Because I Hate Cancer So Much…
Lucinda Secrest McDowell
You want to help, to be there, to comfort and encourage. But you don’t know how. Or what. Or when.
And as you are struggling with how to be a support, the cancer patient ends up ministering to you!
My little sister, Susan, is one of 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States today.
“None of us know what twists and turns lie ahead on our road of life and it’s good that we don’t. But what we can know is that God is sufficient and we can experience His power, presence and peace through the darkest storms of our lives. His grip is firm regardless of the size of the waves. I will never again think of cancer as the Big “C”. The Big “C” is Christ who enabled me to conquer the little “c” — cancer. This has been a speed bump and not a brick wall. To God be All glory, honor, and praise!” (Susan Secrest Waters)
Susan is in good health today and I am so grateful. But there are others for whom the cancer journey is still fraught with detours and roadblocks to recovery. Today as I write my husband is speaking at the funeral of another young friend with cancer.
And one of my friends – award winning novelist Cathy Gohlke – recently wrote me of her struggles during treatment: “…trying to grasp or form a coherent line of thought is almost beyond me. But it feels not far, as if I could just reach a little farther into the universe I might grasp it. And yet it escapes me just as I think I might lay hold of it. I know this is part of my journey. For me, it is the most frightening part. Physical pain and illness is a place easier for me to surrender and rest and trust than is this mental fog that sometimes stirs up a panic or anxiety within me. The doctors call it ‘chemo brain’ and say that for some people it is not a problem and for some it goes away fairly quickly. For others they say it can last a year or more after chemo is finished, or never go away. Mine has not gone away.”
I continue to pray for her, write her, send her words of encouragement. But I honestly feel helpless in the face of her struggles. Perhaps you do as well?
This year too many people who were way too young to die, succumbed to the ravages of cancer. And some of them were my friends.
Steve Hayner’s last nine months were like an advanced course in living and dying in faith. They were a story of honesty and hope (these words are recorded in the new book, Joy in the Journey.) Our mutual friend, Mark Labberton, observed those last days, “In Jesus’ name, Steve gave us joy in the midst of wrestling and questioning and seeking and hurting and hoping because he was living a resurrection life. He was not a nervous Christian. His only comfort in life and in death was that he belonged body and soul, not to himself, but to his faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”
“His witness to us all in these last months was not a tale of people straining to find an absent God, but of lives largely free of entitlement and presumption, of people with grateful hearts filled by God’s resurrection life and set free for the honest adventure of hearing and following the call to follow Jesus and, in the midst of all else, to find life even in death.”
I want to see hope in every situation today – especially for those who are ill. I know God is present when His children suffer. I just wish I knew how to be present….and helpful.
Years ago I read Amy Carmichael’s book “written from the ill to the ill” –Rose from Brier. She lived in chronic pain whilst ministering to children freed from human trafficking in India. Occasionally I order copies online and send them as gifts to those who are in pain. Months ago I chose a selection from that book for the opening epigraph of my new book Dwelling Places. Then this week a recipient of my gift wrote me that it is this same poem which touched her heart the most.
God will show us how to love and lift. He will grant His presence in the midst of the suffering. Cancer will not win.
under the mercy, Cindy