I’ve never been a believer in the innate bad luck of Friday the 13th. However, if I were, Friday the 13th day of April in the year 2007 is a day that would definitely be a “bad luck” day. April 13, 2007, would have been my dad’s 88th birthday, but he had died four years prior to that day. But even that wasn’t what made that day stand out as a not-so-great day. You see—that was the day that my family got my definite diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer. That diagnosis totally blindsided us. It isn’t that we thought we were above dealing with any catastrophic situation; it’s just that most of us don’t walk around every day thinking about being a casualty of something devastating.
In praise to God for my continued good health, I’m sharing a blog that I wrote in 2011.
Blessed By Cancer
It was June of 2010, and I had just read a devotional written by a friend in which she explained how she had been “blessed by the fire” that had burned her house to the ground. That reminded me of something that I had recently said to my daughter’s Sunday School class. It was something that had been tumbling around in my head for a while, but I had never actually verbalized the thought. And if you had told me even a short time before the revelation to the women in that class that I would ever actually say those words aloud, I would have told you that you were crazy.
I have a very close circle of friends with whom I share everything, and we had not all been together for a while, so I hadn’t even told them what was in my head and my heart. A couple of weeks after I shared my thoughts with the Sunday School women, my group of friends went on our annual retreat, and it wasn’t until then that I shared this very personal thought with them. I’m still very cautious about saying these words because most people will not understand, but I have to say them anyway and trust that God will use the words wherever they need to be read or heard.
“I’m grateful I had cancer.”
There! I’ve said it again! It took me only three years to say that aloud the first time. Do I want to do the cancer thing again? A resounding NO! I didn’t want to do it the first time, and I certainly don’t want to do it again! God and I have had that discussion—more than once! I pray daily that I never repeat that experience, especially for my family’s sake. However, I have arrived at the point in life that I can truly say that if that is how He chooses to use my life, then so be it.
2007 was without a doubt the worst year of my family’s life. I was given the diagnosis of “possible cancer “ in late March; we were given the definite diagnosis of stage three breast cancer (with lymph node involvement) on Friday 13, 2007, and was finished with surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation on December 21, 2007. There is so much I could say about that year—very little of it good. Then how, you may ask, can I be “grateful I had cancer”? Because God was involved, and He did many, many wonderful, loving compassionate things for us that year, and, to me, the greatest thing He did was to change me. For that, I am eternally grateful! I am a much better person now than I was b.c. (before cancer), and I like the new me much more.
I have a clearer picture of so many things now—what my priorities need to be, how blessed I am in everyday life, the reality of what God wants me to do and be while I’m here on this earth. The most important “clearer picture” that I received is that I got to know—really know—God so much better. For that especially, I am grateful! Have I arrived in my relationship with God? Absolutely not, but I am so much farther along than I was, and I do not want to go back to being the person I was b.c. Thank you, God, for teaching me, for changing me, for allowing me to learn so many things—even if it took cancer to do it!
If you will remember, the name of this blogsite is “Some Assembly Required.” (See very first blog for explanation.) This refers to the fact that none of us is the Christian that we should be, and just as I constantly reminded (nagged ?) our daughters to clean their rooms when they were young, God will continue to work on us through whatever methods He deems necessary to help us grow. One of those methods in my life is cancer; He used that to change me and grow me up in so many ways. As awful as the cancer and its treatments were, God has taken that terrible year and turned it into good for not only me but for others as well. Romans 8:28 (NIV)—And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to His purpose.
Do I understand any of this? Not really---except for the fact that God is God, and I, obviously, am not. I just have to trust Him. Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)—For My (God) thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
WOMEN--Have a mammogram. If you've never had one (heaven forbid) or if you're procrastinating, shame on you! My cancer (already a stage 3) would not have been found "in time" without a mammogram. I probably would not be here today writing to you if I hadn't had a mammogram. Just do it!