As Streams Renew the Desert: A Journey through Breast Cancer
- Monday, April 23, 2007
Restore our fortunes, LORD, as streams renew the desert. Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. — Psalms 126:5-6
One phone call on August 18, 1999 changed my life forever. One phone call sent me on a journey of spiritual awakening that eventually led to the throne room of God. Here, at the feet of His Son, I came face to face with His holiness and my own brokenness. He was no longer Lord of my Sunday mornings or my current crisis. He was my precious Savior, the Lord of my life. And by His grace and mercy, every tear I planted was transformed into a beautiful harvest of blessing.
Cancer? That’s Impossible…
At 47, my life was rolling along smoothly. I had a good marriage, well-behaved kids, and a successful career. And I had mastered control of it all. A few self-help books and a couple of classes on life balance were all my naturally perfectionist personality needed to keep all the balls in the air at once. With careful planning, I could lead a meeting, write a client proposal, do six loads of clothes, clean the house, pick up a few groceries, entertain guests for dinner, take in my daughter’s dance competition and not miss a beat.
When a new doctor I visited for a routine yearly exam discovered a suspicious area on my left breast, I was stunned. Surely, this was a big mistake. I had a negative mammogram and no family history of breast cancer. Besides, breast cancer was not in my life plan, and certainly not on my busy calendar!
During the next few weeks of testing and waiting, I was determined to research my way out of this mess. But all the scientific information I uncovered and all the perfect doctors I investigated couldn’t change the truth in that phone call. You have invasive breast cancer.
What followed was a blur of phone calls, doctor visits and decisions. I was whisked into surgery for a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy. The surgeon confirmed the cancer was Stage 2 and had reached two lymph nodes. Still in a daze, I began to prepare for 24 weeks of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation, several months of baldness and an uncertain future.
More than a "Drugstore Jesus"
It was during these next several months of treatment that my relationship with Jesus Christ became personal. Oh, I thought I knew Him before. I went to church every Sunday. But God was more like a “drugstore Jesus” to me — a bottle of aspirin sitting on the shelf in my medicine chest. I would think about Him on Sunday mornings or during the occasional crisis, then put Him back on the shelf again until the next ache or pain.
In my pride, I thought I understood everything God had to show me. I didn’t need a small group of believers to hold me accountable, and I certainly didn’t need to bring my Bible to church every Sunday like those “religious” people did!
But our God is full of mercy. His love knows no boundaries. On the day the phone call came, He tenderly reached out His hand and gave me two choices; I could face it on my own or I could trust Him. From the moment I invited Him into the center of my cancer, He covered me with the peace that surpasses all human understanding. From the disappointing pathology report to the day my husband shaved my head, from all the needles, blood tests, and chemo treatments to wig shopping and the challenges of painting my eyebrows on straight, He never left my side. My occasional Bible dabbling turned into a deep hunger for the Word of God. Jesus Christ had won my heart.
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