Way back, years ago, when I was in high school, I wrote a term paper on The Seven Warning Signs of Cancer. There was not much research available back then, before the age of the Internet, and it was hard to find at the library, but cancer was just beginning to become a part of every day conversations. This was two years before First Lady Betty Ford announced her own battle with breast cancer, bringing it out of the shadows. Although the American Cancer Society had begun in 1913, public awareness was just beginning. Cancer was beginning to touch my life.
Soon after high school I watched as my cousin battled Hodgkin’s Disease (now called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma); as a close friend’s brother battled the same disease – both in their early 20s. Over the years I have watched so many family and friends fight this disease with confidence and faith in God. I’ve watched them suffer through the treatment, lose their hair, lose their energy, lose weight, but remain steadfast in coming to church – emboldening their faith. I’ve watched them use their battles, and their victories, to encourage others and to glorify God.
Research has made such a difference in the treatment of cancer over the last 40 years. Cancer now means treatment, not a death sentence. I’ve watched this change occur during my lifetime. However, it only treats the disease. It doesn’t prevent it. Maybe soon it will.
Based on 2010-2012 data, approximately 39.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with some type of cancer in their lifetime (http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html ). The estimated number of new cases for 2016 is 1,685,210.
Cancer has become an epidemic. And I don’t like it. A dear friend is fighting lung cancer and doing it with a beautifully positive faith in God’s purpose. Another cousin is fighting breast cancer – only two more treatments – certain of God’s goodness.And now, it’s my turn.
In May I went for my annual mammogram and opted for the newer technology of 3D. The skilled doctor who read the mammogram saw something unusual and requested further testing. After an ultrasound came a biopsy. After the biopsy came the diagnosis: breast cancer.
What care God has taken to prepare me for this new passage: the history of watching others and hearing their testimonies to God’s faithfulness, of seeing their strength in Him. Even books read and discussed in book club helped prepare me for this diagnosis. In God’s mercy He provided caring and skillful doctors, nurses, and technicians to catch this early. In His grace He has surrounded me with wonderful, caring and praying friends.
God is good. All the time.
This song is my prayer today:
Jesus draw me ever nearer
As I labour through the storm.
You have called me to this passage,
and I’ll follow, though I’m worn.
May this journey bring a blessing,
May I rise on wings of faith;
And at the end of my heart’s testing,
With Your likeness let me wake.
Jesus guide me through the tempest;
Keep my spirit staid and sure.
When the midnight meets the morning,
Let me love You even more.
Let the treasures of the trial
Form within me as I go –
And at the end of this long passage,
Let me leave them at Your throne.
(Lyrics written by Margaret Becker)