October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – something I take much more seriously than I used to, after going through treatment for breast cancer since early last year. I’ve been sharing my story and if you missed PART 1, you can catch up here.
As a reminder, we left off with me getting the “best bad news” phone call telling me I had cancer. My family was scared but I wasn’t because it didn’t feel real. And then it was very real.
More disruptive than I expected – and more supported than I could have imagined
Over the next weeks and months, as I went through preparations, surgery, and radiation, then began the long road of daily hormone therapy, I came to terms with what a disruptive and life-changing this event would be (at least in the short term). My body didn’t like the treatment regimen. We had to put the ministry on hold for months and cancel events. And during all of it, Jeff, our kids, my mom, our family, and our friends were amazing sources of strength; more than I could ever imagine. A group of amazing prayer-warrior women got on the phone with each other for an hour every week to pray for me. My neighbor and friend opened her backyard firepit so we – and close friends – could sit and talk. Which was so very important for someone who was having to go through cancer in the COVID era – where every doctor’s visit, every painful biopsy (there were many others), the surgery, and every radiation visit had to be done utterly alone.
I also realized there was a much larger community of women who were ready to support one another. My friends and fellow authors, Lysa TerKeurst and Jill Savage, were unbelievable supports, having gone through the journey ahead of me.
Many women at my events began coming up to me and saying things like, “I know it’s scary. But I’ve been cancer-free for eight years. You’ll get there!” Many others come up and shared stories that were much harder than mine – like needing months of chemo, which I was so thankful to avoid.
Finding my ultimate source of hope
It’s been almost 20 months since we got that call, and I’m now in the process that every breast cancer survivor intimately understands: I’m having regular scans and lab work and doing ongoing hormonal therapy to try to prevent the cancer from coming back. It is easy to forget about it in between the various checks. And then as they approach, questions start sneaking into my head like “what happens if it isn’t normal? What happens if the mammogram shows something this time?”
My next set of mammograms and scans are coming up in a few weeks. And I would be lying if I said that those questions aren’t in my mind at times. There is trauma associated with thinking about having to go through all that again. But then I remind myself of the truths I’m writing in my next devotional, titled Find Hope: God is bigger than all of this. He is good. His plans and purposes can be trusted. And He is in control. That is the only way to settle our minds and hearts about looming questions that have no obvious clear-cut, reassuring answer.
I also realize that even though the enemy meant this for evil, God has been using it for good. This journey has grown my faith, Jeff’s faith, and no doubt the faith of our children. This (hopefully temporary) brush with a potentially deadly disease merely emphasizes that which we know but don’t often think about: this world is not our home. The times of pain have shown that we can lean hard against God, and He will not let us drop. When things are hard and difficult, we have seen that He is there to bring comfort. And we know that no matter what transpires in any of our lives, there is an eternal hope that is far more important than anything that happens here.
In a few weeks, I’m expecting to go in for my appointments and hear that the scans are normal. (I’d appreciate your prayers for that!) But if God allows a different answer, it doesn’t change how much we can trust Him.
For those of you who are indeed walking through a different season – walking through something hard and challenging, with answers that you don’t like – fix your eyes on Jesus. My prayer for you is that you lean hard against our Heavenly Father who loves you . . . and see that He has a purpose, that He good, and that you can trust Him.
This article was also published at Patheos.
Check out the online courses of Shaunti’s research and teachings at SurprisingHope.com.
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