right choices. Or the wrong ones.
And it might not matter.
Some believe that we all carry a cancer gene. That something triggers it. And we may have no control.
We’re all susceptible.
All of us.
My mother-in-law had breast cancer. She died many years ago from other causes.
My aunt had bowel cancer. It killed her.
My mother had bowel cancer. She is cured.
My daughter lost a friend to bowel cancer earlier this year. He was 25.
My friend had an aggressive lung cancer. She never smoked. She died in her 40s.
A family member has liver cancer. He had no idea he was sick until a month ago. They gave him two to four weeks.
Easy to write those sentences. Impossible to grasp the depth as an observer.
I wonder how I would face the news. How would I work through it? How would my family cope?
My mother-in-law faced it as just another issue to deal with.
Some don’t want to see anyone. They just wait.
One friend says his life now revolves around the “big C.”
When the end was near, Maggie called dying another adventure.
A pastor friend just received the diagnosis of prostate cancer. He says, “My passion is to face the cancer well and in a way that brings attention to THE Father.”
His life revolves around the “big C.”
Not control. Not choices. Not cancer.
Jennifer at Getting Down With Jesus wrote about some “big C” words yesterday in My Biggest Fear in Life.
About a cemetery and a cross and a calling.
And I agree with her. My deepest fear is that I will have missed my calling before I’m called home.
I want my life to count in His number system before my system runs down. Before my colors fade and my last leaf falls.
I choose The Center.
Lorna G. Poston says
Jay Cookingham says
Amen…I choose the Center also.
This was so insightful to read and ponder…thank you for sharing!
He who kneels before God can stand before anyone.
I love that quote, Jay. We could also say “The one who kneels before God can stand before anything.”
Robin Arnold says
The truth is, first you cry. I did. Then I decided this was mine to learn from and savor step by step. There was no point in thinking too far ahead because each test, each result changed the course. The big picture is we all die. It might be cancer. It might be some other way.
I had to commit to handing my cancer worry over and not take it back. It’s also vital to have faith in your doctors and medical teams. That alone is a weight off. The other thing is I did what maybe you are. I made myself smart about my cancer, as I could handle the information and tempering with my individual needs and ability to process.
I talked about it at first whenever someone put a nickel in me. Then I clammed up. More than cancer defines me. Now I just talk about it when it seems appropriate, when I feel like it helps, when it’s clear the Lord needs me to tell a little of my story. For me, that’s part of my purpose assigned by the Lord. My calling? It’s as good as any. Sometimes callings sneak in rather than rely on proclamation.
I still need to get tested every year for cancer cells, and I take a little green pill everyday that keeps me alive which I do with a grateful prayer. My cancer was a gift. I truly believe that.
Oh, Robin. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I am convinced someone who visits this post (even if they don’t comment) will be helped and strengthened by your words.
First you cried. Then you savored. And then you accepted the cancer as a gift. So, so powerful.
And hooray for little green pills. 🙂
Hugs to you.
This was so powerful and insightful and I thank you for writing about this. Your light shines brightly my dear friend….Much love xx
Thank you, Amanda. It came quickly, and I was not prepared for the range of comments they would receive.
Kim Vander Poel says
Good post on the “C”.
When I found my lump, I said, “Really, good we are going to have to do the cancer thing too?” The morning I heard my diagnosis, I had written in my journal, “Lord, my life is yours!” Be careful if you ever write or say those words. The last 18 months I have had more procedures and operations than I can count, 16 chemo treatments and six weeks of radiation. I am just at the tail end of my cancer journey, so I am not able, yet, to say it is a gift. However, I can say that my gift was and is seeing God in the journey. My life purpose has changed. I now live with joy and hope. HOPE LIVES NOW!!
Thanks again for a great post and for bringing awareness!
” . . . my gift was and is seeing God in the journey.”
I’ve known those who’ve turned away from Him when something like this happens. Rejoicing that you were able to press in and find hope through all the treatment challenges. Praying for you, dear friend, as He continues to carry you.
You also say your life purpose has changed. There are things in life that make us come to grips with what is really important.
Thank you for sharing your heart.
Susan J. Reinhardt says
My husband battled leukemia for 14 months before dying of a fungal infection. Through it all, he lived his faith before others and shared the gospel with fellow sufferers.
He died, but he died a victor.
I don’t think I knew that. I don’t think we’ll ever know this side of heaven why things happen like they do. I had another friend who died in her early 30s from breast cancer, leaving two young children. But she continued to serve and witness throughout her struggle, and her funeral was a real celebration, and many gave their hearts to the Lord that day at the altar. Would they have found the Lord anyway? I don’t know, but she still holds a place in my heart after 30 years. She also died a victor.
Hugs to you.
Walking through lung cancer with my Mom who does not yet know Jesus..
How much more peace she could embrace.. brings me to tears every time.
Oh, Karin. What a hard journey to travel with her. I am praying.
Karen Swim says
Sandra, this post really hit home for me. There was a period where I seemed surrounded by cancer (I lost my hubby, two friends and a brother-in-law in the space of a year and had two other friends diagnosed), and wondered if it would catch me. However, there are many scary words, and things of which we could worry but none scarier than facing the end with a life undone not by lack of years but lack of action. Bless you Sandra for writing this post.
That’s a lot to bear in a year.
You said nothing is “scarier than facing the end with a life undone not by a lack of years but lack of action.”
Those are beautiful words–and powerful. They speak my heart.
I’ve lost so many members of my family to brain cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, and other kinds of cancer. My brother died of cancer a year ago in May. I couldn’t even begin to list the number of friends who have died of the disease.
What you learn to do is not walk in fear. Fear is worse than cancer. It paralyzes.
Cancer defines you only if you choose to be defined by cancer.
I’ve been a member of NPR’s OurCancer for a while now. (You’ll find my name on many posts.) Anyone who wants to know what it’s like to have cancer, locate information about cancer, live with cancer, take care of someone who has cancer, lose a friend or family member to cancer, feel like you’ve lost your mind because of cancer, grieve from death to cancer, fall apart and get back up, need only go there. The stories are all there. So is the hope. So is the living, which is of the moment.
The moment is what you have. Yesterday’s gone, tomorrow’s not yet here. Be present. Anyone at OurCancer can tell you what that means.
Fear is worse–it paralyzes. Cancer defines you only if you choose to be defined by it. The moment is what you have. Be present.
Those are some wise words, Maureen.
What hard stuff you and your family have had to face. 🙁 Thank you for sharing about OurCancer.
I’ve poked around the blog a little. What an incredible source of support.
Lynn Mosher says
Oh, Sandy! So much around you. Sounds like God has called you to be a rock and a light to them. Touching post. Blessings to you!
I think there is so much around everyone, Lynn. And my daughter’s response to the last news was, “I’m not surprised.” When I asked what she meant by that, she said, “I’m not surprised anymore when I hear anyone has cancer.”
It’s amazing to realize that so many of us have been affected by cancer. I have lost an aunt to cancer. It was ugly on so many different levels, but mostly this – the church who encouraged her not to get medical attention because her faith should be enough to make her well.
I think it would have been wonderful if my aunt had had access to an organization like OurCancer.
Oh, Deidra. I can’t imagine the emotions tied up in that situation. And she’s left to struggle with her faith walk, and you’re left to wonder what if. 🙁
Cheryl Smith says
These C words remind me of today’s discussion in Sunday School. We’re studying God in the Yard – and were on chapter 7. We talked about blood and a friend who’s been wrestling with ovarian cancer (2-3 bouts of it) said, “I live by the blood – the numbers, the count.”
And indeed, we live fully because of the blood of Jesus.
Your words stir my soul. Yes, that’s it! To find the One who is the Center, and dwell in that place no matter what our trials.
I’m always struck by people like Maggie and your pastor friend. Their lives are reflections of John 10:10 — which says that the thief comes to destroy, but Jesus comes to offer fullness in life.
Thank you, Sandra, for expressing this so beautifully.
Carol Garvin says
I recently finished a contest article on my experience with endometrial cancer. I’m not sure why I chose that topic because I think it was harder to write than living through the illness was! My mother died of a fast-moving cancer when she was a year younger than I was when mine was diagnosed. Robin said, “first you cry,” but I didn’t. I went numb. I guess it was shock, but I couldn’t think. It was as if my brain had been turned off and wrapped in cotton batten. Only later did I see how God put all the right people in place to get me through.
I don’t think I’ll ever view cancer as “a gift”, but my encounter with it reinforced my belief that God is faithful, trustworthy, compassionate and loving. He is the One “who is able to keep [me] from falling…”, in this case, from falling into fear and despair…. [Jude 1:24] Now I am even more thankful for each new day and mindful that He is indeed the dependable Center of my being.