You Have Cancer
by Carrie Stuart Parks
“You have cancer.”
Those are the words no one wants to hear. Yet, in February of 2004, the doctor told me I had breast cancer. My first thought was what does that mean? Am I going to die? Soon? Will I be unable to work for months, maybe years? Will I lose my hair?
I had a talk with God on that fateful day. I told Him I’d go ahead with this whole cancer thing, but I needed to know what His purpose was. And I needed that answer right away. The Bible has a lot of very pushy folks in it, so I knew I wouldn’t be the first to be so demanding. The answer came that very night, when a friend came to Christ because of my cancer. Her mother had died from the disease, and my diagnosis was the impetus she needed to pray the sinner’s prayer with us.
I wasn’t afraid. I knew God had never promised that my life would be easy, only that He would see me through it. And oh, did He do exactly that! I discovered the best way to see God’s hand in your life is when you must fully depend daily on His grace.
I posted a verse from Hebrews 12:1 on my refrigerator: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” I made that verse personal. I saw the cloud of witnesses as the folks around me who would watch to see how a Christian would handle adversity. The weight and sin would be my own weakness in not trusting that Christ would work my life out for God’s purpose. And, of course, the final line said it all: “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
That’s not to say I didn’t cry. I did. One big, fall-off-the-bed, sobbing boo-hoo when I thought God would find me more useful dead rather than alive. I really didn’t want to serve as a bad example. The second, smaller cry came when the doctor called and said, after the initial lumpectomy, that they hadn’t gotten all the cancer and I needed a mastectomy.
Humor and prayer served as my daily coping mechanism. After the mastectomy, when I returned to have the drain tubes removed, I filled half my bra with a cheerful, bright green, stuffed frog. I told the doctor I didn’t approve of the shape of the reconstruction. He got to where he was afraid to enter the exam room. I complained to the oncologist that I couldn’t take the pills anymore, then gave him a pill vial with a massive cow pill larger than my thumb. The oncologist told me that when my hair grew back, it would come in curlier and in a different color. Of course I had to buy a rainbow colored, curly clown wig and wear it to the next exam.
God’s providence was apparent at every step in my cancer journey. I cut the forensic art classes I taught with my husband, Rick, to the minimum, which deeply affected our income, we always had just enough money to pay all the bills. Our health insurance dropped us because of a computer glitch, but we discovered the cancelation and had it reinstated less than a month before my diagnosis. Time after time, we were faced with God’s hand guiding us through the labyrinth of this season of our lives.
You have cancer proved to be the start of an amazing journey, a journey of discovery revealing the hand of God in my life.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.