Year of first diagnosis: 2004
Kind of cancer: Leukemia
Initial reaction to hearing “You have cancer”: Before I had a chance to reflect on my initial diagnosis, (I found out I had cancer in the emergency room) God immediately spoke to me very clearly. He told me my diagnosis was not unto death and that He had a “special assignment” for me. This assignment included my sharing His goodness in the hospital to doctors, nurses and other cancer patients. It also included Him doing a work in my heart of growing and maturing me in His image, not only in the hospital, but also after I was healed. This gave me great strength and purpose as to why I was going through the cancer process and the fact that God loved me and had my future in His hands. Nine years later I am cancer free and continue on His ‘special assignment.”
My greatest learning experience: I have learned a lot through my cancer experience. One of the most profound things I learned was to enjoy each day and not to “sweat the small things.” When I was released from the hospital after spending 35 days on the cancer floor, I remember going out the hospital door and remarking to my son, “Do you realize there are leaves on the trees?” I know God’s beauty is all around us but because of my “hurried schedule” I’ve missed so many of God’s gifts.
In addition, relationships have become much more important than possessions. I concentrate on those things that are important to God and not chase rabbit trails because of my own fleshly desires. I have also come to realize how important it is to pay attention to the spouse and children of individuals who have cancer or a challenging issue. The spouse and children seem to be neglected in many ways as most of the attention is on the individual with cancer. They are dealing with potential life changing issues as well as the cancer patient.
Has your spirituality been enhanced or lessened by cancer? Definitely enhanced. I believe God not only healed me of my cancer (a real miracle) but also changed my life for the better through this experience. When we pray and ask God to use us for His glory, we need to be prepared because God will do just what we ask. What God unfolds in our life, however, is sometimes totally different from what we could “ever ask or imagine” – always for our good and His glory!