We Walk out of the Valley
by Leann Harris
On Saturday, May 19, 2013, I’d just finished a book and decided to take the day off. As I sat watching TV, my left arm went dead. Just fell to my side, and I couldn’t move it or feel it. Panicked, I ran to the other end of the house and told my husband we needed to go to the emergency room. Fortunately, our local hospital is known for treating strokes. They ran some tests and put me in the hospital. Later that day the doctor came into my room. The room had a nifty screen where he could access my head scans. Good news, I didn’t have a stroke. Bad news, I had a brain tumor. Two days later, they operated. The neurosurgeon told my husband that she got it all, but the tumor had eaten into the bone of my skull and she had to put a plate in my head. He told her that day, May 22, was our 41st Anniversary. She said congratulations, your wife’s alive.
When we went to see her to have the staples removed, the doctor told us the tumor was malignant. They thought the tumor was Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, but it normally doesn’t appear in the brain. It should be Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. After visiting several doctors, they finally decided I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
No one wants to have to deal with cancer, but none of us are given the option. My world flipped upside down. I’d turned in the first book of a three book series with Love Inspired and finished a World War II book for another publisher. Life was perfect, then everything went off the rails. But I had the Great Physician in charge of my life. He gave me this Scripture: “I will not die but live and proclaim what The Lord has done” (Psalm 118:17 NIV).
Holding onto that promise, I knew I’d get well. A peace settled inside me. And no matter what was occurring with my cancer treatment, I knew all was well. It was as if this entire episode happened to someone else because the disease never touched my soul. My Savior shielded me.
Chemo stretched from June to December. My blood counts always ran too low to allow me to leave the house, so I only went to the clinic and home. My husband did everything.
The editors supported me and allowed me to take my time on my Rodeo Heroes series. It took longer than I wanted, but the last book in the series, The Cowboy Meets His Match, will be out in June 2016.
With each round of treatment, chemo got harder. I ‘hit-the-wall’ at the end of November. That’s a term most cancer patients understand. Everything stops working. You’re played out and have no energy. You simply exist. I couldn’t think of stories, prayer seemed impossible, but I felt my family, friends and fellow writers hold me up in prayer. They stood in the gap.
When I tried to resume writing, my brain didn’t work. The radiation to my head, which I feared, damaged part of the brain I used in writing. But the Lord showed me a book I wrote close to ten years earlier. When I wrote that book, I knew it was not the time for that story to be published. My agent tried, but nothing came of it. God brought that book to mind, so I edited it and learned how to write again. I felt my brain searching for new connections and making them. I no longer write books in the way I did before cancer, but I write.
Again, God brought the cover artist to my attention and provided a person to setup that book for me. I did nothing but watch as God shepherded me along. The Last Truth was the first book of a trilogy Legacy of Lies. I’m finishing the last book in that series now.
I knew I was well when stories returned to my soul. I remember the day when the characters for The Cowboy Meets His Match started telling me their stories and what had happened to them. That breath-taking moment made me want to cry.
What did I learn walking through this valley? First, God never fails. The trust you place in Him is always rewarded.
Second, prayers of friends are precious. They surrounded me, held me up. One friend sent me letters, books that her mother used on her cancer journey. I have a finger puppet lamb that is still in my desk. I savored those prayers, treasuring them in my heart.
Third, the comfort I received I need to pass on to others. “God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4).
That command rings in my heart. I’ve been blessed and can do no less than give that blessing to others.
So when you say, “I’ll pray for you,” understand the treasure you give to those who need your support.
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